Carlos Alex Ceni on writing the script for “Watched”

What does it mean for your work to be selected at the International Screenwriting Competition in New York?

Carlos Alex Ceni: It means a lot. Until my participation at ISC I had entered my scripts in generic festivals, not focused on writing. For this reason, being the first specific festival in this sense, and having been considered as a finalist leads me to think that, from humility, “WATCHED” has some potential.

The simple fact of passing the first filter in a festival of this importance, and more so in the area of New York, encourages me to keep improving my technique and to continue in the effort that one of my projects may see the light someday in the form of a finished product.

Can you tell us about the work you participated with at ISC? What is the story about?

Carlos Alex Ceni: Several factors inspired me to write “WATCHED”.  I had two ideas running through my head in order to create two separate shorts.  One related to several  conversations had regarding COVID19, and another one concerning our current over-dependence on technology which, having good points, is leading to the deterioration of relationships among  people, making them increasingly artificial.

From these considerations, the still uncertain origin of the virus and existential thoughts about whether the human being is alone in the Universe led me to create this SCI-FI genre project.

Can you tell us yourself and your artistic talents?

Carlos Alex Ceni: Carlos Alex Ceni was born in 1.970 in Malaga city (Spain), same as well-known actor Antonio Banderas. He studied tourism degree at the private university CEURA in Barcelona. He developed part of his professional life in service companies until he oriented his career to the logistics and distribution sector. An unpleasant work experience in August 2009 is the trigger to start his career as an screenwriter.

I have won various awards at festivals around the world with my short scripts, being “THE HAMSTER” (original version of “WATCHED”) the most awarded, with five wins.

What scripts have you written so far?

Carlos Alex Ceni: I´ve completed three feature screenplays and five shorts.

Top 3 favorite projects that you have been involved in?

Carlos Alex Ceni: It´s difficult to choose one project over another, but so far the ones I am most proud of are:

“MARIO´S LIST” (feature script – melodramatic genre): This is where my adventure as a screenwriter began. Until this very moment I never thought I was capable of writing anything at all.

“THE DOOR” (short script – horror genre): First project fully completed and with which I got my first award at Kosice International Film Festival (Slovakia).

 “THE HAMSTER” (short script – SCI-FI genre): It´s the original concept of “WATCHED”.

What type of scripts do you want to write on your career?

Carlos Alex Ceni: I don’t have a story prototype when it comes to writing. I believe that a good script emerges spontaneously, from a conversation, a dream or an everyday situation.

Nevertheless, I can proudly say that I have completed a feature screenplay in the vein of two of my favorite directors , the magnificent Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie.

As a writer, what is the most important aspect of building a character?

Carlos Alex Ceni: I try to make the main characters convey strong feelings to the viewer, to the point that he/she may feel sympathy, affection, contempt or even hatred towards them.

Since I started writing, and lacking specific training in the field, I try to adjust as much as possible to the writing criteria set by the industry in terms of script format. But in the case of the characters, after mentioning the approximate age range, I like them to evolve along with the story, describing themselves through the dialogues and situations that arise as the story progresses.

Just like people, for me characters have a life of their own, and they can undergo transformations during the film, so I don’t like to pigeonhole them with a specific personality. That’s why I prefer them to be shown as they are, with their strengths and weaknesses, without masks or artifices.

What projects are you currently working on?

Carlos Alex Ceni: I am currently giving the final touches to one of the feature screenplays, entitled MARIO’S LIST, which I define as a melodramatic thriller with hints of suspense and horror, being the main plot the relationships between people in different areas of life. It´s based on some personal experiences through which, after a twist, the protagonist is lead into a dark and heartbreaking environment.

In addition to this one, I have started a short script that, as I progress in the writing, is taking a turn towards a psychological drama, and a TV series inspired by everyday situations that can happen to any ordinary person.

Do you express yourself creatively in any other ways?

Carlos Alex Ceni: What I do is, thanks to the enormous influence of music in my life, associate musical themes to my scripts, and more specifically to certain scenes, even in some cases having the lyrics of the song a close relationship with the specific moment of the story. I have fun visualizing a song in a scene and it also allows me to discover new bands.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career in filmmaking/writing?

Carlos Alex Ceni: During these two and a half years I have found an extremely complicated audiovisual world, highly competitive and a circle that is very difficult to enter. As frustrating as a negative response can be, instead of complaining about it and blaming the other party, try to make a positive reading to improve and reverse the situation.

If you think that what you do has a certain degree of creativity and acceptance, believe in yourself, persevere; sooner or later some door will open. It may be a small door, but it will surely be the first step towards something bigger.

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