An Interview With the Winner of the Inciting Incident Drama Round, Haziq Adam De Silva
The Inciting Incident is Sinema Media’s inaugural screenplay competition, held in partnership with casting agency Hello Group, acting school Method Acting Asia, publishing house Epigram Books and production company Catharsis Film.
Its third round challenged screenwriters to submit an original screenplay for a 3 – 5-minute short film based on the tried and true genre of drama. The competition received 38 entries in all from both professionals and students, with film student Haziq Adam De Silva emerging as the round’s decisive winner.
Currently pursuing a diploma in Digital Film and Television at Temasek Polytechnic, Haziq had previously won the Best Screenplay Award for the student category of the cINE65 Movie Makers Awards in 2019. He is also the first ever student winner of The Inciting Incident.
For the Inciting Incident, he presents Booking, an affecting story of two strangers just trying to make ends meet amidst the pandemic. The circumstances lead a taxi driver to form a risque partnership with a social escort, all in an effort to provide a better future for his daughter.
In this screenplay, Haziq tackles the heavy subject matter and nails the drama genre to a T. With the drama hinging on the strength of what is left unsaid, it is no surprise that Haziq took home first place. Described as attention catching, compelling and evocative Booking was the unanimous favourite of the jury.
The winning screenplay, along with the top three screenplays of each of the screenplay challenge’s rounds, will be published in the collection by Epigram Books at the end of the competition.
With Booking’s rave reviews and captivating writing, we sat down with Haziq to find out more about him and his process in creating Booking.
Tell us about yourself
The main thing about me is that I’m a film lover. This extends beyond just scriptwriting and directing but as a whole, including the technical aspects. To me, I really enjoy films and I see it as my future. I am fortunate that my parents are supportive of my passion.
While some people think that a career in film is unsustainable, I don’t think it’s the point. To me, it’s about expression and representation of the everyday and the overlooked. Winning the cINE65 award made me feel reassured about this passion as it was the first screenplay I wrote.
What got you interested in screenwriting?
I think the interest started in secondary school. It may sound strange but it was actually English comprehension that sparked this interest. It was the idea of writing stories that interested me, especially stories of others. Reading these stories made me want to try my hand at retelling them and making my own versions of them.
I think this ties in with the idea of having to work the ground, interviewing people and listening to their stories. Things like this were very interesting to me and screenwriting allowed me to retell these stories as I had heard them.
In your opinion, what makes a good drama screenplay?
To me, specifically in writing, I think good drama doesn’t require a lot of words. Personally, I like to minimize my dialogue because I feel that dialogue is not required to push stories forward. I feel that drama is about emotions and action/reaction. I think throughout stories in the genre of drama, it’s about how people react to specific events in their lives.
What was your inspiration for Booking?
I really wanted to focus on the lives of the two characters in the story. Mainly, I was inspired by their occupations as I feel that they are very overlooked in Singapore.
I was intrigued by the idea of exploring the ‘underbelly’ of Singapore. I wanted to explore the idea of prostitution in such dangerous times as COVID-19 because, personally, the idea is very scary to me. I really wanted to delve into the idea of doing something potentially life-threatening for money where, if survival is the point, it seems almost contradictory.
From a directorial standpoint, I wanted to create something that hinges on emotions rather than dialogue. My directorial vision heavily influences how I write screenplays and what I would like to film and put on screen.
What was your process in creating a screenplay like Booking?
For research, I went to interview sex workers in Geylang. While communicating with them, I got to see some of the on-goings in the area. I could see how their work still goes on despite COVID-19. This helped me realise that these sex-workers have their own reasons to do this job and that they may have dependents or are trying to survive in such a hard time.
Now that you have won two award-winning screenplays in the books, what are your future plans?
Personally, I wouldn’t jump straight into directing or that line of work. I would like to continue learning until I get the confidence to direct – be it a feature film or an advert. I aim to continue working in the industry, continuing to grow and improve my skills. Eventually, I hope to carry all the things that I have learnt to make sure all my future works reflect my experiences as I learn in film.
If you’ve read what Haziq has to say and are inspired to try your hand at writing your own award-winning screenplay, why not participate in this round of The Inciting Incident?
The fourth and final round of The Inciting Incident: Sinema Screenplay Challenge 2020 is now open for submissions. To suit the mood of October, the genre is ‘HORROR’. So ready your ideas, stretch those typing fingers and throw your hat in the ring because you never know what may happen!
Submissions close on 6 November 2020, 11:59PM (GMT+8). For full details and submission of entries, visit the competition’s official webpage.
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