Part 4)   How Do You Hone Your Voice And Keep It Fresh?

Fresh Ideas

All the old adages on how to write and develop your voice are true: Write from your experiences, write what you know, write the story you want to see. We’ve heard these all before and they are all tried and tested methods for advancing your voice.

We have seen why this advice plays such an integral role in developing your voice throughout our three previous articles on “What is a Fresh Voice and Why it Matters to Your Career”. The number one piece of advice I can add to this is to be passionate about life. Be conscious and aware of what’s in your head and your heart and what it wants to say. Be inquisitive and be observant, of people and events from the past and future. Be well-read in literature, and be well-versed in cinema. But most importantly write, write, continue to write and then rewrite. 


2015 Fresh Voices Headline Judge, Hossein Amini, in His Own Words...

Hossein Amini HeadshotFor me a fresh voice is something we all have. It’s our unique view of the world and our unique emotional response to it. The tricky thing with screenwriting isn’t necessarily how to find that voice but how to free it from all the other acquired voices in our head. That’s not to say being influenced by other people’s work is bad, just that our inspiration from that work should also be fresh and singular. Nobody reads a book or watches a film in the same way. Tarantino’s writing is hugely influenced by other filmmakers yet it still feels original.


Hollywood type writerAspiring screenwriters share a big dream: Selling a screenplay.  That’s the ultimate goal, isn’t it?  It’s with that in mind that most put pen to paper – or more likely put fingers to keyboard.  As such, writing a screenplay that’s un-filmable seems like a fool’s errand.  Why would you write a screenplay that no studio would want to purchase?  Well because it’s sometimes these screenplays that get attention and become your calling card to the industry. The following are five types of un-filmable, not-likely-to-get-purchased screenplays that are still worth writing!


Kenyan writer, Nadeem Rajwani, takes home Grand Prize Award plus 3 Spotlight Awards at Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition

Nadeem RajwaniFresh Voices, headed by chairman Joel Mendoza, and guest judge, Academy Award Nominated Screenwriter Hossein Amini, have named City In The Sun by Nadeem Rajwani the Grand Prize Award Winner of the 2015-16 Screenplay Competition.

City In The Sun was selected from nearly 1,500 entries in a unanimous decision by the judge’s panel. Through five extensive rounds of reading, City In The Sun was consistently identified as a high favorite. Additionally, the screenplay was selected for three Spotlight Awards; Best Ensemble Cast, the Culture & Heritage Award, and Best Foreign Screenplay Award.

Think City of God meets Crash, City In The Sun is a multi-strand, ensemble story set in modern-day Nairobi that weaves an intricate tale of two families from very different backgrounds as their lives unexpectedly intertwine with bittersweet consequences.


When Should I Start Sending Query Letters to Agents and Managers?

Stressing Query LettersWe get asked this question a lot!

You’ve probably heard about actors, actresses and models getting their big break by an agent at the coffee shop, stopped at the traffic light, on the beach! A good look and a charismatic vibe can be spotted a mile away. But how do writers get noticed? Are you supposed to work your abs, get a fit bathing suit and hope your script gets discovered while you strut your stuff? I don't want to disappoint you, but it's not gonna happen!


Reel FxShane Brown, first place winner of the 2015 Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition Thriller Category for his screenplay, The Ripper and the Thief, has been approached by Reel FX Studios to develop a synopsis based on an original idea.

On the heels of his win, Fresh Voices submitted Shane's winning script to Reel FX's Director of Development, Nick Oleksiw. The period writing sample about a criminal mastermind working in Victorian London, at the same time Jack the Ripper terrorized the city, was well received by the company. But while period stories are not within their mandate, there was something about Shane’s voice that prompted Nick to bring Shane this opportunity to develop the story with them. The premise is currently being kept under wraps.

Reel FX recently produced Free Bird starring Owen Wilson, Amy Poehler & Woody Harelson as well as the The Book of Life starring Channing Tatum, Zoe Saldana. Nick, who is in charge of developing Reel FX’s live action genre films, most recently worked at Agency for the Performing Arts.

Shane Brown lives in Melbourne, Australia and is a prolific writer of nine screenplays. With no formal training in screenwriting, he is a self-described graduate of the School of 10,000 Hours. Fresh Voices was his first Screenplay Competition win. 


Nadeem RajwaniIn April of 2016, Fresh Voices named Kenyan born screenwriter, Nadeem Rajwani, the Grand Prize Winner of the 2015 Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition. His Nairobi set screenplay, “City In The Sun”, took home the Grand Prize Award, and in addition won three Fresh Voices Spotlight Awards including the “Culture & Heritage Award”, “Best Ensemble Cast”, and “Best Foreign Script Award”.

The story is an interwoven tale of two men from very different backgrounds, providing for their families in profoundly different ways. It explores the family dynamic from these two divergent perspectives and touches upon such powerful themes as domestic violence, its effect on the family for generations to come, and the uplifting message of the limitless heights we will go to for our loved ones.

Additionally, the film is a portrait of Nairobi; an international city still struggling to shrug off its third world past. As such, the narrative investigates such timely and relatable social themes as police brutality, corruption and points a finger at the social injustices that remain between the have’s and have not’s. While Kenya may seem like a world away, it is very much a story that plays out in our own neighborhoods on a frighteningly regular basis. The climax of the film is a story of two worlds colliding in completely unexpected ways.

The deftness with which the script is written, and the confidence in how such a complex story plays out, is surely that of a writer we wanted to know more about.

Below is an interview with 2015 Fresh Voices Grand Prize Winner Nadeem Rajwani on how he came to screenwriting, how he came to Fresh Voices, and how he came to win!


Jupiter Ascending Theatrical Posterby Vance Berk

Since I first saw Jupiter Ascending in February 2015 it’s climbed the ranks as one of my all-time guilty pleasures.  Why?  Although the Waschowskis’ film was a catastrophic failure both critically and at the box office, I think it’s an important learning tool for any aspiring science-fiction writer on what NOT TO DO.

At the time of its release, I was writing a feature-length spec script based on a universe I’d been developing since high school.  Leaving Jupiter Ascending, I learned 6 important lessons that would influence every key decision as I developed my own Science Fiction Space Opera.


Page 2 of 5