Screenwriting seminar docks at Lake Geneva

PARIS — Scribes grappled with plot points while watching the sun set over Lake Geneva at the 29th Equinox screenwriting workshop, June 3-10.

The twice-yearly event took place for the first time in Evian, home to the famous water.

This year’s Equinox had French helmer-scribe Danielle Thompson leading a team of advisers that included “Spider-Man” producer Laura Ziskin, David and Julia Peoples, Susan Landau, Mary Sweeney, French helmer-scribes Laurent Tirard and Frederic Fonteyne, and French actress Anne Parillaud.

In the workshop’s 15 years existence, some 40% of the scripts that have taken part have been turned into films –90 projects total.

They include Jacques Audiard’s “Read My Lips,” Rachid Bouchareb’s “Little Senegal” and, more recently, Rodrigo Moreno’s “El Custodio.”

“There are other workshops, but Equinox is unique because of the individual, one-on-one attention scriptwriters get,” said Noelle Deschamps, the org’s founder and president.

Equinox’s selectors in 11 locations around the world favor second- or third-draft scripts that have the potential to become quality films with universal appeal.

“We don’t want scripts that are perfect; we are interested in scripts that are perfectable,” said the org’s head of selection, Yoann de Birague d’Apremont.

The latest crop, selected from 250 candidates, are predominantly European with scripts from Belgium, Spain, Greece and France.

“In the U.S., 12% of a film’s budget is spent on development; in Europe it’s 2%. That explains the need for this kind of aid to European projects,” says de Birague d’Apremont.

After the workshop is over, Equinox’s participants have six weeks to tweak their scripts before resubmitting them for a final appraisal. Then, the org often points scriptwriters in the direction of partners who might be interested in boarding their project.

Held for the first 10 years in the Chateau Beychevelle, in the Medoc region of France, the workshop went through turbulent times when its major backer, Canal Plus, stopped supporting it five years ago.

Since then, workshops have taken place in Morocco, Canada, Austria and Germany.

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