Pustnik is the only international screenwriters’ residency happening in Romania and this year it has reached its 5th edition. As the deadline for submissions approaches, here is a short interview with Andreea Bortun and Bryn Chainey, co-founders of the residency, on expectations, ingredients of a good script and why is Pustnik so special.
I have read once that a good writer has to read twice as much as he writes. Would you agree with that?
Bryn: I'm not going to tell anyone how to balance their time, but generally those who love writing also love reading. That said, it's even more important for a screenwriter to watch a lot of films, and a broad range of them at that. Watching a film, particularly in company, is really the only way to learn which scripts play out the most effectively.
Andreea: I can only take my own experience into account, so I would say good writing comes from a place of clarity within. By that I mean a place that nurtures, more than anything else a need for an understanding, of ourselves and, as much as we are willing to, of the world around us. That need for understanding is vital to me. It can come by way of reading, observing, therapy, watching films. Whatever works. I think the means are not that relevant, the need is that which matters.
2. What are you looking for in the projects you receive this year at Pustnik? Is there something in particular?
Andreea: I guess we’re looking for the same thing every year. A mix of projects that are written with passion and truthfulness, stories told by people who love people and films. And however abstract it may sound, that comes through the material we receive every time.
Bryn: We try to bring in writers with a range of experience, background, and flavour. The biggest thing we're looking for is that the writer's personality comes through in their work: whether it's in their choice of story or the way they tell it, we want to sense that this project has something urgent, personal, and unique to it. It should be obvious that this project is worth watching and there's only one person who can write it. Of course we also have personal preferences and biases (that's inescapable, as much as we try), so really curious applicants should look into the work of screenwriters that we've previously invited.
3. What advice would you have for a screenwriter that's applying at Pustnik this year?
Andreea: To use this opportunity to gather their thoughts and go back to the essence of that story they want to develop. I think the essence is pretty hard to find and it usually takes time to make sure we actually have something we truly care about. The material we're asking from the applicants is meant to help everybody start of on the same level. A one/two page synopsis, if carefully thought through, can tell so much about the degree of commitment the filmmaker has with her/his project at that point in time.
Bryn: Use this application as a deadline to reach your next milestone: finishing the synopsis, the treatment, the moodboard, whatever. The most important thing at this stage of your project is momentum, so get rolling and then it doesn't matter whether you come to Pustnik or not.
4. Last, but not least: describe Pustnik in a few words.
Bryn: For me it's become a yearly opportunity to realign with what matters: the joy of quiet time and the thrill of writing.
Andreea: A place where I get lost in order to pull myself together again. At Cetate, the venue of the residency, I find clarity and time for my writing, but also for myself.
Pustnik will be held during the 2nd and 10th of September at Port Cultural Cetate, on the Danube. Deadline for submissions is 22nd of April, so hurry up! More information on the official website: www.pustnik.com