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The Ventriloquist's Assistant: An Interview with Writer Zeff Lawless



Tell us about yourself. How did you become an artist?

“I did an acting course when I retired. That opened up a completely different life to me.

I decided the best way to get a showreel was to do it myself.

So, I started writing. One minute, three minutes, then fifteen minute scripts, I found it naturally.

To date my short films have gained 42 Award Wins and 60 further Accolades in International Film Festivals.”


What was your first job in the art field?

“I ran a Graphic Design Studio, in Dublin for 38 years.”


What makes you want to tell stories? In other words, what are the themes/issues you want to incorporate into your work?

“The Irish have a great history of writers and storytellers. I love the intrigue and unfolding of a story, laying things out and hiding things in plain sight. I also like to try to represent older people in my scripts as I feel they are underrepresented nowadays. They still can have a great deal to say.”


Please tell us about your vision and your method of approaching a new project?

“I write all genres and I go where the muse takes me. I germinate, percolate, write, re-write, re-write and re-write! You can lose a lot of sleep this way!”



Who are your filmmaking influencers? What are the films that were influential for you?

“Anything by Luc Besson, but particularly “Wasabi” (with some great Japanese scenes). Guy Ritchie for the way he edits his films.

My favorite TV series lately was “Navillera”, the Korean show directed by Han Dong-hwa. I love the concept and embrace of the older persons narrative.

I like a simple idea that has universal connections like “The Bucket List”.”


How do you think the industry is changing? How has COVID affected independent filmmaking/creation?

“It has made filmmakers more self-reliant in getting projects completed”

What advice would you give to aspiring artists? What are some of the things they must follow/avoid?

“Ignore rejection. If you start a project, finish it. If you fail, learn, then you haven’t failed, you have learned something. Be open.”


Do you think films/stories can bring about a change in the world?

“No, Greta Thunberg will do that. We are storytellers, here to entertain people and, hopefully, give them different insights to new ideas and possibilities.”


What do you think people like to watch these days? Has the pandemic changed people's taste?

“People want more content…and so, the short film category is getting more and more attention (a lot like in the past, the way it was “The Movie” that was the big cheese, now it is TV that’s the big cheese. Maybe short films are the cheese board.”



Please tell us about your upcoming projects.

“Over the last nine months I have finished 7 scripts

My latest script (22 pages) “Pétanque has never been so much fun!” has just started the film festival circuit, so we will see where that leads, but it is exciting!…

The short (30 page) Dark Comedy/Horror/LBGTQ+/Musical script “Hallelujah” has won 15 Best Short Script Awards and ten other Accolades at International Film Festivals.

The short (10 page) Drama screenplay "The Old Man, the Sea & the Dog" won 4 Best Screenplay Awards as well as eight other Accolades in International Film Festivals.

The short (19 page) Thriller screenplay "Safe House" won 6 Best Short Script Awards as well as four further Accolades in International Film Festivals.

The short (10 page) Comedy script “The Ventriloquist’s Assistant” has won 7 Best Short Script Awards and one other Accolade at International Film Festivals.

The short (10 page) Dark Comedy script “The Wooden Leg” has won 6 Best Short Script Awards and one other Accolade at International Film Festivals.

The short (31 page) Horror script “The Curse of Leap Castle”, a screenplay from a story by Derek Carroll, won 7 Best Short Script Awards and four further Accolades at International Film Festivals.

My aim is to have my feature script “Kerry Cowboys” produced – a story like no other, full of everything.

Logline:

"Two unlikely buddies are looking for a brand new start – they didn’t expect crafty locals, a corrupt Politician, Leprechauns and Aliens”.”


“Thanks for the chat, my dear friends at the Tokyo International Short Film Festival!

Zeff Lawless - Screenwriter "Kerry Cowboys" and "The Ventriloquist's Assistant”

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