We sat down with our Screenwriting for Beginners tutor Matthew Allen and asked him a few questions.
First, could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Yeah, I’m a produced, represented writer living in Tokyo. I’m from Australia, but have also worked in the States.
How did you end up in Japan? How long have you been here?
I’ve been in Japan on and off for about 14 years. I originally came as I was obsessed with Japanese history (and films about the same), but have since got married and had children. So, Japan is home for me now—and I mostly write about America.
How did you get into screenwriting?
I have always loved movies. I think one big influence was my father, who was a television producer. I eventually focused on screenwriting as I realized I had no talent as a director, but was often praised for my writing. Also, screenwriting is the kind of thing you can do from anywhere—and that worked for me once I had fallen in love and settled here.
What specific challenges do you find yourself facing, in terms of working as a screenwriter so far from anglophone film industries?
The biggest problem is the lack of opportunities to network. Also, I’ve missed out on some jobs I’ve pitched for due to them wanting someone they could work with in person. As my wife used to be a flight attendant, I’m able to go to LA for next to nothing. But it still is hard. Still, I prefer to leave the networking to my manager and just focus on the craft.
How has your time in Japan influenced your writing?
As a writer, I’ve had to have day jobs in the past. And, the poor conditions in those has led me to become a unionist. As a result, I’ve learned a lot about politics. And so now my manager is able to market me as “the political writer”.
What do you love most about writing for the screen?
There’s nothing more relaxing for me than watching a movie. I love the escapism. And so, while writing, I get to experience that same escapism in my head.
Why should people take your class?
I am extremely attentive to other people’s needs and ideas, and so—as a teacher—provide a tailored class unrivalled in my experience. Also, having had to work as an English teacher to support my craft, I’m extremely good at communicating to non-native speakers of English.
Screenwriting for Beginners
Learn the essentials of screenwriting over five Tuesday evenings in Tokyo
What will this class teach you?
This class is designed for the absolute novice, one who has never written a complete feature script. While university-level film school classes will take you through baby steps as you learn to construct a scene and character, etc., this class aims to compress all that is taught through several years of film school into five easy nights. By the end of the class, you will be more than ready to start writing a full-length (90-to-120-page) feature script. Future classes will go beyond the basics contained within this one to look at such things as TV pilots, ensemble films, and character pieces. While many great films break the rules, this class will teach you the basics you must know before you decide to ignore and/or improve on them.
Find out more about Screenwriting for Beginners