I’m back from Utah, where I was working as an advisor at the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. I had five projects in three days, which made for a lot of reading and meeting, picking-apart and putting-back-together.

The scripts this year were as emotionally challenging as ever — of the projects I covered, three involved the rape or death of children. 1 Only one was set in the U.S., with the others coming from the U.K., South Africa, Brazil and China. My meeting with Chinese filmmakers involved a translator, as the six things I can say in Mandarin couldn’t suffice.2 My longest meeting — the one American project — went 4 1/2 hours, flipping pages and cutting scenes.

It was an exhausting but exhilarating couple of days. It’s great to work with writers focused on making projects more honest rather than more commercial.

  1. To be fair, the one with the highest body count was a comedy.
  2. “Hello,” “Thanks,” “I speak a little Chinese,” “Slippers,” “Snow,” and “Jump!” The first three are courtesy Pimsleur. The last three come from watching Ni Hao, Kai-Lan with my daughter.