First-time writer wins script competition, challenging gender roles and domestic abuse with 'MAN'
Set in contemporary Ireland, 'MAN', follows a woman struggling to make ends meet, who has flashbacks to a recent episode of domestic abuse.
Filled with hard-hitting dialogue, Cathriona Slammon's first short script cleverly subverts your expectations, and intelligently challenges traditional gender roles, leaving you with a lot to think about, in less than 12 pages.
'MAN' won our monthly international script competition in July, and has also been acknowledged by WeScreenplay Short Contest and Rome Independent Prisma Awards.
We were very excited to speak with Cathriona, to find out about her journey into screenwriting, and the inspiration behind her award winning short script, 'MAN'.
How did you get into screenwriting?
It has long been an aspiration of mine to be a fiction writer, however I only developed an interest in screenwriting very recently.
I spent a summer in New York where I went to the cinema on a daily basis, and it suddenly occurred to me that someone wrote those films, that screenwriting was an actual job. I’m not sure why, as I have always loved films, but I never thought about screenwriting as a profession before!
When I did start to think about it, I knew I had to try it.
Was there a particularly cinema in NYC you'd recommend?
There were a few cinemas in particular which were great - the cinema at Lincoln center, and also the Landmark at 57 West, had screenings of more independent films followed by Q&A's after screenings with the director, crew etc.
I had something called a MoviePass card which allowed me to see a film a day for just $10 a month.
I also went a lot to the AMC near Lincoln centre. Hereditary came out while I was there - a film I am obsessed with - and the actress who played Charlie was sitting behind me during the screening.
Only in New York do these things happen! Your winning script, MAN, explores a sensitive subject. Did anything in particular inspire the story?
I think I was inspired by the expectations of traditional gender roles and how insidious these can be.
In abusive relationships, it’s not always the man who is the abuser and I don’t feel that this gets enough attention or is very well understood. As this was your first script, what preparation/research did you do, to get the format, pacing, etc. right?
The first thing I did was to purchase screenwriting software (Final Draft).
It was an expense I couldn’t really afford, but I knew that it would take a long time to learn the format myself so I thought it was worth the investment.
I also read a few screenplays of both films I have seen, and not seen, in order to get a feel for how a story is told purely through visuals, sound and dialogue.
What screenplays did you read?
Some screenplays I read were 'Hereditary', 'First Reformed' and 'Leave No Trace'.
I didn't use a particular website, I just thought about films I liked and searched for the screenplays. Do you plan to make MAN yourself?
I don’t have any immediate plans.
The subject of MAN is extremely sensitive and dark and so I would like to have some experience under my belt before I attempted it as I have never made a short before!
However if I was lucky enough to get to make it in the future, I think the key would be getting the right actors to play the two lead roles as they are quite intense.
What are you writing next?
Since MAN, I have written several short scripts varying from horror and comedy to more drama which have placed in a few screenwriting contests.
I also hope to develop a feature screenplay - a psychological suspense/horror set in Ireland.