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Here at Roobla we love to write about the movies, and at times it can be one tough gig. Believe that and you’ll believe anything, but all joking aside actually writing a movie is far from easy – or at least a good one that gets picked up. In fact getting into screenwriting requires any plucky rookie to make some pretty – make that pretty ugly – hard yards.
Just ask UK-based Italian filmmaker Enrico Tessarin, who’s (technically-speaking at least) been able to call himself a screenwriter for two decades now. Those of you with dreams of becoming the next Richard Curtis should get ready for some harsh truths, although there’s more than a few crumbs of comfort sprinkled on top.
The good news? “I strongly believe that anyone can do it,” Enrico insists. The not so good? “It’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to be fast. I got paid for the first time in my 40s, and I’ve been writing for 20 years.” That might seem like an eternity to some, but it really does separate those who want it so badly it aches, from those who aren’t really in it for the right reasons.
Of course, a hefty dose of realism in amongst all that dreaming is also healthy: “Some writers overestimate their value. It takes time and you have to self-analyse. Maybe you need to be honest with yourself and have to get a lot better. Many writers write for free for ten years.”
I strongly believe that anyone can do it.
If you’re still reading this after that bombshell, then here’s some more of the good stuff. Enrico is the co-founder of Pinch Media, set-up in 2010 to work on projects across the globe, as well as being rightly proud of Shorts 2 Features UK, a set of short courses delivered by the company. On his not-too-distant horizon is a feature, Neeyat, which has Killing Eve‘s Anu Menon in the director’s chair, so it’s fair to say that all those years of scribbling have paid off.
But in keeping with good old-fashioned Italian values, it’s passion that he firmly believes is the key. “My dream was always to make feature films and be a writer, not to be rich,” he says. “You have to be happy. It doesn’t matter how much money you make if it it makes you unhappy. I know a lot of ex-filmmakers who are now happy as bankers. I’ve never cared about money, that’s why I haven’t got any, but I do care about not working on rubbish projects.”
While Enrico has always had a great love for British and European cinema, he openly admits to having no interest whatsoever in Hollywood. “There’s more opportunities in LA for sure,” he acknowledges, “but there’s a lot of competition. You’re much better off staying in your own country until you reach a certain level.”
As for influences, it was a real mixed bag because growing up in Italy meant that all the movies were dubbed: “What was great about it was that it made no difference where the film was from; the US, UK, China, France. It was world cinema.” 1980s Hong Kong gangster flicks from the likes of John Woo were a staple, as was – naturally, in continental Europe – the arthouse genre
You have to be happy. It doesn’t matter how much money you make if it makes you unhappy.
But there was one flick that really inspired the young Enrico. Whilst Three Colours: Blue had formed the basis for his dissertation for film school entry because “it really spoke to me”, a certain Pulp Fiction had yet to be unleashed on an unsuspecting world. “It really made me want to get into cinema,” he recalls. “Me and my director friend went to see it together and were blown away. We came out of the cinema and said ‘we have to make a film!'”
So there you have it. If you want to get into screenwriting the hard way (although there really is no alternative) let your mind take in a melting pot of influences, make it banish any thoughts of getting rich quick, and take your cue from a classic. Oh, and prepare to be patient… very patient.