NY Elite: Congratulations on being an ISC finalist. What does it mean for your work to be selected at the International Screenwriting Competition in New York?
Karan Talwar: It’s always a great feeling to be commended for your work on way or another, it really gives that boost of encouragement to keep soldiering on and pursuing what fulfills us.
NY Elite: Can you tell us about the work that you participated with at ISC? What is the story about?
Karan Talwar: As a man prepares to be executed on death row, a journalist preps him for a TV interview, and he recounts his earlier life and the mass murder he committed.
NY Elite: Can you tell us yourself and your artistic talents?
Karan Talwar: Film has always been a passion for me dating back to growing up in my late Grandfather’s video shop. His love for film became my passion. Being raised within and around the London Film Industry only cultivated this path, with family and friends spread around different functions of the film and media, whether it be in marketing, assistant direction, production management, distribution, acting and development. Initially working with MADE from 2016; a charitable organization with an overall vision to contribute to reducing discrimination against BAME & LGBTQ+ Londoners, this resonated with me being of Indian descent. Our first specific aim is to reduce prejudices about those communities and the second to increase career readiness for talent of us from those communities entering into the creative industries.
Studying Economics and Finance at Durham University provided me with the skill set to learn how the film market ticks. Eventually, this was reflected with my undergraduate dissertation: ‘What are the key determinants of success for the box office within the UK motion picture industry?’ which received a first. This brought me to production companies such as Origin Pictures and 42 Management and Production, assisting within the development departments, where I assessed potential projects and aided in the development of ongoing projects. Currently, I am on my route to developing my own work. Both my more recent Feature scripts the Vet and Colorado Caliber have been selected in various stages in 9 festivals or competitions in 2021 and am currently in the midst of preproduction for my directorial short film debut; GHANIMAH.
NY Elite: What scripts have you written so far?
Karan Talwar: I started with writing at around 16, only taking slightly more seriously by 17 when I had written my first ever feature script ‘Deadbeat Symphony’, which is a story about Four junkie aspiring punk rock stars plot a fake kidnapping in order to use the ransom money to pay for their demo tape. This got some initial recognition in a couple of London based festivals. Then with university coming along I had only written a couple more scripts in between which after a lot of deliberation I eventually disregarded, rendering them as learning experiences. Due to this I had the opportunity to work at a couple production companies and gain a practical insight to how film operates in London.
However, after some time I had realized that I wanted to pursue my own projects. This led me to taking a career in contracting within investment banking to support myself while I write features and make short independent films. Since then I have written a script called ‘The Vet’; A traumatized war veteran attempts to heal with the help of a psychiatrist with an unusual approach, but he begins to question the situation when a wolf starts to haunt his dreams and his reality. Which so far has been accoladed as a Finalist in Screencraft Horror Screenplay Competition 2022, Scriptation Showcase – Features + Shorts Category 2021-2022, Screencraft Drama Screenplay Competition 2021, WeScreenplay – Diverse Voices Fall 2021 as well as an Honorable Mention in the Finish Line Script Competition 2021. Colorado Caliber was written right after and also been accoladed as a Finalist in Page Turner Awards Screenplay Award 2021 Screenplay Award, Scriptation Showcase – Features + Shorts Category 2021-2022, an honorable mention in the Finish Line Script Competition 2021, and now in the ISC, its honestly a privilege.
NY Elite: Top 3 favorite projects that you have been involved in?
Karan Talwar: The last project I’ve been involved with always ends up being my favorite until the next one pops up. But working on numerous projects some ending up being made, some unfortunately still stuck in development, I can’t really pinpoint 3 in particular.
NY Elite: What type of scripts do you want to write in your career?
Karan Talwar: I’ve always been attracted towards material that focused on people and the human condition, subjects that may seem somewhat forbidden or with individuals that are treated in a derogatory way. To an extent outsiders, people that are somewhat troubled, or misunderstood, those that may be easy to villainize, and with these people I like to focus on how to understand their experiences, their dispositions, their overall nature through a narrative and to deal with them with humanity and without judgment.
With ‘Colorado Caliber’ I was aiming to draw a psychological portrait of a man who can’t ever redeem himself. By telling that story I wanted statements on the legal system, the ill-society and the social constructs that can break a man’s spirit. We discover a wounded man who would never be allowed to heal, all while the hurting is unbearable. Getting into the mind of a troubled young man, I would hope gives Francis’s personality and emotional demons a lot of weight, and never resort to easy answers. The white, suburban American school shooter is such a charged figure both in fiction and in real life, so I was trying to present a three-dimensional kid, who the audience can be empathetic towards without glorifying his actions or reveling in the violence.
NY Elite: As a writer, what is the most important aspect of building a character?
Karan Talwar: For me it’s always to treat all your characters with honesty, without judgement and always with compassion.
NY Elite: What projects are you currently working on?
Karan Talwar: I’ve just recently completed another feature script called ‘The Incumbents’, it’s about the individual trials and tribulations of an interracial political family in west London over the course of two weeks. I’ll be hoping to push this out in the competition and festival circuit in the next couple months.
I’m also about to embark on my directorial short film debut with ‘GHANIMAH’; A heated argument occurs when Abdulla declares he is joining the British Military to the shock of his pacifist father Omar and anger of his fundamentalist older brother Moh. As their debate unfurls past resentments and revelations rise to the surface, boiling to a point where they can no longer contain themselves. Which I am now in the midst of preproduction on.
NY Elite: Do you express yourself creatively in any other ways?
Karan Talwar: As a child I wanted to be a painter, and that took over into my adolescence as I became more embroiled into that world until my late teens when I took up music and found myself in an indie punk band for a couple years between 17 and 18, which served as kind of an inspiration for my first script. Eventually however, I found writing and directing to be something I wanted to pursue I felt at the end of the day film is a combination of all these art forms, and merely just being lucky to be growing up around that atmosphere of film. I also box at an amateur level, and find that to be an art in itself, in its purest form it’s all about precision, movement, timing and placement, it’s a bit of a dance, albeit with violent ends.
NY Elite: What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career in filmmaking/writing?
Karan Talwar: Just to read and watch as much as you can from the past, from the works that have stood the test of time, but at the same time you can really learn from everything. However, you can’t live like a hermit we all really just need to experience life wherever it may be, whatever we may be doing.
To be persistent and consistent with your output and your work, and to actually have something to say, especially now film is oversaturated so I feel to really stand out you need to come from a place that is honest, pure, and compassionate, even if its within genre, you can always have something to say. I’ve learnt from in a lot of cases, even people that are in the midst of their debut feature right now, they all just stuck around long enough, and in due time people with influence would start pay attention to them. And it won’t be a few weeks or months, it takes years, and a lot of people that want to get into this need to realize that. I started in the at 16 and have now just turned 23, and it’s only been in the last year that I’ve been recognized for my work, and am only making my first, to an extent professional debut short film, and even then, I’m still pretty far away from where I would want to be, so getting some recognition along the way is always a great little moment in my memory bank to have in order to keep pushing me forward. You really need to be dedicated and not give up as cliché as it sounds, I’ve seen it firsthand, it’s all about perseverance.