Diane Thomassin

Thank you Diane for taking the time to answer all of our questions. We are grateful for everything you have shared with us. At Oxford Script Awards we are wishing you a huge success with your next projects. Keep up the amazing work!

Hello Diane, can you tell us about your background and how you got started in screenwriting?

I sashayed into screenwriting without a formal background, although I did take some film classes in college. I’ve studied the history of film going back to the silent era. My love for film, especially the classics, has been a lifelong affair. I’ve been writing as a creative outlet since I was a child, and in 2015, I finally wrote my first screenplay. I had a few projects in the works, but I put them on hold, which I later realized was a mistake. Consistency is key in writing. It’s better for writers to keep that momentum going. I picked it up again in 2023, and the positive responses have kept me motivated. I’ve been writing diligently for over a year now.

What's your writing process like? How do you go about creating characters and developing a story?

My writing process revolves around creating well-rounded characters. Inspired by Joseph Campbell, I create the archetype and start with their journey. I write detailed biographies for each one, capturing their entire life story to understand what drives them. This way, they naturally embody the story and the message I want to share.

Can you talk about a recent project you've worked on and the challenges you faced while writing it?

Recently, I’ve been working on a historical drama, but finding the right consultants for authenticity has been a challenge. It requires a lot of research to ensure the story feels real. I want my work to be authentic, so if I want to write something based on a historical, philosophical or psychological concept, I will need help from someone with expertise in that area. Right now, for the dramatic historical piece, it will take my many hours to research that time period, which is a challenge.

What do you think is the most important element of a great screenplay?

Connecting emotionally with the viewers with themes that resonate with everyone, strong, endearing characters and an interesting and original plot.

How do you feel about the current state of the film industry and the role of screenwriters in it?

There needs to be more diversity in the film industry. Through art, we shape perspectives and influence culture. All of us, especially underrepresented groups, deserve to be validated by seeing their identities and experiences on the big screen. Learning about underrepresented groups and walking in their shoes can challenge stereotypes, knock down cultural barriers and foster empathy and understanding.

How do you approach writing for different genres and audiences?

That’s easy for me. When writing for different genres and audiences, I focus on universal themes that resonate with everyone.

How do you handle feedback and criticism?

Feedback and criticism are part of the creative process. I value constructive feedback as it helps me grow. If criticism is meant to be helpful, I welcome it; if it’s harmful, I ignore it. It’s important to learn from feedback and use it to improve.

Can you talk about any upcoming projects or collaborations you're excited about?

I’m excited about several new projects I have in queue, including screenplays and a book series for middle schoolers. I’m also working on two historical screenplays that highlight the incredible resilience of our ancestors. Sometimes, I think we need to reminded of the challenges they faced so we can have more appreciation of who we are and realize we can surmount whatever obstacle we need to. It’s in our DNA to overcome.

How do you see the role of screenwriting evolving in the future?

Writers today worry about AI, but AI is not human. It doesn’t have a beating heart or a soul and an algorithm can never mimic those things. AI might be able to come close, but it can’t imitate the essence of a human spirit, and the human experience is a hell of a lot more interesting than anything AI could come up with. As for the future of screenwriting, I believe our human touch can’t be replicated by AI. The human experience is complex and rich, something AI can’t fully capture. Writers are storytellers, telling stories that are honest and genuine, and we are here to stay. Robots have nothing on us.

What advice would you give to aspiring screenwriters?

To thrive, you need to cultivate a mental space free from negativity and doubt. You can’t do this if you have toxic people in your life. Rid your life of the people who dragging you down. Trust in your abilities even when no one else does. I’ve learned that yielding to others’ skepticism can plant seeds of self-doubt that leads missed chances. Surround yourself with supportive people who believe in you. By embracing a supportive community, your perspective can transform, revealing new possibilities you’ve never imagined. Remember that mastery is a journey; welcome guidance but maintain the integrity of your vision. Stay authentic to yourself. Keep your voice, keep it real, and keep writing!