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Ventana Sur: Argentine Directors on Benefit of Writers’ Room (EXCLUSIVE)

BUENOS AIRES — Ventana Sur hosted two of the country’s leading screenwriters to relay the benefits of utilizing a writers’ room while conceptualizing fiction projects, delivered to a packed auditorium on Tuesday afternoon as part of the Fiction Factory series held at the UCA Campus in Puerto Madero.

Director Daniel Burman, known for films such as “Lost Embrace” and series “Victoria Small,” for VIS and Mediapro, sat alongside Sebastián Borensztein, director of “Chinese Take-Away,” starring Ricardo Darin. Both used their immense scriptwriting experience to illustrate the concept of writers’ rooms before fielding a battery of questions from an enthusiastic audience.

“There’s been a change, a double change in the habits of consumers. We can choose when we want to watch something. With a click we have it in our hands. This raises the bar when developing new projects and leads to a higher level of professionalism,” Borensztein said.

The two, working on a project together for a well-known platform, went on to discuss the importance of acknowledging different points of view while perfecting a script, noting that large Hollywood productions have been using this practice to their advantage for some time.

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“The project is very ambitious, and we’ve formed a writers’ room with Sebastian, added other writers. Basically, for me, it’s an extraordinary learning experience. I spent many years making films and being intoxicated with my own, unique, gaze. This exercise reduced it. I arrive early in the morning and, to hear the view of someone else, it’s crap. To hear from another person, with an honest opinion, it’s like a game. It’s not that it’s better or worse. It’s a huge transition,” said Burman.

Borensztein agreed, “Integrating one’s point of view with the view of someone else is a question of ego, freely sharing your opinions comes down to having trust in the team you’ve assembled. We have to be very selective.”

He went on to state, “I think, in this sense, it’s fundamental to form a writing room. This exercise really connects you with the creativity and point of view of others, and the product is better, and that’s what we want.”

While speaking to the difference between a calculated writer’s room and other forms of script revision, Burman noted, “A writers’ room, it’s like a job, it’s a responsibility. To meet at a certain time, at a certain place where you share your point of view with other people. Sure, it’s more comfortable to sit in your slippers with bread and a latte, and work at whatever hour you’d like, but…”

The panel explained the intricacies and balance of using the method.

“The question is, how do we generate an ambiance of discussion? Where your opinion about an idea brings out the truth? There is something to be said for quality and functionality, where everyone wins. It’s not whether it’s a good idea or a bad idea in the end,” said Borensztein.

Burman then discussed the myriad of viewpoints within the writers’ room, integral to the success of a script, “It also permits us to enter a more sane and balanced gender perspective. It’s much more interesting to hear this sort of viewpoint in person during this process; it’s an opportunity to learn, to understand.”

The panel ended succinctly after covering more than enough ground, converting anyone who questioned the practice into a new proponent of the writers’ room, a useful assist to the ever-evolving approach that is script development.

As Burman concluded, “In the writers’ room, you can recreate the story for a mini-audience; this is genius. We are the public; we are the spectator at that moment. To play with different perspectives, points of view that are completely different, genius.”

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