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5 Q&A’s with Sherice Griffiths, 24-Hour Screenwriting Challenge winner

Sherice Griffiths is an award-winning filmmaker based in the UK. She developed a passion for filmmaking at the age of eight years old after using her nan’s family camcorder to record her own movies with friends. Sherice studied Film and TV Production at Westminster University and then started out working as a Production Assistant on titles like Justice League, Burn Burn Burn and A Young Doctors Notebook. She also started directing her own short films which have recently been doing the festival circuit in 2019.

In November 2019, Sherice won FilmCon Awards' 24-Hour Screenwriting Challenge.

The rules were simple: 24 hours, up to 5 pages, theme: justice, protagonist: a 50-year-old prisoner. In less than 24 hours, Sherice wrote "Danni's War", a short script about Eric, who spends time with his granddaughter Danielle (Danni) while her parents are away. The two play a game, in which Eric is being sent to Danni's "prison".

We invited Sherice to join us for an interview. Here's her story.

Sherice, congratulations on winning 24-Hour Screenwriting Challenge at FilmCon Awards. We enjoyed reading “Danni's War! In less than 24 hours, you wrote an amusing story with a great twist in end. Let's talk about how you started out. Tell us about your background, what sparked your interest in screenwriting? I'm predominantly a director/producer so screenwriting is quite new to me. However it's always been something I've been keen to learn and I have just recently finished a screenwriting course at The Met Film School in London. As a director I'm really keen to start producing more of my own original content and I've really loved the process of focusing solely on screenwriting lately.

Your winning entry, “Danni's War”, tells the story of Danielle (Danni), a 6-year-old girl and her grandfather Eric, who play a game: Danielle puts Eric in a 'prison' in her room. Once Eric takes control of his granddaughter, some misunderstandings might occur. What are some of the challenges in writing a short screenplay in 24 hours? 

Overthinking can be one of the biggest challenges of writing a screenplay in 24 hours. I think settling on an idea and sticking to it can be quite a tough moment in the challenge as you're not sure if you've really had time to work out your story completely, so it can feel quite daunting when you start. 

Tell us about your writing process. How do you approach a new story? What kind of stories attract you? 

I'm still trying to find the process that fits me best. I've started writing a detailed synopsis for most of my recent screenplays but because time was short for this challenge I decided to free write and just see where the story led me. I think thats one of the things I enjoyed most about the task because it allowed me to just experiment and let the story naturally develop. I don't really have a particular kind of story that I'm attracted to, at the moment I'm quite drawn to writing comedies so I have a few of those in development but I also enjoy sci-fi and thrillers. 

Who are some of your favorite writers, and what do you like about their work?

There's a lot of writers I love, the first writer I thought of was Charlie Kaufman. I love Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and being John Malkovich. Cinematically great films and also brilliant screenplays which I would recommend reading if you haven't already. In your opinion, what are the ingredients for creating a good screenplay? Do you have any tips for other first-time screenwriters?

Great characters, conflict and something to say. I think the best advice I've heard is to just write. Even if you're unsure what your story is try to get something written down and get the idea out of your head onto paper. 

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