My name is Thais Duarte and I am 24 years old. I was born and raised in Brazil and currently live in Dubai for the past 3 years, working as an international flight attendant. I’ve been aiming to make it in the screenwriting industry for a few years, but my passion for films and telling stories about women, dates back from as far as I was a 14-year-old. My radical feminist beliefs go hand-in-hand with my storytelling and I wanna share the point-of-view of non-white females who are often overlooked by the media, yet still face the patriarchy head on.
What was the moment that defined you choosing screenwriting?
I would have to say it took me a while to realize that this could be a real career path for me. Growing up, it was difficult to see myself as someone sharing my stories in the big or small screen due to the fact that I believed it to be impossible, if you are not in Hollywood, or even in the US and the chances of ever breaking in were close to zero. After I left Brazil, it became clear to me that there really is no borders that could get in the way of a passionate, dedicated filmmaker. I decided to pursue my goals while having my day-job because I knew I needed to see people like me and my friends represented and didn’t want to wait for someone else to speak for me.
What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
Be the most YOU that you can be when writing your words. You might have to tone down your corky and weird side on your day-to-day life, but your characters need to come alive and the only way to do that, is letting it all out. Usually when writing my first drafts I try to be as crazy as possible and that’s where the personality of my protagonists come from. I do a lot of people watching as well, something that never fails to provide good bits of dialogue. Your friends can have amazing one-liners without even being aware of it, so take advantage of the interesting people in your life.
What questions should a writer ask herself prior to crafting her story? Take us through your script writing process.
Ask yourself “do I love this enough that I am willing to commit a big chunk of my days to this story?” If the answer is yes, then go for it. You need to feel overwhelmed every time someone asks you what is your script about, because it’s just so important to you that you need to hold back from going on and on about it for hours. That’s when you know your story is worth telling.
I tend to watch some films or series that are related to the script I want to write before I get started, to give myself the right boost. I always write extensive character bios and try to know them as much as possible, asking myself questions like “What would they be listening to on this Sunday morning?” or “How would they react to this real life breaking news I just heard?” and go from there. After my first draft, I back away from my script for about a month, before continuing with the next drafts, which gives me a good perspective (and usually makes me go “what was I thinking when I wrote this?” haha)
What movies or stories inspire your creativity?
Movies like “I Shot Andy Warhol”, “Go Fish” and “Born In Flames” are some that come to mind. I love how unapologetically radical they are. As far as screenwriting goes, Tarantino takes the cake, for me and “Death Proof” is an excellent example of an exploitation b-movie done right.
As a writer you have the choice of writing for films, television or web series. Out of the three do you have a preference and if so why? Also is there a major difference in any of the three when trying to convey a story?
I started out focusing on film, but have found that two of my most beloved stories are best told as television material, so writing for TV has become my main goal. I particularly like to dive in the world that I am creating in details and lately TV has been THE place for female writers and directors who want to introduce less mainstream characters and topics. Viewers become more involved with episodic content and there is more room for character growth, as well.
I recently joined ASA – American Screenwriters Association and have my eyes on Writers Guild of America and POWER UP films for 2017.
How do you deal with writers block?
It always helps me, when I am having a bad case of writers block, to just write the most absurd outcome to that scene that I can possibly think of. After I get a good laugh out of it, there is the chance of some of the craziness turning out to be useful somehow, maybe even later in the script. Not writing at all and waiting for inspiration to magically show up never works for me. It has the risk of putting you in that comfortable position of avoiding your writing while you feel like you are giving yourself a perfectly good excuse. Don’t fall for it.
What’s next for you?
My big project for the next 2 years is bringing the pilot of my series to life. I want to get together with a team and shoot a low-budget pilot for this project that has been my biggest priority for the past 3 years. I want to keep on improving my craft and also have a couple more ideas waiting to be outlined, so busy days are ahead!
How can we keep in touch?
You can contact me via my instagram account @girldressedinnoir where I am most active.
Shivawn Hill, is a writer, director and a storyteller at heart. She’s currently in production with her short documentary film. She believes that one day soon she’ll form the ultimate group of Storytellers who will travel the world to share the stories of creative peculiar people. Come hang out with her on Instagram.