Since graduating from the National School of Humor in 2012, writer Justin Felley has been laying out her projects. In 10 years, she has worked on an astonishing number of TV shows, including Please do not send flowersAnd MedAnd Good evening!And saneAnd swingersAnd tightropeAnd TV kids And Almost perfect dinner, To name a few, in addition to contributing scripts for many comedians and variety shows. I recently co-wrote the movie MaryaIn cooperation with Mariana Mazza, in addition to co-writing the series targeting young people little kingsWith Marie-Helen Lapierre. Suppose she is not unemployed!
We had the opportunity to chat with her about her burgeoning career and her vision of TV writing during an interview.
That’s what she had to tell us.
Where did your passion for writing and screenwriting come from?
I have always consumed a lot of novels, both on television and in the cinema. It’s silly, but I moved a lot as a teenager and there was always a time when I didn’t know anyone in the city I just moved to, so TV was my friend. Then I was always writing in life, not necessarily from fiction, but as a teenager it was part of my daily life. At some point, I was at UQAM in criticism and dramaturgy, And we had a playwriting class. I had to do the writing exercise for theater and it amazed me so much that I made a play in two days. Then I wanted to study at the National Theater School as an author, but was not accepted. It must be said that it was very restrictive as a program. So I attended the National School of Humor, and I still write, but the other way around. After a week of school, I was so happy that my Plan A didn’t work out.
Sometimes you are a screenwriter, sometimes you are a screenwriter or text editor. What do you value in each of these roles?
When I work as a writer, I really love having to pick up music for the person I’m writing for, regardless of their background. You have to succeed in reconciling the character and tone of the text; I love that. It’s very satisfying when it becomes a great collaboration. Otherwise, as a text editor, I would like to get someone to like it. I don’t appreciate the part where I have to cut things out or the part where I have to bridge the gap between presenter and artist, but I find it great to collaborate with someone to make their scripts more effective, by suggesting gags or playing with structure, for example.
What I love the most is the screenwriter. What I love is giving voice to the characters, to find how they will express themselves. I think it’s where I have the most creative freedom, because everywhere else I have to stick with someone or help someone spread their ideas.
the film Marya, which I wrote with Mariana Mazza, is the thing that reminds me the most of anything, even if it’s been two years since I finished writing it. There are 100,000 states I could change in the script from my experience, but it’s still very satisfying to do more or less than I wanted with this project.
What are the essential ingredients to making a good chain?
Good characters. For me to find myself engrossed in a series, the characters have to come looking for me, they must have some complexity. I hate characters who are only on the surface. This is what will make the series not interest me.
The theme, the concept, yes, has value, but the presence of complex and likable characters is essential for both the audience and the screenwriters.
We can see that sometimes: there are series that are built on solid ideas, but they wear out because the characters aren’t strong enough. The concept should be strong, especially for the first season, except that the story doesn’t necessarily have to be based on the following seasons. If you want people to stay, you need complex, rich, and interesting characters.
What unlikely situation have you had to overcome as a screenwriter?
Marya It was filmed at the beginning of the epidemic, so we had to revise the script according to the rules of the region. There were several of them, which determine how close the performers are and how much time they can spend near each other. At that time, Florence Longbury was already ranked
Zone 1 , meaning she could be very close to the other performers, on another project, so we had to do some weird stuff. I remember a scene where Maria’s character was crying and we had to find a way to explain that Florence Longbury’s character wouldn’t take her in his arms, unlike her other friend. the same for little kingsNovelist I worked on. It’s a series meant for young adults, but health restrictions didn’t allow us to show much physical bonding on screen. During the development of the series, there was a desire that it be a little more than that Who didso it is strange that there is no more sexual activity, kisses, etc.
Even this made me feel uncomfortable Marya Because the character Alice Pascual is playing is a lesbian and there’s a scene where she’s surfing in a bar. The actresses couldn’t kiss and thought that was weird. I was afraid it looks like we have a file
Lesbian Decorations We didn’t want to see her intimate on screen. But health measures led to a great discovery since Florence Longbury’s boyfriend plays Pascal Cameron, who is also her true lover. It wasn’t a logical choice, as he has no acting training, but in the end he did a great job. (laughs) I’d like to tell you that COVID has really changed things, of course.
Looking back, what element of the job surprises you the most compared to the idea you had about it when you started?
I think television in general is an environment that combines very demanding professions. And I know it’s hard to understand the relatives of people who work on television who don’t take a shower in this world. Sometimes people will tell me:
Well, you will answer it tomorrow! When I get an email in the evening, but no, I can’t: we’re shooting tomorrow.
I think, because of the degree of participation it requires, it’s a job for people, in general, motivated people, but it also means that sometimes you’re probably a little demanding of yourself.
At the same time, I think that people who have an art-related business, even if they don’t work, always think a little bit about it. On Saturday afternoon I may be making spaghetti sauce, but I may be thinking of a gag I miss in the text. actually no
This is possible, that’s for sure. (laughs) My favorite place to think is the shower, you know. (laughs) That’s actually what surprised me the most: Even if you’re not typing in front of your computer, you’re always working a little bit.
What series would you like to write?
kill eve. Sometimes I watch the series and it pains me not to write about this fiction. Everything about it is perfect: artistic direction, cast, story, characters, their relationships, music, clothing choices; I love all! I find it unusual. It’s about deep inside me.
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