Diary 7 of the Central Asian Scriptwriting Lab: Consultations of Iskandar Usmonov

30 September 2021

We continue a series of articles about the work of the Central Asian Scriptwriting Lab (CASL) organised by the UNESCO Office in Almaty as part of the "Strengthening Film Industries in Central Asia" project with the support of the government of the Republic of Korea. This time we want to talk about the work of the project participants with Iskandar Usmonov, a scriptwriter and project trainer from Tajikistan.

Iskandar Usmonov is a member of the Union of Cinematographers of the Republic of Tajikistan, honorary member of the Union of Cinematographers of the Kyrgyz Republic, member of the Union of Journalists of the Republic of Tajikistan, member of the International Confederation of the Union of Journalists of the CIS and Baltic countries. In addition to his education in Russian philology, in 2008 he attended the First International Film Schoolat the International Confederation of the Union of Cinematographers of the CIS and Baltic countries (Russia, Moscow), and in 2011, he graduated from the Asian Film Academy in Pusan, South Korea, in feature film directing and production (class of Krzysztof Zanussi). He is the author of more than 25 films as a filmmaker and scriptwriter, and was awarded an honorary diploma by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Tajikistan for his worthy contribution to the development of the national film industry and the title of Honorary Culture Worker of the Republic of Tajikistan.

About the selection of laboratory participants

Describing his experience with the Central Asian Scriptwriting Lab, the Tajik scriptwriter started with the selection of project participants: At the first stage, together with the other trainers, I took part in consultations on defining objectives and selecting project participants on the basis of the submitted applications. In selecting the applications, I tried to find stories with "seeds", i.e. stories with a good idea, and to assess the applications carefully and, of course, impartially. In addition to the overall quality of the work of the applicants, I also considered some other aspects: whether the application was written by a newcomer or a professional, their experience, motivation, ideas, concept and the uniqueness of the project.

Our hero was slightly disappointed by the number of applications from some countries in the region: It is very sad that there were very few applicants from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. This most probably indicates that local organizations working with filmmakers are not acting responsibly, or that they find the contest inappropriate, or are afraid of such contests. Or maybe this is just another proof of the poor level of training of young scriptwriters in Central Asian countries, particularly in the above-mentioned countries. I think that announcements for further initiatives for filmmakers in Central Asia should be sent to production studios or practicing filmmakers.

About his own consultations

As part of the lab, Mr Usmonov held one general meeting with all participants, in which he focused on the message of the film and the motivation of the audience. As part of the meeting, he also gave a presentation on: how to identify a film idea, write a logline and how to structure your writing routine.

Iskandar Usmonov also held 2 rounds of individual consultations with project participants. During the individual consultations of the first round, the dramaturgical side of the works of the lab participants was discussed first and foremost. The second round of consultations was designed to prepare the participants for the final pitching (presentation and director's statements of the projects). On the whole, I think that the dialogue with the students took place and many of them expressed their opinions openly and unashamedly.

A few tips for scriptwriters

According to Mr Usmonov, creative discipline is the key to writing scripts and any major written work: Set a time when you will be writing. It is important to understand whether you are a morning or a night person. Don't be afraid of a blank sheet of paper! It will absorb all your thoughts. Write even if there is no inspiration. Set your limit (mandatory number of pages per day) taking into account your employment or other responsibilities.

Previous Diaries:
Initial Project Participants;
Project Trainers;
Diary 1: Reviewing Applications and Selecting Participants;
Diary 2: Consultations of Yulia Levitskaya;
Diary 3: Story of Aizada;
Diary 4: Story of Azizbek;
Diary 5: Story of Hurshed;
Diary 6: Story of Ainur.

Permanent link: http://en.unesco.kz/diary-7-of-the-central-asian-scriptwriting-lab-consultations-of-iskandar-usmonov