Scriptwriter of the Month: Demeter Stavropoulos

Demeter Stavropoulos is a Greek scriptwriter and director whose first short film LATER APHRODITES won multiple international awards. At the moment, she is involved in development of two shorts and her first feature film.

 

To find out more about her projects check out her MTSW profile here and, of course, read our short conversation with her.

 

• What makes the 5 films on your Top 5 list so special?

Lost Highway (1997) by David Lynch

Imaginative style and astonishing suspense. American action film motifs are combined with truly odd Lynchian touches that create new cinematic idioms and exploring new ground in cinema. Amazing soundtrack. I believe is one of the most remarkable films of the 90’s.

Requiem for a Dream (2000) by Darren Aronofsky

What is fascinating in this film is how well it uses the mental states of addiction to penetrate the human soul and portrays the failure to connect with the people around. It’ a nightmare filled up with harrowing truths and breath-taking performances. Powerful climax and original vision. Brilliantly edited with clever stylistic metaphors, and film technics. Fantastic musical composition. Genius direction and interpretation of the writers’ vision and desire.

Τhe House that Jack Built (2018) by Lars Von Trier

Philosophical thriller, reflection on morality and art. A deeply essential film, punch in the stomach, by perhaps the greatest European director of his generation. Matt Dillon’s best performance to date.

The Florida Project (2017) by Sean Baker

Everyday adventure over a sweltering summer that unfolds an uncharted community of people who live in the shadow of the showcase of the imposing Disneyworld “in the land of opportunity”. Bittersweet slice of life. Fully realized and three-dimensional characters, excellent handling of child’s eye’s view & breakthrough performances, female focus. Vibrant film, emphatic toward its subject, critical of the system.

American Honey (2016) by Andrea Arnold

Outstanding independent feature. An endless road trip that visually underlines the limitations the grim social conditions set in young female. Excellent newcomer actress that exudes energy, magnetism, naturalness, sensual detail and curiosity of juvenile daring and the inner life of the heroine. A coming-of-age diary where sexuality is a source of both danger and power.

 

• Why did you decide to go into film?

Getting involved in film was a dream I had since I was a kid. I remember that I was gathering the kids in my neighbourhood, and we collaborated to represent scenes from films that we had seen. I was acting and singing to express myself and to help others express themselves

and feel free as the result. Part of this experience was the premiere and the series of performances we were giving. In fact, we sold tickets and from the proceeds we offered sweets to the spectators to thank them. Also, I was a big fun of Michael Jackson and movies like MOONWALKER or elaborate video clips such as of LIBERIAN GIRL’S SONG, that revealed the backstage of Hollywood, influenced me. Then, for years I abandoned this childhood dream, but it came back in my adult life, this time as a call of soul. It was in 2007 when I finished my studies in Archaeology and realized that I had to follow my natural inclination and decide to go into film by giving qualifying exams in the newly then established film department of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

 

• Commercial films or art house? 

There are diamonds of cinema in both categories that lie in the talent of screenwriters, directors, actors, producers etc. For me movies like CHINATOWN, THELMA & LOUIS OR THE WOLF OF THE WALL STREET are just as respected as-apart from the list of 5 I have already given you – the cinema of Wong Kar Wai, Leos Karax or Lars Von Trier. I like unique films with many layers of meaning that have an important message to share with the audience and that’s why they fill the halls in film festivals and cinemas.

 

•  How and when did you begin writing?

After recreated scenes from movies with friends in my neighbourhood, I started writing my own script, which I never completed. All I remember is that it was about a young female character. The conquest of the film script came a decade later. Of course, a screenwriter constantly enriches knowledge, but the moment when the magic click for me was during my studies at the film school of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. In a scriptwriting lesson by Professor Panagiotis Iosifelis, we had to write a scene in which time would change. What I wrote was the story of a drop or rather the story of a girl or better the story of both. A girl was lying on her bed and was looking at a small stain of moisture on the ceiling. The humidity was growing, and the first drop dripped and became the girl’s tear. The humidity on the ceiling was growing more and more and the fallen drops became the girl’s tears.

 

• Where do you like to write the most?

I like to write wherever I can take my time without anyone bothering me and where everything is neat, and I don’t have to do household chores for days. I want to be alone to remain inseparable from extrinsic factors, especially when I start writing the script of a new idea. I rarely settle in the office, usually I’m cuddling with my laptop in all other areas of the house.

 

• What kind of music do you listen to while writing?

When I develop the texts of a new idea, I usually hear music from the rich discography of Vangelis Papathanassiou. But when I write script scenes, I prefer silence. Of course, when a piece of music inspires me – it could be any – I hear it many times, I write the scenes and then I read them listening to it.

 

• Where do ideas come from?

From the unconscious and… HEAVEN. I’m not kidding. Lately, I was involved in the rewriting of a short that I had written as an exercise in a scriptwriting lesson by Professor Christina

Kallas. The story focusing on the relationship of a young lady with her father, the script title was called DRIVING LESSONS. After so many years since the first draft, the story seemed so simple to me, and the title was not inspiring at all. I wanted to rewrite the story so it would express my style of work, but I had no idea how I would do that. For two weeks I was dealing with other things but having in the back of my mind that I need to find a more original title. One night I slept and saw in my dream a guy wearing a robe and spectacles shooting with a gun right and left. After he caught my attention, he turned to me and said: «Why don’t you call it ‘The Giraffe Dance’? ». I woke up full of wonder and started looking for what Τhe Giraffe Dance means. When I found out that it’s a healing, transformative dance of the African nomadic race !Kung that I had never heard of before, I was surprised. Also, the guy with the gun I had seen in my dream; at the one hand, was looking like my Professor Dimitris Ginosatis who gave me the course Theories of Aesthetic Perception during my Postgraduate Studies in Digital Arts of Fine Arts of Athens. On the other hand, he was looking like a friend of mine, who very recently had sent me an article about indigenous Africans living in a village in Northern Greece, which is not common in my country. So, my script found its title: The Giraffe Dance; its place: the village with the Africans in Northern Greece; and the aesthetic dimension it deserves: Next to the transformative and healing relationship between father and daughter that culminates in all the dramatic emotions unfolds the socio-political commentary on the intervention in nature by a businessman who exploits the Africans of the region. Isn’t it amazing? You just need to trust your dreams.

 

• If could go anywhere in space and time, where would that be?

I would embrace the nowadays incoming, empowering Aquarian energy and I would land in the shore of unicorns during the astrological age of Capricorn between 4000-6000 AD. A space in time which will help us to climb back to immortality and access to the spiritual worlds far away from unrest and turmoil where we could build sanctuary forming a symbiotic ethos blending ancient wisdom with true science in a fair compassionate society. It seems like a period with many obstacles and therefore many heroes.