Academy Award winner Geoffrey Fletcher is creating new opportunities for aspiring filmmakers. Fletcher, who won an Oscar for “Best Adapted Screenplay” for the feature film Precious, is working with Bombay Sapphire and the Tribeca Film Festival on a new project: The Bombay Sapphire Imagination Series Short Filmmakers Competition.
The competition, announced last Thursday, will allow aspiring to use their imaginations, and a screenplay written by Fletcher, to create their own interpretation of a story. All participants can view the script at www.imaginationseries.com and begin submitting their five-minute films starting May 8.
The screenplay is very open-ended, using no-name characters and simplistic dialogue that filmmakers can add to as they see fit. “With this Imagination Series, budding filmmakers really have a great deal of room to really take the story in so many directions,” explains Fletcher. The filmmaker the choice of genre, time period, style and production technique – even whether or not the setting takes place on planet Earth!
“There is a great deal of talent in the world but not enough opportunity,” says Fletcher. “Everybody has imagination but it is rare that it’s fully engaged. I think that there are wonderful things that can come from that, and wonderful things that can extend into personal life.”
The Tribeca Film Festival has chosen a panel (including Fletcher himself) to select five winners from the entries. The five that reach the winners’ circle will then be given the chance to direct and produce their own feature length version of their submission and premiere it in 2013.
For Fletcher, filmmaking and writing are passions, not just efforts to earn recognition. “It isn’t just the idea of making a film, it’s the fulfillment that can come from self expression,” he says.
At the age of 12 he started to make short films, using his toys, and then moved on to bigger and even more creative things.
After graduating from Harvard University, he continued his education studying film at New York University’s Tisch School of Arts. Fletcher soon became a buzz-worthy student when his film, “Magic Markers”, won the Directors Guild of America Student Film Award and was featured at the Sundance Film Festival.
In 2006 he was asked to adapt a screenplay for the novel “Push”, by Sapphire, which turned in to the award-winning film “Precious”. With this film, among other accolades, Fletcher became African American to win an Academy Award for writing.
Even while promoting the Imagination Project, Fletcher is an adjunct film professor at Columbia University and New York University’s Tisch School of Arts. He is also making his feature film directorial debut with “Violet & Daisy,” to be released later this year.
Through his career, he has realized that creativity distinguishes great filmmakers from others. The status of “budding filmmaker” comes with a rather wilted film budget, but Fletcher stresses that it is talent that will bring success in this competition.
“What’s priceless is imagination,” he says. “Imagination is a big part of it and inspiration is the other. You can take so many details big and small that add up to an immersive experience for the viewer.”
He stresses that the competition is looking for films and storylines that have an impact not only on the audience but the filmmakers themselves.
“I hope that they will be inspired to imagine even more things. For those who aren’t budding filmmakers, I hope they experience the profound and positive impact that imagination can have in their lives.”