Arab screenwriters fly home from Djerba, with new script editing tools

Euromed Audiovisual's first Socrates scriptwriting and editing workshop wraps up in Tunisia

Programme Activities, Euromed Audiovisual News, Tunisia

Arab screenwriters fly home from Djerba, with new script editing tools

Euromed Audiovisual's three-day Socrates scriptwriting and editing workshop wrapped up in Djerba on Sunday. Organised in cooperation with the French Institute of Tunis, the workshop is just the beginning of an innovative initiative to last until the end of the year to develop the skills of script editors by matching them with scriptwriters.

“I have taken part in many training initiatives and seminars in my life,” said Lebanese filmmaker Meedo Taha, who attended as a scriptwriter with a film script. “Socrates is the best event I have ever attended. There was no useless theory, just practical work and coaching. Every moment has been used in the best possible way."

Over the coming months, participating scriptwriters will continue to work on the new versions of their screenplays for narrative feature films. Each has been paired up with a script editor, who will provide feedback based on these new versions, under the guidance of Isabelle Fauvel and Moroccan filmmaker Faouzi Bensaïdi online.

Moroccan scriptwriter and director Rita El Quessar shared her enthusiasm: “The tutors and the organisers were just wonderful. There was no condescension. The two trainers did not tell you what to do or not to do, what to think or not to think. I felt that this element was extremely important, as often tutors unconsciously try to transfer their frustration or their desires on your project.”

“I applied to Socrates because there are no training courses for script doctors in the Arab world," added Egyptian script doctor participant Ahmed Shawky. "I’m working for a [film production] company and my job consists in reading scripts and following their development to turn the scripts into films. It’s not a formalised activity, and I really wanted to be placed in a more structured environment to improve my skills and meet other professionals."

Jordanian participant Deema Azar, who attended as a script editor, stressed the need to maintain the initiative: “I’m in charge of the training department at the Royal Film Commission – Jordan”, she explained. “My motivation for participating in this workshop was to better learn how to read and analyse a script. We need to get practice, working with real scripts and scriptwriters. This initiative will allow for the recognition of the script editor profession in the Arab world”.

“Like many other colleagues at the seminar, I did not go to traditional film schools to learn scriptwriting," added Egyptian producer Kismet El Sayed, who took part as a script editor. "For us, this training has been an unique opportunity to be placed in a professional environment and learn writing and script editing with real scripts. I now feel much more comfortable to work in this field than before.”

Lebanese producer Elyssa Skaff, who also attended as a script editor, particularly appreciated feedback from a group: “We learn from each other and this collaborative process is exactly what is often missing in our daily work. I now understand better what makes a good script and a bad script, but more importantly, I understand that every script can be improved.”

The relationship between a screenwriter and their script editor is fundamental to developing a film, according to Socrates head of studies Isabel Fauvel, who has over 20 years experience in the film sector and has implemented dozens of film-related training initiatives in Europe and the Arab world.

“It's the first time to have put together script editors and script writers to work together. We have been very lucky, as the groups were composed of extremely talented people who played the game with curiosity, open mind professionalism and motivation.” 

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