Watch SYMPOSIUM, Short Script Reading:
NARRATOR – Becky Shrimpton
WOMAN – Fran Townend
SERVICE MAN – Sean Ballantyne
Get to know writer Tom Grady:
1. What is your screenplay about?
“Symposium” is about a very lonely woman who enlists a serviceman to make sense of the sudden appearance of a large appliance in her living room.
2. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?
This script has made many people laugh, and laugh hard only to have the wind taken out of them by the ending. I got very excited indulging myself in the word play of the woman, just being silly and absurd. I also wanted to make this very cinematic and draw attention to our new normal, our selfie society, that we only feel secure when we feel we’re in control of our image—and this is of course a folly. In this regard, I think the film has something to say that people can relate to. Thematically, I think the universal desire to connect over pain that defies words makes us humble, and we need to remember those who have fallen as tough as those feelings may be.
3. How would you describe this story in one sentence?
Actually, I’m going to plagiarize from the wonderful WILDsound feedback, “When an eccentric woman notices something strange in her apartment, she calls for a service man, resulting in an enlightening and emotional conversation.”
4. What movie have you seen the most in your life?
For sheer cinematic storytelling brio, I always go back to Tommy.
5. This is a very tight, emotionally engaging and fun screenplay. How long have you been working on this screenplay?
I adapted this from a play written many years ago. The recent adaptation to a screenplay came quite fast. Two days. I’m mindful of how plays can be adapted poorly. You often see an awkwardly inserted car chase to “open up” the action; alternatively, the film throws up its hands and just reproduces the staging—not cinema. I knew that the Woman wanted to connect with the outside world, so I crafted the selfie stick as a means to quell her shakes as she attempted to memorialize her grief. The movie within a movie element as well as the appliance making its entrance halfway through were my cinematic flourishes.
6. How many stories have you written?
So many, lost count.
7. What motivated you to write this screenplay?
9/11. Specifically, I wanted to show how grief is an insider’s game. You can recognize others who carry the weight of it, and it feels good to nod to each other.
8. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
None to speak of. As an academic, I lead a pretty privileged writing life.
9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
A little mosey down Bond Street, a little sniff around Gucci, sidle up to Ralph Lauren, pass through Browns and on to Quags for a light lunch.
10. What influenced you to enter the WILDsound Festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
I like the idea that you were going to get substantial feedback. I must say, I felt quite flushed with pride reading the comments. Writing can be a lonely life, and especially in screenwriting, there’s no readily available audience to share your work, so reading the response that gave such care to the specifics of my intent was quite a bolster to my resolve to keep on going.
11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
I don’t know that I have any sage wisdom here, but I’d say tell the truth. Tell the truth that is most risky. Get outside and play with others. Volunteer for a theater or any arts organization.
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