I’m delighted to have Irena Brignull on the show! Irena is a renowned screenwriter and novelist. She wrote the Oscar nominated movie, The Boxtrolls, starring Ben Kingsley, Elle Fanning and Simon Pegg. Irena was nominated for Best Screenplay for The Boxtrolls at the Annie Awards. Her adaptation of The Little Prince was directed by Mark Osborne and stars Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, and Marion Cotillard. Earlier in her career, Irena was a Script Executive at the BBC and then Head of Development at Dogstar Films where she was the script editor on hit films including Shakespeare in Love to name a few. She recently debuted The Hawkweed Prophecy, a novel about identity, friendship, and romance.
In today’s episode, we discuss Irena’s career as a screenwriter and her experiences writing and adapting The Boxtrolls and The Little Prince. We also discuss what it’s like to be a female screenwriter in a male-dominated industry, and Irena shares advice for women discovering their voice and authority in their own profession.
We unpack the inspiration behind The Hawkweed Prophecy and what it’s like to transition between screenwriting and novel writing. For our craft-focused writers, Irena walks us through how to find inspiration for character traits, how to overcome writing difficult scenes, how to validate and grow your story ideas, and how to build balanced characters to create authentic and genuine relationships in your story.
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“The more you write the more you find your voice.”
“It’s a great thing to be able to go back and have the chance to make it better.”
“Once you really get inside of these characters and walk in their shoes, they take you places you have not necessarily predicted.”
What You’ll Learn From This Episode:
- Tips on learning the art of screenwriting
- The importance of collaboration and teamwork in screenwriting
- Irena walks us through her transition between screenwriting and novel writing
- The inspiration behind “The Hawkweed Prophecy“
- Where you can find inspiration for character traits
- Advice on building balanced characters to create authentic and genuine relationships in your story
- What Irena’s flexible writing structure looks like
- How to overcome writing difficult scenes
- Irena’s experience as a female screenwriter and her advice to women on finding their voice and authority in their profession
- How to find time to write with a busy schedule
- How to validate and grow your story ideas
- Irena’s experience as a screenwriter for The Boxtrolls and The Little Prince
- Learn how to discover your voice and writing style
- The importance of moving past your first draft and being open to the editing process
Poppy Hooper and Ember Hawkweed couldn’t lead more different lives. Poppy is a troubled teen: moving from school to school, causing chaos wherever she goes, never making friends or lasting connections. Ember is a young witch, struggling to find a place within her coven and prove her worth. Both are outsiders: feeling like they don’t belong and seeking escape.
Poppy and Ember soon become friends, and secretly share knowledge of their two worlds. Little do they know that destiny has brought them together: an ancient prophecy, and a life-changing betrayal. Growing closer, they begin to understand why they’ve never belonged and the reason they are now forever connected to each other.
Switched at birth by the scheming witch Raven Hawkweed, Poppy and Ember must come to terms with their true identities and fight for their own place in the world. Enter Leo, a homeless boy with a painful past who – befriending them both – tests their love and loyalty. Can Poppy and Ember’s friendship survive? And can it withstand the dark forces that are gathering?
Learn More About Irena Brignull
Irena Brignull is a renowned screenwriter and novelist. Her credits include the Oscar nominated movie, The Boxtrolls, starring Ben Kingsley, Elle Fanning and Simon Pegg. Irena was nominated for Best Screenplay for The Boxtrolls at the Annie Awards in 2014. Her adaptation of The Little Prince, directed by Mark Osborne and starring Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, James Franco and Marion Cotillard, closed the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. Irena also adapted Skellig for Sky which starred Tim Roth, John Simm and Kelly MacDonald.
Previously, Irena was a Script Executive at the BBC and then Head of Development at Dogstar Films where she was the script editor on hit films including Shakespeare in Love, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, I Capture the Castle and Bravo Two Zero to name a few.
She holds a BA in English Literature from Oxford University.
Irena’s Recommended Books & Resources:
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
The 101 Dalmations by Dodie Smith
Here Be Monsters by Alan Snow
Kung Fu Panda directed by Mark Osborne and John Stevenson
Say ‘Hi!’ to Irena