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Hollywood film professionals to conduct screenwriting workshops

By Muath Freij - Apr 30,2018 - Last updated at Apr 30,2018

AMMAN —  Movies do not only inspire us, they also help us figure things out, said HRH Princess Rym, member of the Royal Film Commission (RFC) board of commissioners on Sunday.

During a ceremony held at the RFC premises to announce the launch of the Screen Buzz workshop, HRH said that the film industry exists in Jordan thanks to the widespread willingness existing at so many levels.

“When my husband HRH Prince Ali created the film commission almost 15 years ago, he pursued the idea of the youth being able to tell their stories freely. But it also came as an answer to a need. Like everywhere in the world, our media landscape was changing fast and we had a bit of catching up to do in the field of audio-visual storytelling,” she recalled. 

The ceremony saw the launch of Screen Buzz's professional workshop series, powered by America Abroad Media (AAM), bringing together top Hollywood writers, directors and producers to the region to support local storytellers in the creation of original, purpose driven content for global audiences, according to an RFC statement e-mailed to The Jordan Times. 

Nine Arab TV projects were selected to participate in Amman's first edition of the workshops, involving between 10 and 12 people, said founder and president of AAM Aaron Lobel.

“We have to keep the workshops relatively small to be able to work with each other individually. But hopefully we will do a few of them this year,” he told The Jordan Times. 

“We all have a need to express ourselves somehow. We all have a need to relate to one another, and understand our problems and our joys, sometimes by seeing them projected somewhere. In Jordan, there are ancient cave paintings — a very primitive but clear form of storytelling, as our Arab ancestors were famous for their storytelling skills and poetry. Now, of course, there is film,” Princess Rym said, noting that "films that matter usually tackle questions of concern to us such as 'how do we cope with life’s many challenges?' and 'what are the values we hold so dear we would fight for them?'"

She stressed that seeing a film even on a tiny phone screen is "better than not seeing a film at all". 

“But I am proud to say that the RFC still believes in the impact of public screenings where you can sit next to a friend, a relative or even a complete stranger and absorb a story, react to it and maybe interpret it completely differently,” she added. 

 HRH described the launch of the regional workshops as “exciting”. “We are thrilled as Screen Buzz offers a new perspective and expertise,” she said, commending "the Hollywood talents who have kindly agreed to travel all this way to lead us in this competitive world".

The programme is also reaching out to government schools and children in various governorates via a number of screening and training programmes. 

“I hope that one day we will be able to include films as part of the school curriculum. Hopefully we will see many storytellers emerge from these efforts, so that young people can use their talents and not remain passive viewers but instead become active content generators as well,” she continued. 

Lobel highlighted Jordan's importance in the region and globally amidst the regional trauma. 

Workshop participants will have the opportunity to develop their projects through direct interaction with three Hollywood experts: executive producer Lindsay Goffman (The Good Doctor), writer and producer Mark Goffman (Bull, The West Wing), and writer and producer Daniel Knauf (Supernatural, Spartacus: Blood and Sand). 

Participants will also practice pitching their projects to the Hollywood mentors during one-on-one meetings. 

Screen Buzz workshops are held under the supervision of AAM’s Middle East advisory council, which includes prominent Arab figures in the industry such as UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development Noura Al Kaabi, Princess Rym, who is also the founder of the Jordan Media Institute, and actress and director Nadine Labaki, among others.

A member of the advisory council, Jordanian actress and producer Saba Mubarak stressed the need to focus more on quality content. 

“We are very lucky to have so many unique stories unfolded by very talented script writers who are constantly looking forward to having their projects exposed  to international audience, which is why Screen Buzz decided to be entirely dedicated to script writers this year,” she said.  

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