Isao Yukisada and Ligiah Villalobos Explored the Art of Screenwriting at 2017 TFA – Screenwriters’ Forum
Isao Yukisada and Ligiah Villalobos Explored the Art of Screenwriting at 2017 TFA – Screenwriters’ Forum - Taipei Film Commission
Organized by Taipei Film Commission (TFC), the 2017 Taipei Film Academy (TFA) – Screenwriters’ Forum took place on September 19th in Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Taipei, Taiwan. This year, TFA presents Ligiah Villalobos from Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Japanese director/writer Isao Yukisada as lectures to talk about the essential aspects of storytelling. As the Screenwriters’ Forum has always been one of the most popular series of TFA, this year’s forum attracted a remarkable number of nearly 600 participants.
Director Isao Yukisada with the participants
Director Isao Yukisada
Director Isao Yukisada
Director Isao Yukisada began the forum with the difficulties screenwriters often encounter when developing the screenplay. Having been an active writer/director in the filmmaking industry for over 20 years, Yukisada revealed that only half of the screenplays he has written were turned into films. He suggested that screenwriters structure the screenplay according to the goal of the film, either for artistic or for commercial purposes. For him, as long as the screenplay is solid enough, it would be less vulnerable to budget, actors, and other factors that are subject to change when being brought to the big screen.
In regard to films based on comics and animation, Yukisada believes the secret of good adaptations lies in turning the banality of daily life into colorful presentation through sincere affection. He especially appreciated Taiwanese New Wave Cinema for how the directors dealt with the theme of “time” in their works, and recalled how director’s Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Dust In The Wind (1986) inspired him in the early days of his career.
TFC Director Jennifer Jao (left) and director Isao Yukisada
Yukisada then illustrated how he drew inspiration from life experience when turning renowned novels into popular and award-winning films, such as Go (2001) and A Day on the Planet (2004). To him, a day when nothing happened seems most eternal and sublime. He learnt the art of repetition from director Yasujiro Ozu’s films about little people, especially in An Autumn Afternoon (1962), where the repetitive scenes of daily life enable audience to ponder upon the transition of seasons and different stages of life.
When asked about which everyday life scenes in Taiwan impressed him the most, director Isao Yukisada named shrimp fishing pools and 24-hour bookstores, and said he loves watching Taiwanese grandpas walking by and taxi drivers arguing with each other on the streets. To the audience’s surprise, he then announced he is scouting location in Taipei for his next film about a Japanese couple travelling in Taiwan, and he wishes to work with renowned cinematographer Mark Lee Ping-bing and sound designer Tu Du-Chih in the future.
TFC Director Jennifer Jao (left) and writer/producer Ligiah Villalobos
Writer/producer Ligiah Villalobos
The forum continued with independent writer/producer Ligiah Villalobos’ lecture on the fundamentals of screenwriting, which marked TFA’s first collaboration with the Writers Guild of America (WGA). Villalobos first introduced the classic three-act structure, and went into details of a compelling storytelling, from the premise, plot, theme, characters, conflict, conclusion/resolution. Among all the elements, she stressed on “theme” and “characters,” citing Juno (2007) as an example. She believes characters are a visual medium that makes a feature film appealing, and advised screenwriters to do thorough researches for their characters.
Villalobos has developed projects for multiple studios and networks, including NBC, ABC/Family, F/X, Showtime, BET, and HBO, and has been script doctor to others. At the forum, she drew examples from the films and TV series she had been involved in, as well as works by other screenwriters to emphasize the tension and conflict in the scenes, such as Jaws (1975) and A Few Good Men (1992). In conclusion, she attributed the universal charm of American films to the three-act structure of the screenplay, and encouraged screenwriters to work with their craft with that principle in their minds.
After the Screenwriters’ Forum, the 2017 Taipei Film Academy will go on with the “Filmmakers' Workshop” from Sep 20th to 23rd.
2017 Taipei Film Academy–Screenwriters' Forum