How I became an accidental screenwriter; Caleb Somtochukwu Okereke
In the comfort of my Lagos home, I write scripts. Endless pages of stories burdened in my heart to tell, stories of men and women who dared, who vowed to become. And unlike prose writing where I have had to rely on my descriptive prowess, on my ability to tell the necessary stories in lines and lines of description, scriptwriting has taught me differently. It is that story I am here to tell.
The first script I write is a short. I am on Instagram one morning, double tapping to like photos, holding my thumb still against my screen to view stories for longer when I get a direct message from an actor friend. She needs me to write a short and to singularly develop a web series. I shudder.
My first instinct is to say, I do not know how to do these things, because that in actuality would be the truth, but the financial aspect rears its head and I reply with a “How soon do you want it?” instead, and she is thrilled.
I make an attempt to ask for a synopsis, does she want anything in particular? Is there any story she needs to be told? She trusts me to tell a lovely story, she says, whatever I come up with will entirely by fine by her. And I remember wondering in that moment how anyone, how someone I had only met once and who had subsequently followed my writing, could believe in me in a way I did not even believe in myself.
He is the first person I tell, I refer to him as He because it is the language that is most convenient for us. He, an award winning movie director who would rather I be silent about his name, I, his writer friend who he had repeatedly told would make a great screenwriter.
“I need help,” I say and he is willing to listen. He wants to know how he can help, we video call for hours, my burden is slightly lifted. That night, he sends me a copy of the script of his yet to be released movie in my email with a cover letter that ended with; Hope it can be of great use. Cheers.
He is a lovely person; I do not often tell him this.
My next moments are spent on Youtube, watching script-writing workshops, reading PDF’s on the art and of course reading scripts. I format my MS word software into a parody of Final draft –I was not going to spend huge amounts purchasing software to pursue a career that might not actually turn out great –and I familiarized myself with the terms of screenwriting.
But even then I did not have a story to tell.
The story comes the afternoon I am listening to Hilllsong, (I often say Yahweh inspires me) first as a probability, then it took shape, it became something that could actually be, became something I decided to be.
I complete it in four days and I send her a direct message.
I am ready. When is the meeting with the producer for the short?
She gives me a date and I am just as elated. I send Him a message, would he have time to look over my script before the meeting, I need a professional touch.
He says he will. He is in a car home, tired from post-production, I could send the story to his email, but he will get to me before the morrow.
I reply with a grateful emoji. I am grateful but I am not fulfilled yet.
Fulfillment comes when he says I have written great stuff, so great he could not believe it was my first script. It comes when I change my bio on Instagram and Facebook a few days later, when I slot in “Screenwriter” to my amazing list of abilities, I am an inch away from fulfillment.
As I write this, my short has its pre-production cover art, it is in the works, and I am currently researching material for my first full length-movie, the lines are falling in pleasant places.
I will find a producer to carry out the vision when I am done writing, one who believes in the story I have decided to tell as much as I do. How I know this, I am not sure, I am just a little certain, about some things, I am very certain.
Featured Image: One Small Window