MARTA PARLATORE | WRITER-DIRECTOR | SCREENWRITING DOCENT
Born in Bologna with Polish-Italian roots, in 2003 Marta graduated from the Film Directing department of the Polish film school in Łódź, where she wrote and directed several shorts. After her studies she went on to deepen her craft as a screenwriter becoming an alumni of institutions such as the Résidence of the Cinéfondation (7th session), the Screenwriter’s and Director’s programmes of the Binger FilmLab, and the Torino Film Lab. In 2009-2012 she held screenwriting and film directing classes at the Polish film school of Łódź. She currently lives and works in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
What Diana says about Marta –
‘Marta is one of the sharpest tools in any screenwriter’s toolbox. She has been my mentor, friend and partner in crime since I was 18 years old. If I believed in the supernatural I would say going to her with a project is a bit like visiting a priestess or fortune teller. Only this one swears a lot and will make you laugh until you cry. She will take your script and your soul like they were piece of dishcloth and squeeze until the story comes out. It might sound less than convenient but it will be exactly the kind of masochism which we writers revel in.’
DIANA ASKS A FEW MORE QUESTIONS
- Do you think that you have to go to film school to become a screenwriter?
The short answer is NO. Like for any other art, I don’t think you have to get a formal education to be able to reach valuable artistic expression. Also, there are risks connected to attending a film school – ending up ‘imprinted’ with a certain mannerism being not a small one. On the other hand, screenwriting is quite a technical craft, so it might take a much bigger effort and longer time for anyone attempting to learn it on their own without the room for mistakes every film school ideally should provide. Filmmaking is not a solitary art, you cannot make movies in a vacuum or without the help of your friends, and the networking element which film schools offer is probably the most valuable thing you’ll get out of it.
- Why write arthouse when you’re unlikely to make any money from it?
It’s in the name – arthouse filmmaking is not so much about entertainment as it is about artistic expression, and the need for artistic expression is something that, famously, people don’t consciously choose for. You either have it in you – and then spend your life either trying to find a way to fulfil it, or doing all you possibly can to escape – or you don’t even think about it. If you were born with the filmmaking bug, the push to make movies is so strong as to neutralise the argument ‘but you won’t get rich if you do!’ If you don’t make movies, tell your stories, see the images haunting your thoughts on the silver screen ,your life will eventually become miserable. Having a not-completely-miserable existence is obviously reason enough to get into arthouse filmmaking.
- What advice would you give yourself as a young writer?
As a young girl, I was so in love with writing (and reading) that the idea of actually writing stories ‘for a living’ felt like a sort of dreamish fatamorgana – like being a princess, or a superhero. If I could talk to that girl, what I’d tell her is that writing stories IS a real job, a discipline, something you simply need to sweat on until you become a bit good at. I would encourage her to not idealise storytelling as something too good to ever really happen to her, but to put her head down, lock her focus, and train, train, train.
- Two films that changed you.
When I was about 15 years old I saw Gus Van Sant’s ‘My Own Private Idaho’, which was probably the first truly “grown-up” movie I ever saw. It blew my mind because, in one screening, I understood that watching a film was not necessarily only a way to entertain myself for a couple of hours – it could be a journey into the dark recesses of the human experience. It could be an introspective, unnerving trip through a world I did not suspect existed, and so I became hooked, very thoroughly, on cinema’s voyeuristic itch.
The second film would be Kieślowski’s ‘The Double Life Of Veronique’, which I saw when I was about 18. This one added a sense of magic, mystery, and the fascination for the Eastern European cinematic style. After seeing ‘Veronique’ I knew I wanted to study cinema, and I knew I wanted to go to Poland to do it.
- Do you have a mentoring method?
Yes and No. ‘No’ because I don’t believe in one-fits-all formulas and standardising approaches, so I don’t follow any screenwriting paradigm. ‘Yes’ because I always begin by focusing on the story at hand, the vision the author is trying to reach, and build my mentoring approach around it. Each script project is a bit like a baby trying to be born, and each baby is a very different beast. I try to first of all see the beast as best as I can, and then apply all the ‘beastology’ tricks up my sleeve to help it become as strong, healthy, and fierce as it possibly can.
- What kind of writers should NOT come to you?
Those who think I’m going to solve all their problems and write the script instead of them. Those who are into this business because they want to be famous. Those who want to make a movie but don’t want to dirty their hands in the process. Those who do it just to impress the girls. Those who think ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ is a good movie.
- Tell me about an item in your life which has helped your writing over a longer period of time?
Without the shadow of a doubt that would be my iPod (now defunct), who accompanied me for over a decade in my writing perils. Functioning without music is almost impossible for me, and my writing suffers enormously if I don’t recharge my emotional tank by being in constant touch with my favourite beats and baselines.
- A good story should always be _____________ ?
DANGEROUS. I firmly believe that if any piece of art (and a story, to me, belongs to that category) does not do anything to at least question the status quo, disrupt a preconceived idea, challenge an established way of thinking, then it’s most likely not that necessary for humanity.
Find all details about Marta’s professional background on her LinkedIn profile, or read juicy stories about her private life on her blog Baby Blues & Rock’N’Roll. Also – here is her author page. Wanna say hi? Drop her a line at email@example.com
Want to discover more? Check out Marta’s interview with Diana