Updating the Romance Genre for the Modern Age – An Interview with The Inciting Incident Romance Round Winner, Lee Eun Ho
The second round of The Inciting Incident (TII) competition ran from April to June 2020, with the theme of romance. Regardless of whether we’d like to admit it, we’re all suckers for romance, even if just a bit. But tropes in the genre can be a little hackneyed – either being too unrealistically cheesy or overplayed. Lee Eun Ho’s winning screenplay, MoJo, is thus a refreshing, playful take on the idea of romance.
MoJo isn’t your usual romance piece. There’s no dreamy, charming rendezvous between our protagonists. Instead, we meet the couple under a peculiar circumstance, involving an eye-catching G-string and talks of ‘testicular torture’.
Now you may be wondering, how is this a romance screenplay? This is bizarre and unconventional to say the least. Without giving too much away, MoJo concludes with a revelation that may not be so unfamiliar to couples. Lee Eun Ho resists the idyllic portrayal of romantic relationships, opting for a more realistic one which can sometimes get awkward and comical.
Having also won the TII Lightning round, Eun Ho is certainly someone to look out for. We got an opportunity to chat with him, as he shares his inspiration behind MoJo, and his future plans.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m an aspiring writer whose love affair with story was sparked by The Island of Adventure, by Enid Blyton. When I was ten years old, I was a rambunctious little boy who could not sit still and was always darting around the flat. My mother finally had enough and thrust a book in my hands and told me to sit down and read. So I did, with much reluctance.
I didn’t get up from my seat until eight hours later. I’ve never forgotten my amazement at how words on paper could weave a spell on my young mind. I must have read that book to shreds.
Thank goodness, Enid Blyton wrote many other books and it was not long before I was devouring all her other series. The Find Outers, The Valley of Adventure, and when I was through with her, I discovered other authors. The magic of Story has never left me since. I’m a big fan of Oscar Wilde, and Neil Simon, and I grew up learning writing of dialogue from [television sitcoms] Cheers, M*A*S*H, and Taxi.
At the moment, I am working in the field of education, and occasionally I make forays into the writing for television and the big screen.
How did MoJo come about?
I was harking back to my love for Wilde and Simon, especially Wilde. I wanted to write a piece where nearly every line of dialogue was a finely honed blade of wit. Much like The Importance of Being Earnest.
I was also conscious that I was writing a short film so I figured i would start off with a striking visual introduction of a character and you can’t get any more visual than a man in a yellow G-string.
So the whole exercise began with asking questions like who is this man, and why is he wearing a G-string and how did he end up in that room? The answers to those questions ended up being fleshed out into a story. After that it was a matter of going back to the script and ensuring that every line of dialogue sparkled – that was the fun part!
What made you decide to participate in TII?
I think Sinema sent out an email to the schools. That’s how I chanced upon it. I thought it was a nice gesture to support the writers. Writers generally do not get as much limelight as the directors. Maybe it is just my perception.
I also thought it would be a wonderful exercise to practice short film writing. That was why I took part.
Another HUGE factor why I wanted to take part was the chance of getting published by Epigram as it has been one of my dreams. I love the cover designs of Epigram books. And I like how the Epigram brand denotes high quality writing.
How did you feel winning the challenge?
I was pleasantly surprised, of course. I did not expect the script to win. I did win the Lightning Round so that was also encouraging. I was on the list for the first Inciting Incident challenge. I guess that was sufficient motivation to try out for the next one, which was Romance.
Any plans moving forward with MoJo? Any thoughts of producing in the works?
Definitely. But first, I would need to find a producer, who will then assist me in finding a director, and some investor keen enough to put up some money.
If you missed out on this round of The Inciting Incident, stay tuned to our Facebook page and the contest page for more information on the following rounds! Submissions are judged by a panel of industry professionals, who will narrow the selections down to 10 finalists, and ultimately 3 winners.
Be sure to check out the published collection of screenplays, including Mojo, at the end of the competition!