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Interview with screenwriter Maliheh Gholamzadeh

  • What is the first story you ever wrote?

I was 7 years old when I wrote a story for my performance at school. Then, I wrote a play accordingly.

  • Growing up, what movies or stories inspired your creative passion?

I was born in 1980s and coincide with the Iran-Iraq war. All programs and animations broadcasted on the National TV Channel 2 were related to war directly or indirectly. The theme of these films always included problems of people who either lost somebody or searched for a beloved one or problems of families who had to emigrate and live a hard life. The films broadcasted for adults also had the same themes or they were in the war genre.

The available stories and books had also the same themes. Therefore, unconsciously, the fear of losing has become my biggest concern since then.

  • For an unknown writer, what is the best way to get their screenplay seen?

I think choosing common themes and directness in writing the screenplay unlock the door of the professional world. Simplicity and frankness are so attractive that they immediately catch the eyes of directors and audiences.

  • What experiences from your life influence your characters?

In all my works, one of the characters is me or a person very similar to me. Perhaps, it would be interesting to know that the initial idea of the story “Tangle” and its character have been based on my personal experience.

  • Can you explain your character development process?

Firstly, I think of a background or backstory for the character. After a short familiarity with each other, I define his or her key personal characteristics and the character started to live accordingly. I rarely change those characteristics because I believe in the real world people also have some unchangeable characteristics and behavior that we have tolerated, whether we like it or not.

  • Do you write bios before you start writing?

I’ll do this for sure when I don’t know my character’s personality.

  • How emotionally involved are you with the characters you create?

It’s happened many times that I’ve lost myself in the characters’ life in the way that I could solve some vague points of story while dreaming in sleep or I help the characters as though we are living together.

  • What are your thoughts on structure?

Everybody knows that to have a good screenplay, the beginning and end parts and the turning point are important. However, I think that a screenplay fails by excessive, ambiguous and trivial information, and sometimes by generalization and prevarication.

  • Do you outline before you start writing?

Yes! My roadmap is writing a three-line film project. By this method the destination is determined and I only try different paths to reach it.

  • What is the most important aspect of building a great character?

Familiarity with backstory and the character’s personality and mood will lead to the creation of a real character. The real character has both a specific goal and a reasonable reaction to events and challenges similar to the reactions happening in the real world. Generally, the character should have a believable personality.