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Improvisation: A New Approach To Screenwriting

Interview with director Kevin Nash about his latest feature movie "Waking David"


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by Script Reader Pro in Movie Industry Interviews
December 22, 2016 0 comments

Kevin Nash grew up in London wanting to be an actor but somehow ended up in the USA practicing law until he started taking acting lessons in 2000, at the age of 52.

As an actor, he was introduced to the magic of film and realized that what he wanted to do more than anything was to direct.

After completing a postgraduate film degree in London and producing a number of short films, he has now directed his first feature movie “Waking David”. He uses an uncommon approach to screenwriting, exploring improvisational techniques with a team of actors.

Q: Tell us about your latest feature film Waking David

Waking David is a reflection on the problem of communication in the modern world. Ironically, as our means of communicating become more sophisticated, as social media expand, it seems that our ability to have an open dialogue with one another has exponentially diminished.

My intention with Waking David was to explore this problem through the microcosm of one London suburban family over one weekend, during which an outsider tries to learn about her father, David, and how he died. The further she seeks the truth, the more the family erects a wall of silence around the circumstances of his death.

Waking David explores Henrik Ibsen’s recurring themes about the dangers of secrets, lies, and miscommunication, in a modern London setting.

Q: Could you explain the improvisation technique you and your team used to create the screenplay?

Waking David was developed and devised through a process of actor/writer improvisation. Initially, the three principal actors – Harriet Madeley, Kristy Bruce and Shane Bruce – created characters that were based, in whole or in part, on real life people they knew.

Then, in a series of meetings with me, they developed a basic “setup” in which their characters would come together and be in a conflicting relationship. From this basic setup, a synopsis was developed, scene-by-scene, in further meetings.

When there was a basic, workable narrative (now containing six characters instead of the initial three), auditions were held to find the three remaining actors needed to complete the script.

Then, over a period of three weeks, each scene in the scenario was improvised to create original and truthful dialogue. The improvisation sessions were recorded and the audio recordings were used to create a final screenplay (after additional improv sessions and a lot of drafts).

Q: Did you go to film school? And if so, would you recommend it?

Yes and yes – at least, for me. I found that both the technical and analytical tools I developed at film school provided the foundation and structure for my work as a director.

By providing a background to the work of other directors, film language and script analysis, film school helped me to think creatively.

It’s really difficult to develop a career as a director today, and film school helps to build relationships that endure throughout your career.

Many of the principal people who collaborated with me on Waking David were either alumni of Queen Mary or connected with other collaborators who were alumni.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring screenwriters what would it be?

Learn your craft but don’t be a slave to it.

Don’t try to fit your work into specified “genres” or expectations of what a story should say or how it should be told. Look for and find your own inspiration and use your craft to give a voice to it. In short, think outside the scriptwriting box.

Q: What are some of your favorite movies of the past year?

Son of Saul: A very hard film to watch but for that very reason a film that should not be missed. Its timeless messages resonate even more poignantly these days.

Victoria: I would love to make a film in one single take. For me, Victoria is the finest and most compelling example of this approach.

Fire at Sea: Proof that there are more lyrical ways to tell a story in a documentary form than simply interviews and footage.

The Unknown Girl: Another great offering by the wonderful Dardennes brothers.

Q: How can people find out more about you and your latest movie?

This is the Waking David Twitter and Facebook page.

We have also submitted the film to a number of film festivals in the USA and Europe and are waiting to hear back from them. So keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages for news of any screenings.

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