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An interview with Lynn Elliott, writer of "And We Were Left Darkling"

The screenplay raises thought-provoking questions about the concept of a god of the twentieth century and whether we now live in a time when a new god is emerging. This existential exploration adds a layer of complexity to the story and invites the audience to reflect on the nature of humanity and the moral challenges faced by individuals in a changing world.

Filmtage : What sparked your interest in becoming an independent screenwriter, and how has your journey been navigating the world of screenwriting outside of traditional studio systems?

Lynn Elliott : I have never taken a writing course—never ever! My background is academic. Born in Wales, I emigrated to the United States for my MA and PhD and then taught at California State University, Chico, specializing in dramatic literature: Sophocles through Beckett. So, I became a creative writer by osmosis! In a moment of arrogancy I thought, I could write a stage play. I did, saw it produced and win a prize. And that was the beginning. I was soon asked to teach creative writing/play and screenwriting. I kept learning about the crafts, writing and enjoying transporting my work from the stage to the screen.

Filmtage : As an independent screenwriter, you have the freedom to explore unique and daring narratives. How do you approach the creative process to craft compelling stories that stand out in a saturated market?

Lynn Elliott : In the case of “We Were Left Darkling,” I was fascinated that both Eichmann and Wallenberg were in Budapest together in WW2. The two represented diametrically opposing attitudes: the God of love meets “the beast [slouching] towards Bethlehem to be born.” That was fiction. My question then was, How would the clash of these two titans affect mere mortals like Anna Sarbo?

Filmtage : Independent screenwriters often face challenges in getting their scripts noticed by producers and filmmakers. How do you go about networking and connecting with potential collaborators to bring your scripts to life?

Lynn Elliott : Yes, this is the real challenge. Forgive me saying but I have often receivedcriticism that confounds rather than clarifies. Example: one critics said of my script“Alta California,” that the real battle in my story was that between Padre Serra and Captain Felipe de Neve. No, like Eichmann and Wallenberg, that type of clash is written about by historians, not dramatists. When responding to the “Alta California” critic, I even referenced history books that dealt with the topic he/she thought was true conflict (historical). The conflict that interested me was, as in the case of “Darkling,” to discover how these great clashes to our ways of seeing affect “fictional” humans struggling to find their “home,” where they belong in this challenging world.

Filmtage : And We Were Left Darkling has been praised for its originality and depth of characters. Can you share some insights into the development process, and how you ensure your characters resonate with audiences?

Lynn Elliott : I think it extremely important that the writer “occupies” the life of a character. Another of my scripts, “Pirandello’s Wife,” explores the life of a woman married to a famous playwright. The last decades of her life were spent in a mental asylum. Why? I had to ask myself, what in her lived life experience had led to this? Was her reaction to the events in her everyday life understandable? (I suppose I should point out that I am male. My name, Lynn, is a very common male name in Wales.

Filmtage : Independent filmmaking often allows for more artistic expression, but it can also mean limited budgets. How do you strike a balance between creative vision and practicality when writing scripts for independent productions?

Lynn Elliott : Ah, the question we all have to face. My scripts have gained a lot of attention, nationally and internationally. But the next step, page to screen, is proving most difficult. Which promoter/producer do I approach? “Alta California” has so many laurels: over 60 national and international awards. But, as is pointed out to me, it is created on such an epic scale: the clash between European/Catholic and Indigenous values. It was violent, bloody, and hardly an example of humanity, even Catholic padres, at its best. Same with my other scripts. To quote one of my very unlikable characters: “Man hopin’ to figure out that big why. But he just scratchin’ away at the surface. He wanna know more why we got ourselves hate, he gotta rip away at the blood, bone, tissue, diggin’ deeper and deeper, layer after layer ‘til all he got is the bits done scattered on the ground. Then he gotta try put them pieces together ‘fore he dies.” (“My Town”). That, as crude as it is, is my task.

Here are couple of links to Lynn: works :

We wish him the best for all his creative works.

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