Interview with screenwriter Ioanna Tsinividi

  • What is the first story you ever wrote?

I think I was in high school and it was a story about a flower growing in a volcano crater. A very melancholic story, the kind adolescents are drawn to.

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

I strongly remember the feeling of blissfulness after watching ‘Underground’ by Emir Kusturica, ‘Breaking the waves’ by Lars Von Trier and ‘All about my mother’ by Pedro Almodóvar. They are not necessarily my favourite films today but they did open a whole new perspective for me at the time.

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

I do not know what is the best way but I guess that every form of exposure is a new chance for a good script to find its way.

  • What experiences from your life influence your characters?

I draw from people I admire to create my ‘superheroes’. Then there are the ‘me’ characters, different versions of myself who are usually more ordinary characters.

  • Can you explain your character development process?

My character development process is my going backward and forward between the characters and the story trying to determine who drives who and why.

  • Do you write bios before you start writing?

Yes, I do write something like a bio which I keep refining as I develop the story.

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

I am so involved I find it hard to kill them or even hurt them without a good reason.

  • What are your thoughts on structure?

The personal vendetta between writers and structured storytelling started many decades ago and it is still not resolved. I think it is legitimate to opt for a freer form of storytelling but also knowing what to do with this freedom once it’s granted. My own method is to construct using traditional tools of storytelling and deconstruct when my structure is starting to feel too rigid.

  • Do you outline before you start writing?

I may outline some parts of the story and let others develop more organically.

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

Obviously, the writer’s in depth understanding of their character is decisive. But at the end, the most accurate measurement of a character’s greatness is the writer’s own level of attraction to them. Is the writer fascinated or bored by their character?