Neha Srivastava

Thank you Neha 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 Neha, can you tell us about your background and how you got started in screenwriting?

After writing advertisements, prose and poems for about 28 years, I thought of writing screenplays at the insistence of my son. My writing career started as a creative in an advertising agency, I worked for 14 years in the advertising world, then got the biggest promotion life can give us, I became a mother, so I quit the mainstream 10 to 5 job and started freelance writing with the 24 x 7 job of motherhood. My short stories were published in international Anthologies. My micro short story, ‘Game’ got a diploma at the IVth edition of the prestigious Fundación César Egido Serrano, Museo de la Palabra micro short story competition. Between 2021 and 2023, I wrote 7 scripts, three features and four shorts, they have been awarded and recognized at 39 international film festivals. I got the platinum Remi award for my script, Fairy Dress in 2022.

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

For many this process is tedious but for me, once I start writing, its like I am breathing. Once I start writing is the key line… I start writing after procrastination itself glares down at me.

Once in the flow of writing, the characters manifest themselves according to the story-line. While bringing them to life sometimes they win, sometimes I win. I try to be democratic and let them win too, but I do try and keep the reigns in my hands otherwise there would be anarchy in my story, sometimes the characters go wild.

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

‘Toys’ is the recent short film I produced based on my published story, ‘Two toys’. While writing the screenplay, there were many moments that I had created in prose but could not write them in the screenplay, as it has to be more visual, as the cliché goes – ‘show, don’t tell’. So cutting off my favorite descriptive lines was tough for me. Moreover, at times I felt I was tearing my short story into sections like… Dialogue… Character… Action… I felt the story was loosing it’s prose magic, but once the screenplay was shot and produced, the magic resurfaced.

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

The most important element of the screenplay is the character, because that is who the audiences invest their time, emotion and money in.

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

I can only ask for more respect for screenwriters, if not remuneration…

How do you approach writing for different genres and audiences?

I have to feel strongly about that particular genre at that particular time. The audiences are fluid, if the story is strong and touches the heart then audiences will flow in… irrespective of their preferences.

How do you handle feedback and criticism?

I wish I could honestly say, I accept it with grace… at first, I don’t. The writer in me, who has lived through the story for so many nights and days gets offended, but then the sensible part of me scolds the writer, accepts the criticism and feedback and that leads to a much improved screenplay.

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

Recently, my script, ‘Daayen. The hunted’ got optioned by Media Minstrels, it was really exciting. I want the film to be made as it talks about the social evil of witch hunting.

It was also surreal to get international representation by Nuala Quinn Barton at Mania Entertainment LCC soon after I finished my continuing education classes at Oxford university, under Carl Schoenfeld.

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

Role… it’s actually the soul… without good screenwriting there is no movie. Through my interaction with various screenwriters across the world I can clearly see that they are getting to know their worth now. They are extremely evolved human beings but now they have to improve and expand their horizons.

What advice would you give to aspiring screenwriters?

I doubt if I am capable enough of giving any advice, but what I do is that even if I do not want to write… I open the laptop and write, ’I do not want to write today…’ Once I have opened the page, the writer in me nudges me to write a few lines.

Just write – otherwise only you will know what a great writer you are… the world won’t. Also, screenwriting is the only place where kids can show their parents their work on screen.