This month SQ talks to Sophie Overett, who is currently being supported by SQ to complete a Writers Attachment on the FremantleMedia Australia production, the Paul Hogan project.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on two feature-length screenplays. The first is an adult, science fiction movie which I like to pitch as Ex Machina meets The Truman Show. It was inspired by the nuclear weapons testing the UK did in remote parts of Australia during World War II and explores what, exactly, is stopping anyone from doing similar experiments today.
The other screenplay I’m working on is a family film about a ghosthunting family struggling to lay their own spirits to rest when the mother and matriarch suddenly and unexpectedly passes away.
I’m also, thanks to Screen Queensland, working as a writer’s attachment with Fremantle Media Australia on a new miniseries they’re developing with Channel 7. It’s been an immensely rewarding experience already and I am learning a lot about the intricacies of industry, the nature of production, writing with other writers and writing commissioned screen work.
Who are you working with? And why?
Apart from the attachment job at Fremantle Media Australia, currently I’m working mostly on my own and with my writers group. Having a writers group is a wonderful thing, and helps me to improve my writing, through both giving and receiving feedback. Both of the screenplays I mentioned above are getting pretty close to being ready to pitch to production companies, so I’m looking forward to taking that next step too!
How did you get to this point in your career?
I was lucky enough to get a job right out of university working at Queensland Writers Centre. Working there, and joining as a member, gave me a really strong foundational understanding of the way creative industries work in Queensland and Australia. I regularly participated in events and workshops with them to hone my creative and professional skills, and have had multiple short fiction works published. In 2015, I was also a Queensland Literary Fellow and my Young Adult novel, Agatha Abel Meets Her Maker, was shortlisted for The Text Prize. This year my novella, They Made Us Out of Buried Things, will be coming out with Tiny Owl Workshop.
I’ve always loved films and television, and watch (and read screenplays) very widely. The transition to writing them was a logical step and one that I’ve loved exploring. I tend to believe the old adage that your first script is you learning how to write a script so my first is collecting dust in a bottom drawer somewhere. Having it under my belt though has made writing these new ones seem easier to write (and finish), and has let me flex my storytelling skills.
What’s been tough? What’s helped you on your way?
The toughest steps have been managing expectations, understanding timelines and handling rejection. When I first started out, I bruised easy with pretty much all these things. But I knew that writing was something I wanted to do, and I was passionate about stories, so I kept writing and I attended workshops to get better, and read more and watched more (I’m a strong believer you learn best through reading books and screenplays and watching more films and TV shows!) and as I did this, I improved, and as I kept submitting, I had more wins and more publication outcomes. I still get a lot of rejections, but rejection is a part of being a writer, and once you know that, the bruises don’t stick around for long.
Pitching my screenplays is the big next step! I’m also working on the edits for my novella which is being released this year and tidying up a few more short stories. I’m also very much looking forward to the Gold Coast Film Festival and attending some of the workshops there.