Paul Angunawela on Diversity and Final Draft
Writer and director Paul Angunawela (Keith Lemon: The Film, Blame it on the Bhangra) knows there’s something about writing with an old-school pen and paper that just can’t be replicated. But he also knows the power of screenwriting software.
“I see these kids in the neighborhood shops that want to write but they’ve got nothing but a pen and scrap paper,” he said.
“I tell them to save up and buy Final Draft. It frees them from thinking about format and puts them in a professional caliber.”
The young people Angunawela encounters are often from low-income families and their knowledge of Hollywood standards is limited.
“But they’re good writers,” he said.
“[Final Draft] helps them hopefully be taken seriously one day. They have stories to tell.”
Angunawela lives in Southall, England; a community in west London with strong Indian and Pakistani roots, which gives it its nickname, “Little India.” For him, getting Asians and others that normally aren’t on screen up there for representation is a priority.
“And not just for bit parts or stereotypes” he said.
Angunawela, who is Sri Lankan, advocates for diversity behind the camera and in the writing, too.
His own path to expanding perspective in film started with a career at Nickelodeon UK, where he was a live studio director and producer. Before that, Angunawela studied psychology.
He worked with the British Film Institute to develop his Bollywood crossover film, The Dick, a detective movie about a young man who discovers the truth about his father while solving unusual cases.
Partnering with actor Leigh Francis, Angunawela developed the Chanel Four television series Bo Selecta! before going on to write and direct low-budget but high-grossing comedy films for Lionsgate.
Recently, he sold a spec to Lionsgate UK: A supernatural comedy in the vein of Ghostbusters.
Influenced by The Big Lebowski, the horror comedy has three multiethnic, female main characters. They reflect Angunawela’s preference for stories about people who represent the world over homogeneous, white-washed versions of it.
He will continue to write these stories with his favorite green pen, but only before he sends them off, one at a time, to add variety to what we see. For that, you can bet he will use Final Draft.
Kallie Tenney is a Los Angeles-based screenwriter. She is the creator of the cult favorite YouTube series, Gal Pals, which can be found at www.youtube.com/galpalsseries. You can follow her on Twitter @kallietenney