From Our Dark Side

Writing Update! Switchback is a script I started writing even before FSM was shot. During pre-production on FSM I felt the need to jot down my ideas for a new script, which turned into several pages of screenplay that were then shelved for the better part of a year and a half while FSM utterly took over my life. Its been three years since FSM was shot, two since it was finished, and one since it premiered theatrically in Vancouver. During that time Switchback has been through several iterations including three drafts of a dramatic thriller that I have now decided is not working. The ability to re-start a script from page one is something I envy greatly in other writers I know, but has been a particularly hard challenge for me to meet.

However, Switchback needs it. What started as a relationship drama, albeit with an interesting location and premise, has morphed now into something far more interesting. Travelling with my film the last two years has afforded me the opportunity to see several incredible films by female filmmakers and it helped me realize that I had more to say, and more gutsy choices I wanted to make but was afraid to. I worried too much about playing by the rules (three act structure and likeable protagonists and all the more conventional ways of telling a story.) I want to tell a story that will punch you in the gut and leave you thinking about it in bed at night.

So despite spending several years on a version of Switchback (including significant time developing it with the Women in the Directors Chair Career Advancement Module) that ultimately won’t see the light of day, I am happy to find myself in a place where I can refocus it into something more unusual, visceral and meaningful. I’m excited to take more risks and push myself as a filmmaker and a writer into uncharted (for me) territory.

From Our Dark Side is a genre screenwriting competition through Women in Film and Television Vancouver. This is its third year and gives five female screenwriters the opportunity to develop their genre screenplay with mentorship. It is quite unique and fills a niche I think many people don’t realize is there – women who love genre films and want to make them! It no secret that female directors have a hard time getting hired on big budget genre projects. Every time a woman does finally get the opportunity, her task is scrutinized endlessly, as though she represents every potential woman in genre and if she fails, then it will justify the continued misogynistic practices of not hiring women for the job even though a dude with one feature under his belt is regularly handed a 50 million dollar picture. (I’m getting sidetracked here. Deep breaths.) The handful of successful women in genre (Rachel Talalay is one of my personal idols) is just that, a handful. But the hundreds of applicants to the FODS program speaks for itself.

I submitted (and won) this year with the new version of Switchback I am embarking on, along with four other screenwriters. I know instinctively that Switchback is a good concept. But the mentorship and guidance is huge in helping me take it from a good concept or pitch to a full-fledged screenplay ready to be shot. I have so many ideas and got infinitely more from working with the mentors in the first half of the program (attendance at the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival) and I’m really looking forward to the second half, attending the Frontiers Co-Production Market in Montreal this July. In the meantime I am finally putting those myriad ideas to paper in a treatment which will drive the next draft of the script.


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