Oscar winning writer, director and producer Geoffrey Fletcher was in London this week to promote his new side project with Bombay Sapphire and Tribecca Film Festival. Best known for his screenplay adaptation Precious, He is the first African-American to win an Academy Award for writing. Geoffrey Fletcher was commissioned by Bombay Sapphire to write a short screenplay for filmmakers to adapt to their own imaginations. We were lucky enough to chat to him about inspiration and creativity.
Cult Hub: How are you involved in the Bombay Sapphire Imagination Series and what drew you to the project?
Geoffrey Fletcher: I was approached by Bombay Sapphire and The Tribeca Film Festival about the project and I immediately said yes. As I struggled for years to get into the industry, I would make short films and scripts on my own time. Those projects honed my craft and seemed to brighten every other area of my life – a competition like this can be extremely liberating and the perfect outlet for imagination and creativity. We probably have so much more imagination than we realize
I’ve been married to film from a very young age.
CH: This project and the competition is all about imagination. How do you personally fuel your imagination and creativity?
GF: A change in routine or scenery sparks new ideas – anything from taking a walk in a park or museum to observing people in their everyday lives.
CH: How did you approach writing the script for the competition?
GF: In storytelling, a degree of structure is often helpful but a degree of freedom is also important. This script’s framework leaves enough room for participants to take the story wherever they wish and to make the piece their own. Having a foundation like that in place might also spur budding filmmakers into action.
Whatever art you create, exploring other fields can help to enrich it.
CH: Your undergraduate degree was in psychology before you went on to study a masters in film. How has this influenced how you approach writing for the screen and film-making?
GF: Psychology was an enomorous help. It concerns itself with character motivation and examines internal obstacles that a character can face. Whatever art you create, exploring other fields can help to enrich it.
CH: Like many apparent overnight successes, you struggled for years before Precious. How did you keep yourself motivated and did you ever feel like giving up?
GF: From the moment I received my first camera, filmmaking was my dream. Like many people in the film industry, it’s difficult to see myself being nearly as motivated in any other field. I’ve been married to film from a very young age.
CH: What is the essential ingredient you will be looking for from the interpretations of the script?
GF: Imagination, inspiration and a point of view. These are priceless – no amount of money spent on a production can buy those elements. The richness of the ideas is what is most important.
As well as being a writer, director and producer, Geoffrey is also an adjunct professor of film at Columbia University and New York University. He is currently at work on Atticca, a re-creation of the 1971 Attica state prison uprising, a four-day standoff between inmates and guards at the New York correctional facility. Director Doug Liman and Fletcher took a trip to Attica to research, and you can read all about that here.