Cassiah Joski-Jethi is a Drama student at the University of Birmingham. She recently wrote and directed her first short film, The Bridge. I caught up with her to find out a bit more about it.
Tell me about the society, Screenwriter’s Bloc?
Screenwriters Bloc is an arc off University of Birmingham’s Writers Bloc. Last year, I decided that I wanted to start a screenwriting society, which would look at writing for screen but also filmmaking. Writers Bloc wanted to work together, and so Screenwriters Bloc was born! We meet twice a week, in one session we have a film screening and in the second session we discuss each other’s work and work on the more technical/theoretical sides of screenwriting. It’s a great opportunity for students to get involved in film, as I didn’t feel that there were very many when I started University.
When did you start writing screenplays?
I started writing screenplays in summer 2012. I was working in America, but had a lot of free time in the afternoons. I decided to make use of it, and decided to try writing a screenplay from a film idea I had had in my head for a long time. I researched online on how to write screenplays in terms of format and structure. I had never written anything before, and I had always thought of myself as a ‘bad’ writer, but writing screenplays was a great outlet for me because it purely focuses on the visual, not the descriptive.
How did you go about making your film?
Early last year, I was looking into work experience and internships with film companies. Almost all positions said that you needed ‘experience’. It’s that catch 22 where you need experience to get experience. So, I decided to make my own experience. I knew that I would have limited money and resources, so I knew it would have to be a shorter film, and also most likely a modern, realistic drama focusing on characters who were in my age range. After I wrote a screenplay, I asked people to apply for the production positions and to send in audition videos. I wanted to keep the whole experience as professional as possible, so that everyone could get the best experience.
What’s the film about?
The film is a coming-of-age drama that focuses on our protagonist, Lynn. On the cusp of finishing sixth form, personal tragedy forces Lynn to reach out to her estranged dad so that she does not have to be tied down with the responsibility of looking after her younger brother, Bobby. This leads to a numerous of life-changing events, and the film follows this journey. Alongside the narrative, the film explores the themes of identity and status, mainly through Lynn’s hobby of dance. She studies ballet through watching YouTube videos, as that is the only way she can afford it. The clash of styles between the gritty narrative and balletic visuals tries to highlight that young people are able to form their own identity and self of sense despite of where they come from.
Where did you get the funding?
I set up a Kick-starter funding page to help fund the film. It was really simple and I was very lucky as people were extremely generous.
Any tips for budding writers or film makers?
The best tip I can suggest for budding writers is to, as simple as it is, write. Write all the ideas you ever have and write as many screenplays as possible. It’s true that practice makes perfect; it’s all about finding what works for you. People will tell you that you need to pay x amount of money for a screenwriting seminar at x institution. And these can be great, but if you can’t afford it, especially if you’re a student, you do not believe that this is the be all and end all. The Internet is a great source of help too, and try to get in contact with other screenwriter enthusiasts! For filmmakers, I would say it is harder to get into straight away, as film equipment is a lot more expensive than a paper and pen! But if you can get your hands on a camera, just make as many films as possible. If not, watch as many films as you can – it’s great to see how directors establish styles through different technical elements, performance styles and the visual aesthetics. It’s amazing how much you can learn!
A review of The Bridge will be posted in less than a month’s time. For now, you can watch the trailer here.