A Syrian refugee (Lara Sawalha) can only stay in Britain if she becomes a surrogate mother for a desperate couple (Rebecca Callard and Nabil Elouahabi), but their illicit pact has dark consequences
Promise written by Hannah Lee.
Actor / Writer
I'd been a professional actor for 7 years and had started to do some freelance writing – but I hadn't written a screenplay before.
It wouldn't have happened without them! They put together the cast and crew, helped to finance the project and gave me a lot of support and guidance along the way.
The final script was completed over a year after pitching at Pinewood, so it went through an awful lot of development. I think there were 6 major drafts but lots of other rewrites and edits along the way.
You need to capture the essence of your film in the title. We moved away from 'Hagar' when we realised that it was just as much Sarah's story. 'Promise' worked thematically and it's still short and punchy so it's easy to remember.
It played at Vancouver International Film Festival and Foyle Film Festival. I saw it at the latter, which was a great experience: I met other filmmakers from around the world and was thrilled to see Promise screen alongside some really strong shorts (including this year's Oscar winner).
Yes, people are often interested to know how that worked. I had some starter funding from The Pitch for coming Runner Up and the producers worked hard to find the rest!
I was writing rather than producing, so I didn't have responsibilities beyond getting the script right. However, I did try to watch as much of the filming as possible (and be an extra pair of hands on set), but that was challenging with a 9 show week!
Yes, I'd really like to direct at some point. I'm working on honing my writing skills first and then I hope to direct one of my scripts.
The Pitch has been a fantastic learning curve. The support and guidance I've had along the way has given me the confidence and experience to kick start my screenwriting. As a result of The Pitch, I've been mentored by David Baboulene and Lucy Scher who have transformed the way I look at film and storytelling. I'm using their advice every time I sit down to write.
Find a story to tell with characters that really interest you. They're the heart of the film and you'll be living with them for a long time over the course of the competition (and hopefully beyond). You have to be just as excited about telling their story at the finals in January as you were when you picked them months beforehand.
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