Interview with March 2020 Diversity Winner - Lena Murisier
How long have you been writing and what made you want to write in the first place?
I've been writing since my teenage years. Back then, it was mostly novels and short stories. I think that what made me write was the necessity to understand what was going on around me, understand the world and understand us, people. I'm from Switzerland where the film and TV industry is slowly growing, but still extremely small next to the Hollywood machine. I didn't really know that writing for film and TV was a thing. But I always had a book in my hands. It's only been a few years that I realized that behind my favorite shows were hundreds of scripts, thousands of hours of writing. A whole new world was opening to me: I could combine my love for film and TV to my love for writing. I soon started reading books about screenwriting, formatting, read dozens of scripts, studied Shonda Rhimes' masterclass over and over again. And eventually, I quit my job in marketing/advertising and boarded a plane to LA. I graduated film school with a screenwriting degree in September 2019, and have since then written many scripts, found success in contests, and directed several shorts. I also have the pleasure to assist the showrunner on a BAFTA-winning, Emmy-nominated show entering its fifth season. I'm learning so much, it's like going to film school all over again but being paid to do it. What genre do you prefer to write in? What draws you to that genre?
I feel like the genre I like to write the most changes regularly. I love thrillers, especially the ones from the 80s, like The Hand that Rocks the Cradle
or Sleeping with the Enemy
. There's something very special about those movies, the set up was fascinating, it took its time, something that wouldn't really work today where everything is much more fast-paced. Now, I might love thrillers but when I look at what I've written so far, it's mostly dramatic comedies. But very recently, I co-wrote a thriller/horror movie and that was a blast. I do believe that whatever the genre is, it all comes down to the characters. I spend extra time working on my characters, giving them clear personalities, goals, giving them life. It's especially important for TV. People might watch a movie for its entertaining story, but in a show, they'll come back for the characters. I find human psychology fascinating and in most of my scripts, I explore not the right or wrong, but why someone does what they do. I'm much more interested in the “why” than in the “what”. Tell us three things you're currently digging.
I'm currently binge-watching season 6 of Grace and Frankie
. I just love their dynamic and they bring something so refreshing to television. Obviously, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are brilliant but I find it absolutely amazing how much we can connect to those characters, whatever your age is. It's brilliantly written. And I'm thankful to see on-screen an older gay couple with Sol and Robert. It is so rare to see LGBTQ couples past 60 on-screen. In the Hollywood world, LGBTQ people seem to magically disappear around that age. Another thing I'm currently obsessed with is a video game called Detroit. Now listen, I'm really not a gamer. In my life, I've never finished a game. I bought plenty, played a few days but never did I finish one (I'm kind of taking pride in that like it's an achievement or something). But recently, my girlfriend introduced me to interactive storytelling games. You play from a third-person view, it's like watching a movie, but you get to make decisions that influence the future of your characters. It's not a lot of gaming, it's mostly watching and deciding and in my case, fucking it up plenty of times. We're obsessed with it and since we started playing, I keep thinking how cool it would be to write a video game like that. Oh and... I'm obsessed with tacos. Always have been, always will be. I don't think I need to explain why. I mean...it's tacos. What interested you about the Roadmap Diversity Initiative?
I follow Roadmap Writers on social media and they have all those cool quotes and encouraging words for writers. They also have these training programs they offer that I think are brilliant and can help writers with their stories, pitches, networking opportunities and so on. I wanted to apply mostly because I felt like my script would hit the right target. I'm European, I speak and write in four languages, I've traveled for years looking for a place that felt like home. I now live in Los Angeles, I found my people here, a community, a sense of belonging. I wish I had access to more LGBTQ stories in my younger age, I would have understood what I’m going through, I would have avoided years of suffering and forcing myself to be someone I am not. I see film and television change today, but there is still a long way to go to normalize all types of genders and sexual orientations. Today, too often it feels like the characters on the screen are limited to their sexual orientation, underlining that we are different, when really, we’re not. We are the same. And this subject is complex. The answers cannot be found in the pages of a book. They have to be felt and lived. To me, that is what the Roadmap Diversity Initiative embodies and why I wanted to submit my script and present myself.Where can we find you?
At Taco Bell most of the time... You can also hit me up on Instagram @lenamurisier, I have a sweet spot for memes. I would also give you my Twitter but you don't want to see that, believe me.