A special invitation from the Russian film industry recently saw Derry scriptwriter and author Pat Nash travel to Moscow to tutor writers within the Kultburo Film Lab.
The local writer’s expertise was called upon to help propel script development on the Kultburo Film Lab short film training programme, which is backed by the Russian Ministry of Culture.
The work came about via acquaintances at an International Screenplay Consultancy in Madrid, whom Pat had previously met at the London Screenwriters Festival.
Pat, author of ‘Short Films: Writing the Screenplay’, was one of five international tutors invited to work with thirty up-and-coming talented young Russian writers. The group were drafted in to help writers develop screenplays, and also held lectures, short film presentations and helping them to present projects to Russian directors and film industry reps.
“It was a fantastic experience and adventure and we were treated so well,” Pat told the ‘Journal’.
“The people were lovely and so friendly. We each had our own personal translator, mine was a girl called Alina. The Russians paid for and organised everything - hotel, flights, airport transfers, food, interpreters and Visas, as well as paying us well for the work we did.”
With Russian movie-goers leaning towards Hollywood blockbusters and European movies, Pat explains that programme organisers are keen to introduce ‘western’ or international methods of writing, storytelling and filmmaking into their current industry to improve home-grown titles and make Russian cinema more appealing.
The thirty talented writers involved in the programme were selected from over 500 applicants, with the overall aim being to breathe new life into the Russian film industry, making it more dynamic and internationally recognised.
It’s been an eventful few years for Pat Nash. Last Autumn, he won a screenplay award at the Colorado Film Awards, an international competition run annually by the prestigious Colorado Film Festival. Prior to that, he also won a Lion Award at a red carpet event in London’s Roundhouse in March 2012, winning a Medal of Excellence from the City & Guilds for his filmmaking diploma with the Nerve Centre.
The Russian excursion was the latest in a long line of accolades for Pat - but it wasn’t all work. The visiting tutors also squeezed in a bit of sightseeing, as Pat recalls: “We also had tour of Moscow, Red Square, St Basil’s, Kremlin, and other parts of central Moscow. Our hotel, the Sovietsky, was a Stalin era hotel which was quite glamorous inside and had this incredible atmosphere - grand restaurants, staircases, architecture as well as huge portraits of likes of Stalin, Khrushchev, Brehznev adorning the walls. We were accompanied at breakfast by a girl playing a harp some days and a guy playing classical music on a grand piano on other days!!! Never mind evening meals. It was an amazing place.”
As the trip came to an end, Pat’s group wanted to mark the occasion and bought him a big photo book of Russian films and film stars, signing it poignantly ‘From Russia With Love’ above all their signatures.
It was certainly the experience of a lifetime for Pat - a longstanding member of Derry Writers Group.
“It was so strange,” Pat reflects.
“On the same night as our tour of Moscow, we were all together in an expensive Armenian restaurant in the centre of Moscow eating this great food and drinking. I looked around me and there were representatives of the Russian film industry as well as consultants and film people from France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Britain and of course myself from Ireland.
“I couldn’t help but think that if somebody had told me five or six weeks earlier that I was going to be sitting in Moscow doing that, I’d have said they were mad. You just never know what’s going to come up next or where you’ll end up. It makes for an exciting and interesting life!”