Sangeetha Gowda, Screenplay Finalist, LISP 2nd Quarter 2020
Can you please tell us about your daily life?
Daily life for me always involves working on something creative towards achieving my dreams. There is rarely a day I'll not be writing, acting or filmmaking, but it's because I love it so much! I'm a firm believer in not waiting around for opportunities but rather creating your own, so that's what I strive to continue to do. But if I'm ever not working on something then I'll be watching a great film for sure!
- When did you start writing? How often do you write?
I started writing at a very young age, creating stories is just something I seemed to gravitate towards. I actually started writing song lyrics (as I wanted to be a singer when young) around 6 years old before I then turned to writing short stories that were always thriller oriented. When I was 8 I wrote a play for my school's talent quest competition which I guess is where Acting came more into play - as I acted as the lead and also directed it. We won! As I got older, journaling became a big thing for me. It was a way for me to vent all my emotions out, some things that I felt I couldn't talk to people about, and a way of healing. When I was 16 I decided to take a chance and self-pubish my work on the site Wattpad. I was pretty nervous sharing my work, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions I made. The start is always slow, a few reads on your books, but I made a decision to keep posting and now my book (When Mr Popular meets Abby Hart) has reached over 100,000 reads which is pretty crazy! Since then, as I studied and got more involved in Acting, I converted my writing of books to writing scenes and screenplays. I have a few that are still works in progress, but I wrote and directed a 40minute screenplay called "Lost Focus" which we turned into a film. It won Best Mental Health Awareness at the Sydney Indie Film Festival 2019 which I'm forever grateful for. What I think I love most about writing is getting a medium to channel my emotions into and to spread awareness on important topics. Writing helped me deal with mental health issues and also provided me a way to connect to other people who might also be struggling. I will always continue to write and am excited for the release of my partner Marshall and I's upcoming web series "Social Murderer" later this year - a series on the effects of social media on society.
- How does it feel to have your work recognised?
I think it's very uplifting to have your work recognised because it gives you that validation to say, 'Hey, your work is good. Keep going,". I think sometimes as a writer, you often have doubts about your work and whether it's any good, or on the flipside you pour so much of yourself into it that it becomes an incredibly vulnerable piece of work to you.
- What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Screenplay?
I think the hardest thing about writing a screenplay is remembering that it probably will never be 100% perfect to you. So often I won't write until I have a perfect, clear idea on what I'm writing about, or I won't release it until I'm absolutely happy with it and I think that's something that holds me back. Because when I think like that, I fall into writer's block a lot easier and then I just have too many thoughts or doubts running through my mind. But when I get it - I get it and that's probably one of the best things about writing a screenplay. When you have that awesome idea in your head, and you write, and more just keeps coming to you as you go. It's so exciting to see all your ideas come together on paper and all your characters take form.
- 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 wrote 'Her, Unwritten' originally as a script that I could act in to help showcase my abilities when turned into a film. But knowing me, I still wanted to write something on an important issue that others could relate to. I started with the main character, deciding to base her on myself during my first year after high school, when I moved to Sydney from Brisbane to attend Acting College. However, upon my own experience within the Film Industry and those told to me by friends - I decided to add honest elements of the important Me Too Movement, whilst combining themes of family (something I often do with my writing) and mental health. I'd say I certainly don't shy away from tough topics when I write, but rather hope to bring them to light to help raise awareness.
- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a short screenplay?
I think first and foremost is to write about something that matters to you and that you connect to on a deeper, more personal level. I don't mean to say it has to be dramatic, but just something that resonates with you. I think be creative, try to be as original as you can and don't write something only with the hope that people will like it, but rather write it for you. Lastly I'd say to flesh out your characters - particularly your protagonist, and remember they are human just like you, flaws and all!
- What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing competitions?
The best thing about writing competitions is getting the opportunity to get your work out there and have people read it. But with that, comes that hardest thing which is the rejection. Quite often there can only be one winner chosen among a sea of submissions and when you don't get selected that can often fuel doubt in your work, when often it may have nothing to do with your script being 'bad' at all. There are often so many factors in play with the selection process that you have no control over. Something I've learnt from the many Acting auditions I've attended, is to not get disheartened by rejection. Rejection is something that you'll encounter throughout your life, as have many successful Writers/Actors faced too. What's important is to believe in yourself, in your work, and to keep progressing and persisting. If you truly believe this is meant to be, it will be in time.
-Lastly, do you recommend the short story and Flash Fiction writers to give it a go on screenplay writing and LISP?
Absolutely! LISP has been great to be a part of, and even more special to get my first finalist selection through it for 'Her, Unwritten'. I think it's a great festival to enter as an independent writer and you can trust that your script will be read. Thank you guys! :)