Making It As A Screenwriter | Alexandra Qin on Thirstygirl & Sundance

By: Laura Huie

 

New York-based screenwriter and director Alexandra Qin was our second-place winner in our 2022 Fall Short Film Fund for THIRSTYGIRL, a proof-of-concept short about a young Asian-American woman who has to drive her estranged alcoholic sister to rehab in Kentucky while dealing with a secret addiction of her own.

 

Since placing in our Short Film Fund, Alex has screened THIRSTYGIRL at the 2024 Sundance Festival, as well as many other festivals across the country and abroad. She is currently developing THIRSTYGIRL as her first feature, the screenplay for which was the Grand Prize Winner of the 2022 Page Awards, a 2022 Nicholl Semifinalist, and the Winner of the 2021 Finish Line Social Impact screenplay competition. She has also been recently announced as one of the fellows for the 2024 Antigravity Academy Screenwriters Camp.

 

 

We caught up with Alex to ask her about her filmmaking journey up to this point, her Sundance debut, and advice for emerging screenwriters.

 

The Beginning

 

Before venturing into the world of cinema, Alex had carved out a decade-long career in technology and prison reform activism. However, her life took a transformative turn about five years ago when she decided to embrace sobriety, a decision that often leads individuals to reconnect with their childhood dreams.

 

For Alex, that dream was always cinema. From a young age, she harbored a deep love for film, and three years ago, she mustered the courage to pursue it earnestly. Her foray into filmmaking began with penning her debut feature screenplay, THIRSTYGIRL, which served as the foundation for her subsequent short film.

 

When the question arose regarding who would helm the directorial reins for her feature, Alexandra initially hesitated. She aspired to direct, but uncertainty lingered. It was a mentor’s advice that steered her in the right direction. Encouraged to infuse her personal touch into the project, Alexandra decided to direct a short film as a proof-of-concept.

“When it came time to decide who would be the director of my first feature, thankfully, a mentor of mine said, ‘Alex, you have to direct it. It’s such a personal story. Why don’t you direct a short proof-of-concept first so that you can learn and show the world how you would direct your script?’ And so that is how the short film THIRSTYGIRL came about.”

 

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Her Experience Placing in our Short Film Fund

 

Placing in the Short Film Fund proved to be a pivotal moment for Alex and her team. The $5,000 production grant came at a critical juncture, as they were grappling with being over budget. With their resources stretched thin, they allocated the entire grant towards post-production expenses, covering costs for the editor, colorist, sound designer, and composer.

 

Plus, the support didn’t end with a financial boost. We facilitated a connection with filmmaker and Tribeca programmer Kimberly Browning, whose expertise in film festival strategy proved invaluable. Under Browning’s guidance, they crafted a comprehensive plan to navigate the competitive festival circuit.

 

“I can’t say enough how helpful Shore Scripts has been in the process, especially just in creating a community of support around the film and getting the message about THIRSTYGIRL out there. That’s been incredible.”

 

About Her Sundance Debut

 

The acceptance into Sundance defied expectations, sparking opportunities and connections. Alex found herself thrust into a vibrant network of industry professionals and enthusiasts, expanding the reach of her film far beyond what she had imagined. Encounters with prospective production companies and financiers eager to support the feature adaptation of THIRSTYGIRL further affirmed the festival’s transformative impact on her career trajectory.

 

 

“Playing Sundance was a dream come true. I’ve been watching Sundance films for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been reading reviews of all Sundance films every year since I was a teenager. I never expected that THIRSTYGIRL would get into Sundance.”

 

The meticulous care invested in every aspect of the festival, coupled with the enthusiastic reception of her film during the screening, created an atmosphere she describes as nothing short of magical.

 

Advice to First-Time Filmmakers

 

“I would give the advice that was given to me, which is to just go make your first film. I was really scared to do that. I didn’t want to be a ‘bad director’ or ‘bad artist.’ But most of adulthood was the fear of being bad at it. And I’ve done a lot of work on myself. Often on self-esteem to be able to take risks and not be so afraid of making ‘bad art.’ I don’t really believe there’s such a thing as bad art. Art is about self-expression.

 

You have to be brave and you have to believe that your self-worth is not so much tied to the product that you create in order to be an artist. I encourage everyone who’s starting out to just go make their first film and to see it as a learning experience above all. Making THIRSTYGIRL, I never thought it would get into a festival like Sundance.”

 

 

Future Plans for THIRSTYGIRL

 

Alex’s short film is set to grace screens across several locations in the coming month, spanning the UK, Brussels, Florida, Los Angeles, and a return to New York. The anticipation surrounding these screenings hinted at a promising trajectory for the feature adaptation. While Alex can’t reveal details about specific developments, she expressed optimism about the project’s progression.

 

 

Submit to our Short Film Fund!

 

Turn your calling card script into an attention-grabbing short film with our $15,000 cash production grant!

 

As much as we love to read scripts, too many excellent shorts never progress beyond the written word, which is why we established the Short Film Fund to help take those compelling stories off the page and onto the screen. We will help finance and produce two short films in 2024.

 

Previous winners have gone on to gain representation, sold screenplays, and been staffed on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, & BBC shows as a direct result of winning and producing their shorts with us. Learn more about the Short Film Fund here.

 


Laura Huie is a writer and editor involved in comedy-drama screenwriting, fiction editing, and full-time marketing copy. Laura is also a freelance article writer for Shore Scripts and has worked with Script Pipeline on their live Symposium series. She is one-half of the screenwriting duo, Bloom & Huie. Together, they have written multiple television series as well as a feature-length film. Their mission is to write honest and witty female stories wrapped up in unbelievable worlds.

 

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