A team of established film producers from the Mekong region are working together to launch the “Write and Eat” initiative. The project aims to provide film production training and support the next generation of screenwriters.

In this way, the project’s organisers hope to preserve the region’s unique culture through high quality local films.

The producers – from Cambodia, Lao, Vietnam and Singapore – are inviting local companies to sponsor the workshops, which are being undertaken with the support of the cinema department of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.

The initiative is a collaborative effort by 802 Films’ Sok Visal of Cambodia, Xaisongkham Induangchanthy of Laos, Epsin Hoan of Vietnam and Singaporean Andy Ho. It will provide a year-long series of workshops and networking sessions designed to improve the standards of regional and local script writing.

Celebrated Singaporean screenwriter Ng Swee San – who is also a Master of Arts level creative writing teacher at Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore and a former president of the Screenwriters Association (Singapore) – will be one of the official course tutors.

“Cambodia – as with all of the Mekong countries – has unique tastes and perspectives when it comes to movies,” said Visal.

“This series of workshops is all about supporting the region’s next generation of filmmakers and screenwriters,” he added.

He believes that without support, young Southeast Asia film industry talents will be forced to retire and pursue different careers. He hopes that the programme will change their lives.

The administrators of the initiative are looking to enrol fifteen budding screenwriters aged 22 to 35 years of age from Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos to take part in this ‘one of a kind’ regional educational programme.

“Budding screenwriters are not required to pay any fees, as we have enlisted the support of several private sector companies. They will need to make a 100-buck-deposit for each of the six courses,” Visal told The Post.

“The deposit means that the participants won’t give up without finishing a course. Our official course tutors are going to spend their valuable time and energy to share knowledge with them,” he said.

Each of the three participating countries will nominate five candidates.

The course outline includes visual storytelling, character development, dialogue writing, creating story structure, and other elements essential to scriptwriting.

“We are looking for those from this region who are passionate about the craft of filmmaking and who want to help develop the industry,” said Visal.

Visal, the founder of 802 Films Production – as well as being a well-known art and creative director, music producer and founder of the KlapYaHandz record label – is wholly committed to advancing Cambodia’s film industry.

His name has appeared in the credits of five feature films over the past 10 years, and he also organises major entertainment events and supports multiple international productions.

“Of course, as one of the main organisers, we are expecting Cambodia’s strong cultural voice and creativity to play a major role in this initiative,” he said.