When Precious won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay it elevated its screenwriter, Geoffrey Fletcher, to a world stage. He completed work on his directorial feature debut, Violet & Daisy last year and his short films have won numerous awards.

He has recently announced his involvement in Bombay Sapphire’s Imagination Series which will look for screenwriters and directors to submit their proposal for a short film based on a script Fletcher wrote. Given that  submissions can come from around the world and leave much to the imagination there is an enormous amount of potential for this project to spark many diverse films, all with the same origin.

We spoke to the screenwriter to get an idea of his journey to the film industry, and what he hope from the Imagination Series.

Can you explain your involvement with the Bombay Sapphire Imagination Series and why you wanted to get involved?

Bombay Sapphire approached me about it and I was thrilled to be involved as we have the same ideas about imagination, creative and opportunity so it was a perfect fit. Before Precious came out I was teaching film and I developed an assignment with a similar underlying philosophy, and much like the script for this Imagination series the scripts I designed back then was one stripped of direction, character description and location details and what we love about it is that it provide structure, plot and an enormous amount of space for people to take the story in any direction they wish. In any genre they wish, and using any technique they wish – live action, animation, drawing… So we feel there is so much talent everywhere but perhaps less opportunity. So we hope to unearth some remarkable talented people but what’s as important is to inspire people in their everyday lives. I know that when I had jobs outside of the industry I had to create on my own time. I’d make short films, write features scripts and I found that every other aspect of my life became brighter. And that really sustained me through this long, continuing journey into the film industry.

As well as inspire the creative impulse are you also looking to offer a worldwide platform to be seen?

Absolutely, giving people a place to share their work is one of the big elements of this programme because these days studio films require such an enormous investment to roll out any film that they are often wary of taking any sort of chance, and we encourage people to really make their submissions personal and the greatest thing that anyone can invest in this project is themselves, rather thana  great deal of money. No amount of money every bought any inspiration or heart.

Just a great deal of pressure?

Yeah, its rare that we get to fully express ourselves in any aspect of our lives and this is a great opportunity to do that.

Do you think is a lack of originality in modern cinema?

I do think there were periods of great originality and I hope that some of that spirit can return. You look at American films of the 70s, European films of the 60s from France and Italy – the French New Wave, the Czech New Wave, Neo-realism, all of the incredible Japanese films from Kurosawa and Ozu – on and on! It was a different time and I really think that some of the cultural shifts might have had their impact, and film would have reflected those shifts. It’s a ripple effect and perhaps a catalyst as well. It would be great for a new wave to emerge.

Is it possible that given the changes since those times, with the world being more connected, that the next new wave will be a generational one, rather than a geographical one?

That is a wonderful concept to consider, and perhaps it’s a worldwide wave as opposed to something specific. That’s a great possibility. One of the things we’re excited about is to see, worldwide, what specific similarities and differences there are in the submissions. Maybe we’ll see certain trends. Oftentimes we’re so preoccupied with our differences when we have a vastly greater amount in common. It will be interesting because the script has an openess that can reveal certain telling elements of the zeitgeist.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given, that you would want to give to those entering the competition?

I would advise them to really put themselves into the project, to express themselves with this work and not try to replicate what they’ve seen in other films. Above all we’re looking for imagination and a very personal, inspired vision. Those vision can be from a variety of scopes A personal vision doesn’t mean it’s a character piece. One could argue that Star Wars is a very personal film…

Or something like E.T.? You can imagine that being very personal to Spielberg…

That’s a good example.

Finally, to all of the directors and writers out there – what is the essence of what you are looking for?

Truth and inspiration that leap off of the page, or off of the screen. It’s what makes a film resonate with an audience long after it has ended. It’s something that money can’t buy. That can be expressed in a number of different ways. Something can be quietly earth-shattering or brazenly earth-shaking. But if it’s done with a sense of real passion it becomes something to behold.

Post sponsored by Bombay Sapphire.