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Kesari Bhattacharya, Screenplay Winner, LISP 2nd Quarter 2020

- Can you please tell us about your daily life?

I normally wake up around 4:30 AM. That's when my wife also wakes up to get ready to go to work. Those two hours before the kids wake up is also my alone time, when I do most amount of creative aspect of writing. Kids wake up around 06:30 and fill my day with sunlight. They fill me with happiness and joy from the moment they wake up.

Once I drop them off to school at 08:00 I either start my full time business or if I have school I go to my school (I have full-time business and full-time studies).  I come home around 18:30 and after a quick shower and dinner first play board game with the children, then read them a book and put them to bed at 20:00. Two hours after that is when I do the admin aspect of writing, and go to sleep at 22:00.

- When did you start writing? How often do you write? 

I started writing script in 2019. This is my second short script. Both these scripts have won several awards, I will list them below. In addition to these two scripts, I've also written another short script, one sci-fi television / web mini series (I've written two episodes so far), one television / web limited series ( I've eighteen episodes written) and Two features. I've just started so I am still looking for a producer to have a look at them. The short films I will produce on my own but for the television and feature I will need more capable producers and team to come on board.

The award I have won so far are as follows:

  1. London Independent Story Prize, for Short script

  2. New York Film Award, for first time writer

  3. New York Film Awards, for Best song in a film

  4. Festigious LA International Film Festival, for Short script

  5. Tagore international film award, for best short script

  6. White Unicorn Film festival, for best short script

  7. World Film Carnival Singapore, for best short script

  8. Druk International Film Festival, for best short

  9. Finalist in Rome Prisma award

  10. Semi-finalist in European Cinematography award (result TBA)

  11. Big Apple Film Festival and Screenplay Competition, Semi - Finalist

  12. Changing Face International Film Festival, Semi - Finalist (results TBA)

  13. Crown Wood International Film Festival, Official Selection

- How does it feel to have your work recognised?

It feels amazing. I remember the day when one of my employers told me I can never make it in a simple salesman job because I can't speak English. Now I am being recognised by such prestigious festivals. I am over the moon. And I am truly grateful.

- What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Screenplay? 

For me, the best and the worst thing about writing is that I write from the heart. It feels amazing to be able to express what I'm truly feeling through these amazing stories, it becomes the worst thing when someone says something negative about it for example one of the festival curator said about my first script that "...the story moves between two extremes throughout the film..." well most of that story is from my personal experiences and my life did moved between two extremes like a pendulum.

I haven't started writing professionally yet, so I guess everything I'm doing right now is very personal which has its own ups and down.

-  How did you come up with the idea for your LISP selected screenplay? Is there a story behind your story? And, how long have you been working on it?

I come from a civilisation of extreme, India. I remember this particularly bad monsoon when everything around my hometown was flooded. It caused havoc as it destroyed all standing crops and the entire population is going to face famine. There, I saw these children making boats of the banana trunk and playing swimming pools in dirty stagnant floodwater. Fast forward to film school and my first short film. My sound designer is from Alleppo and he was telling me about the condition his family had just before ISIS took over and I came up with this idea of manipulating sound of war outside and mixing it with images created by hand shadows.

It's a short script and I would like to make it into feature. The short I have been working on since four to five months, I guess.

- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a short screenplay?

  1. I think in a short screenplay a distinct voice is important. So, I would say for aspiring writer find the voice first. That voice will have to come from a place of truth, your truth, you must look inside for that voice. All the journals, books and training will help put together a script, but that voice will be the kernel on which the tree will grow. 

  2. Discipline. I think writing is all about re-writing. Although this story hasn't changed shape, but all my other stories are very different from when I first started writing them.

  3. Go on set as much as possible. I think making movie and being on set is the best film making education I had.

  4. Live life. In my case I have seen extreme hunger, physical pain, close call to deathly situation, combat, terrorism, friendship, love, joy, earthquake, cyclone, flooding, plague, riots, betrayal etc. So, when I am writing about any emotion of a character it helps me remain truthful to that emotion. Living life is important, travelling, exposing yourself to new idea, understanding different people and their perspective, experiencing all these different emotions. All that will help.

  5. Learn to deal with rejection. I think it's very important that we know how to deal with rejections in a way that it does not spill into our life outside of writing. I cannot have an argument with my wife over something trivial because I'm still upset about a rejection from a production company. I will have to keep them separate. I will think it's part of the writing process and move on.

  6. Persistence. 

- What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing competitions? 

Best thing is recognition. In my case I thought I'm not good enough because I'm too old to start writing and I'm from a non-English speaking background. When I started winning prizes it gave me a big moral boost.

I don't think there is anything particularly hard about festivals. If I must pick anything I will have to say the fees, but to be honest it's not a big issue for me. I can see how it can be challenging for someone who doesn't have a full-time employment to pay for the fees.

-Lastly, do you recommend the writers to give it a go on screenplay writing and LISP?

Yes absolutely. You cared and wrote back. All the writers out there, I can tell you that this is very rare. Care has become very rare these days. So if you find some one who does, I would say stay closer.



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