2015 Grand Prize Winner Nadeem Rajwani Screenwriter Interview

Written by Fresh Voices on .

Nadeem RajwaniIn April of 2016, Fresh Voices named Kenyan born screenwriter, Nadeem Rajwani, the Grand Prize Winner of the 2015 Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition. His Nairobi set screenplay, “City In The Sun”, took home the Grand Prize Award, and in addition won three Fresh Voices Spotlight Awards including the “Culture & Heritage Award”, “Best Ensemble Cast”, and “Best Foreign Script Award”.

The story is an interwoven tale of two men from very different backgrounds, providing for their families in profoundly different ways. It explores the family dynamic from these two divergent perspectives and touches upon such powerful themes as domestic violence, its effect on the family for generations to come, and the uplifting message of the limitless heights we will go to for our loved ones.

Additionally, the film is a portrait of Nairobi; an international city still struggling to shrug off its third world past. As such, the narrative investigates such timely and relatable social themes as police brutality, corruption and points a finger at the social injustices that remain between the have’s and have not’s. While Kenya may seem like a world away, it is very much a story that plays out in our own neighborhoods on a frighteningly regular basis. The climax of the film is a story of two worlds colliding in completely unexpected ways.

The deftness with which the script is written, and the confidence in how such a complex story plays out, is surely that of a writer we wanted to know more about.

Below is an interview with 2015 Fresh Voices Grand Prize Winner Nadeem Rajwani on how he came to screenwriting, how he came to Fresh Voices, and how he came to win!

6 Screenwriting Lessons I Learned From Watching Jupiter Ascending

Written by Fresh Voices on .

Jupiter Ascending Theatrical Posterby Vance Berk

Since I first saw Jupiter Ascending in February 2015 it’s climbed the ranks as one of my all-time guilty pleasures.  Why?  Although the Waschowskis’ film was a catastrophic failure both critically and at the box office, I think it’s an important learning tool for any aspiring science-fiction writer on what NOT TO DO.

At the time of its release, I was writing a feature-length spec script based on a universe I’d been developing since high school.  Leaving Jupiter Ascending, I learned 6 important lessons that would influence every key decision as I developed my own Science Fiction Space Opera.

Query Letters: A Necessary Evil Or A Waste Of Time

Written by Fresh Voices on .

When Should I Start Sending Query Letters to Agents and Managers?

Stressing Query LettersWe get asked this question a lot!

You’ve probably heard about actors, actresses and models getting their big break by an agent at the coffee shop, stopped at the traffic light, on the beach! A good look and a charismatic vibe can be spotted a mile away. But how do writers get noticed? Are you supposed to work your abs, get a fit bathing suit and hope your script gets discovered while you strut your stuff? I don't want to disappoint you, but it's not gonna happen!

4 Ways To Use Image In Your Screenplay

Written by Arik Cohen on .

When a Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

Picture worth a thousand wordsWhen you think of the greatest screenplays you probably think of films with witty banter or complex plot structure, what you probably don’t think about is image. Don’t underestimate the power of a single image on your audience. It’s a vibrant color on your palette, and here are a few ways to paint with it:

5 Screenwriting Lessons from 2015's Best Films

Written by Arik Cohen on .

Old ProjectorAnother year, another batch of wonderful films. To a regular moviegoer they're just entertainment, but to a screenwriter they are inspiration. Every film is a potential lesson for what to do (and maybe for what not to do). For your convenience, here are some of the best lessons you can take from the movies that lit up screens in 2015!

5 Screenplays Worth Writing, Even If They'll Never Sell

Written by Arik Cohen on .

Hollywood type writerAspiring screenwriters share a big dream: Selling a screenplay.  That’s the ultimate goal, isn’t it?  It’s with that in mind that most put pen to paper – or more likely put fingers to keyboard.  As such, writing a screenplay that’s un-filmable seems like a fool’s errand.  Why would you write a screenplay that no studio would want to purchase?  Well because it’s sometimes these screenplays that get attention and become your calling card to the industry. The following are five types of un-filmable, not-likely-to-get-purchased screenplays that are still worth writing!

What is a Fresh Voice? Academy Award Nominated Screenwriter Hossein Amini

Written by Hossein Amini on .

2015 Fresh Voices Headline Judge in His Own Words...

Hossein Amini HeadshotFor me a fresh voice is something we all have. It’s our unique view of the world and our unique emotional response to it. The tricky thing with screenwriting isn’t necessarily how to find that voice but how to free it from all the other acquired voices in our head. That’s not to say being influenced by other people’s work is bad, just that our inspiration from that work should also be fresh and singular. Nobody reads a book or watches a film in the same way. Tarantino’s writing is hugely influenced by other filmmakers yet it still feels original.

What is A Fresh Voice & Why It Matters To Your Screenwriting Career Part IV

Written by Joel Mendoza (Producer & Founding Partner Fresh Voices LLC) on .

Part 4)   How Do You Hone Your Voice And Keep It Fresh?

Fresh Ideas

All the old adages on how to write and develop your voice are true: Write from your experiences, write what you know, write the story you want to see. We’ve heard these all before and they are all tried and tested methods for advancing your voice.

We have seen why this advice plays such an integral role in developing your voice throughout our three previous articles on “What is a Fresh Voice and Why it Matters to Your Career”. The number one piece of advice I can add to this is to be passionate about life. Be conscious and aware of what’s in your head and your heart and what it wants to say. Be inquisitive and be observant, of people and events from the past and future. Be well-read in literature, and be well-versed in cinema. But most importantly write, write, continue to write and then rewrite. 

What is A Fresh Voice & Why It Matters To Your Screenwriting Career Part III

Written by Joel Mendoza (Producer & Founding Partner Fresh Voices LLC) on .

Key To SuccessPart 3)  Why a Fresh Voice is Your Key to a Successful Career?

As a literary agent, manager and producer, selling writers and their screenplays for eighteen years before becoming a founding member of Fresh Voices, I have learnt that the paramount quality you need to establish yourself as a successful screenwriter is to find, develop and hone your own unique voice.  It is on this guiding principal that Fresh Voices was found.

Let’s face it. While many writers aspire to launch their careers in Hollywood by selling a spec script, the odds of success this route are pretty low. WGA does not provide precise data but I would venture to guess that only a slim minority of writers jumpstart their career by selling a spec screenplay, even a finely executed one. The vast majority of in-demand screenwriters build their careers by taking on writing assignments, work-for-hire jobs and commissions (rewrites, adaptations and first drafts based on pitches, treatments and synopses). These writers are not household names. They are not the A-list. They are diligent, dedicated writers who work tirelessly to bring words to life. I’ve heard them referred to as blue collar writers. They are the lifeline of the film and television business. But as an unknown writer, how do you even get such an opportunity to be considered for one of these coveted jobs, and once you are, how do you stand out among all the other writers and how do you seal the deal?

What is A Fresh Voice & Why It Matters To Your Screenwriting Career Part II

Written by Joel Mendoza (Producer & Founding Partner Fresh Voices LLC) on .

Part 2)   What Makes Your Voice Fresh?

What is a Fresh VoiceIn Part 1 we brought a better understanding to what the Screenwriter’s Voice is, and equally important is understanding what makes the screenwriter’s voice Fresh. Every writer has their own unique voice, but what makes their voice fresh? For a voice to be considered fresh, it needs to connect with and excite an audience.

Film is one of the most powerful forms of communication known to man. Why would somebody make a film just to keep for themselves? The point of film is to show, and for the viewer to share the experience. The very purpose of film is to reach, entertain and sometimes even influence the public.