Aleksandra is writing a series of articles on Berlin Filmmakers. Her first article is on screenwriting and reasons why to follow that career path. For this, she interviewed one of the authors of ‘Screenwriters Berlin’.
Many people are in Berlin to follow their dream. Meeting people who can tell dreamy stories with a past full of risky paths driven by a fateful instinct is one of the many good sides of this vibrant city. Berlin is the kind of metropolis where you can meet a lawyer who decides to become a tennis teacher; a technical engineer who chooses to juggle fireballs on Berlin’s streets; a musician financing his breakthrough with a job in finances; or a screenwriter who went through the most diverse jobs to reach his goal.
In order to find out more about the connection between career dreams and reality in the film sector, I talked to Berlin based screenwriter Carlos Calvo. Carlos – one of four authors at Screenwriters Berlin – went through several stages in his life to pursue his childhood dream of becoming a screenwriter. Together with his co-partners and former fellow students of the German Film and Television Academy Berlin (Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin) he co-founded ‘screenwriters-berlin’. Here they write screenplays for TV as well as for cinema and new media. Amongst other projects, Carlos wrote the screenplay for an episode of the TV series “Der Kommissar und das Meer” and with his screenwriters-berlin associates made the concept for the series „Meine schönsten Jahre” for RTL-Television. He also realised the concept, directed and post-produced the documentary ‘Adios Heimat’ which was inspired by his parents who migrated to Germany and returned to Spain over 30 years later. Additionally, he is working on the screenplay for both a drama and a thriller.
After entering our meeting point – a cosy Café in Prenzlauer Berg – the conversation with Carlos was immediately casual. Easily we moved from one topic to another and talked about a variety of things that make living your dream meaningful. Carlos went through so many diverse and instructive stages in his young life that sometimes I felt as if he embodied the soul of an old man. As the son of Spanish immigrants he grew up in one of Germanys working-class neighbourhoods with the dream to become a film director or screenwriter. Before that childhood dream could be fulfilled, he was (and still is) a photographer; joined a theatre group; worked in a children’s home for maladjusted adolescents; and financed his screenwriting studies with a supermarket job. During all this time, however, he always imagined himself as a screenwriter and dreamt of his screenplay ideas being turned into films.
Throughout the conversation I was reassured that in order to progress in the film world, it is essential to have a good network and to constantly market yourself. Multiple submissions of screenplays and repeated story pitches can easily be pointless without the right network. Being straightforward and a bit of a sales person is always a plus, but the power of charismatic networking could be regarded as even more important. A well-established network opens doors! It is needless to say that discipline and determination to succeed are prerequisites for a long-term career as a filmmaker, but as Carlos stated: “you need to be ready to reject jobs that are incompatible with your moral values.” So there is simply no way around taking the time to establish a good network in order to find the right screenwriting projects – projects that will be produced according to your vision and fill you with pride.
Trying to become a successful screenwriter is just as much an endeavour and venture as in any other artistic job, but if it is your true dream and purposeful destiny, it is worth all the hassle. As Carlos explained to me: “Being able to finish the screenplay and knowing it is getting produced is a reward that make it all worthwhile.” His dream scenario as a screenwriter is to view the audience in a cinema, which is watching a film based on his screenplay. He told me that instead of watching the film he would prefer to watch the reactions of the audience and see how they experience the lines he created. This is when I understood that Carlos would never regret pursuing his childhood dream of becoming a screenwriter.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “What is not started today is never finished tomorrow.” After talking to Carlos, I want to give nine reasons why you should start today with following your dream of becoming a screenwriter:
- You will write your favourite film. A screenwriter who had a dream and took risks wrote your favourite film.
- You will enter a new world. The choice of becoming a screenwriter will change your environment and networking sphere. You will meet new, creative and interesting people.
- You will become more interesting and sexier. Following your dream makes you interesting. It shows how courage’s and confidant you are.
- You will grow. Hardly anything will turn out as planned, but you will personally grow with each obstacle you overcome.
- You will experience your vision and work being turned into action. The day will come when your screenplay will be turned into a film. Your lines will get a voice.
- You will learn to ignore negative people and/or haters. Be prepared that your choice will attract negative people and haters that will try to discourage you. Ignoring them and one day looking back at them with a bright smile is an amazing feeling.
- You will be living with less disbelief. Believe in your talent. There are no rules in life, so do not limit your options.
- You will become an inspiring artist. People who see your work or hear your story may feel inspired.
- You will NEVER have to ask yourself: ‘What if I had just been brave enough to live my dream?’