Diary 8 of the Central Asian Scriptwriting Lab: Consultations of Erke Dzhumakmatova

7 October 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 Kyrgyz producer and scriptwriter Erke Dzhumakmatova, who also was one of the project trainers.

Erke Dzhumakmatova has more than 20 years of experience in the film industry of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, as a TV host, actress, executive and creative producer, scriptwriter of documentaries, feature, contract films and manager of international projects. Currently she is a member of the Board of the Filmmakers' Union of Kyrgyzstan, deputy chairperson of the Producers' Guild of Kyrgyzstan, founder and head of production company "Oymo Studio". She also has practical experience of participating in similar international workshops for producers and scriptwriters in Germany, France, Estonia and Russia.

About CASL and the Central Asian film industry

In general, Ms Dzhumakmatova is very positive about the idea of holding the Central Asian Scriptwriting Lab: As one of the trainers of the CASL Lab, I would like to thank UNESCO Almaty for giving me the opportunity to participate in this wonderful initiative, which has created a Central Asian analogue to the most famous international scriptwriting labs. Projects like this are simply vital for capacity building of local film industries. I would also like to thank the representatives of UNESCO Almaty, with whom we interacted in the process, for maximum loyalty, openness and willingness to hear all our wishes and suggestions, as doing such a project for the first time, they were faced with a very narrow specificity of film activities and together we were resolving issues in due course.

According to the project trainer, it had its strengths, among which she highlighted the very precedent of a similar laboratory in Central Asia and the possibility of presenting projects before an international jury. For similar projects in the future, she also advised hiring regional consultants or supervisors with sufficient experience in the film industry to identify potential projects for the lab in advance and therefore ensure the most diverse pool of participants submitted for selection.

About her own consultations

During the lab, Erke Dzhumakmatova gave two presentations for the participants. The first of them was entitled "Festivals, Funds and Labs for Film Projects from Central Asia". Its first part included a presentation on the hierarchy of global film festivals, foreign funds and labs available for film projects from Central Asia, specific features of local and foreign film industries, copyrights, platforms for scriptwriters, as well as mechanisms of these resources, practical tips and insights. The other part was dedicated to work on the script and practical guidelines for the participants of the lab. The second presentation was held to prepare the lab participants for the final pitching.

At the beginning of the CASL lab, individual consultations were held with each of participants to analyse and discuss in detail the main idea and topic of the future scenario based on the participant's initial, draft materials. Practical recommendations and advice were given, weaknesses and strengths of the project were highlighted, as well as opportunities for implementation and capacity building, both from the artistic and practical, producer's point of view. At a later stage, she also conducted 3 group training sessions to prepare the lab students for the final pitching of their projects: Participants were divided into three groups of seven. The first part of the session included a detailed analysis of the written presentations of each project and practical recommendations and tips for improvement and correction of mistakes. They were given an opportunity to compare their own presentations with those of the other participants and to give their own opinions and comments. In the second part of the meeting participants were pitching their project, which was also followed by a thorough analysis and then a general discussion of each presentation, as well as recommendations for improvement and correction of mistakes. The group members were thus able to compare their own performances with those of the other participants, which was the main learning element of the training.

Finally, producer and scriptwriter from Kyrgyzstan expressed her confidence that participating in the laboratory would be a positive professional experience for the participants: Generally speaking, as a trainer, I am very satisfied with the results I have achieved in terms of project development and preparation. I can now say that the level of participants has really changed and improved and that they will be able to present their projects in front of the international jury with dignity.

A few tips for scriptwriters to work with producers

Our heroine advises paying special attention to the writing of the treatment: In fact, the treatment is one of the most important documents that will influence the overall development of your project, and that will determine whether you are able to implement or sell your script or not. It's important not just to write a good treatment, but to write a very good one, because the script is only read after the treatment. Keep your writing simple and make it as accessible as possible. There is no need for wordy and literary digressions; producers really don't like these (unless you are Lars Von Trier or Alejandro González Iñárritu, of course). There's no need to try to wow producers with your intellectual capacities, your turn of phrase and other artistic background. If the story is interesting in itself, the professionals will definitely see the potential!

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;
Diary 7: Iskandar Usmonov.

Permanent link: http://en.unesco.kz/diary-8-of-the-central-asian-scriptwriting-lab-consultations-of-iskandar-usmonov