Interview with the First Page screenplay co-winner Ophelia Harutyunyan
The co-winner of our First Page screenwriting challenge Ophelia Harutyunyan talks of her transfixing first page and gives a clue to the rest
December 24, 2019 | by Creative Armenia
CA: Give us more insight into your opener. How was the idea conceived?
OH: I love challenges like this, when you’re put in a sort of a constraint to come up with a short but powerful solution, but to be honest, when I saw the poster of Creative Armenia it immediately reminded me of a script I had written a while back. The young man’s flight over the city cables and Yerevan buildings literally and emotionally connected to my character. This time, when I revisited it, I was interested in a character introduction that can immediately tell us, “Don’t be so sure to make up your mind about this guy, he might surprise you.” I like playing around with setting up the audiences for one thing, then revealing a different picture.
CA: Your first page of the screenplay for Creative Armenia made us want to turn the page. What would we find on the next page? Do you have a clear story mapped out in your mind?
OH: I do have the first draft of the story and if you were to turn the page you would read the story of a young man who has to make a series of difficult choices, who gets in with the wrong crowd and who has to find a way out. One of the reasons I chose this character introduction is because I wanted to show my character’s physical capabilities, which will return later in the film. The story is full of drama, adventure, history, action, and lots of suspense.
CA: You are a filmmaker, writer, and producer. Tell us more about your creative background and current projects.
OH: I have a combined fiction and documentary film background. After graduating from Columbia University’s Film MFA program I’ve worked on a number of short and feature films, both fiction and documentary. My thesis film from Columbia, which I wrote and produced, premiered at Toronto International Film Festival, then went on to play at a number of other festivals. I associate produced two documentary features directed by Alex Gibney which played at Sundance, SXSW, Venice Film Festival, IDFA, AFI, etc. I am currently in post-production for a documentary feature film directed by Alex Gibney. The film will air on HBO sometime in 2020. I am also in post-production for a short documentary film I shot and directed in Armenia about menless villages. I am in pre-production for a feature fiction film I am producing in Armenia and in development on a handful of other projects, all more or less connected to Armenia.
CA: You mentioned that action can present the character better than dialogue. Tell us, what’s the next action you’ll take with the screenplay? Do you mean to complete it?
OH: This challenge inspired me to revisit my script and give it another shot. I’m very excited to do another draft and tell this story with newfound excitement and new ideas.
To read Ophelia's opener and learn more about the challenge, please visit creativearmenia.org/firstpage.