We are interviewing out authors about their experience of 2020. Did COVID19 pandemic, war and economic and political crisis impacted their life and work?
We are now presenting to you the conversation with Harout Ghukassian, scriptwriter, who has authored more then 25 scripts for films and series which have been produced in Armenia, Eastern Europe and US. His fantasy novel Book of Genius is another project will hopefully become a success story on the screen, too.
Question: Despite of COVID19 outbreak in 2020, you have fulfilled several big projects during last two years.
Answer: Right, despite of all the difficulties last year we finished the filming of The Return․ It is an Armenian-Greek co-production and will be released in 2021. Soon the shooting of the war drama It Is Spring will be finalized and this one is an Armenian-American co-production. There are some other ongoing projects, which are also in the negotiations process․ Hopefully some of them will be international productions.
Q: You are the author of nearly 30 movies and quite famous TV shows.
A: Honestly, I have lost the count of the movies and TV series produced. It is a history of great experience. But now all my attention and resources are concentrated on ongoing projects and working towards promoting my scripts beyond Armenia.
Q: One of your most famous projects, The Trap, a crime drama series is considered a cult film in Armenia, the TV ratings of which have not been exceeded yet.
A: The Trap was really a phenomenal success not only in Armenia but among all native speakers around the world. Of course, that huge success couldn’t just fade away. The rights were obtained for co-production by Russian and Ukrainian companies. And it gave a start for other collaborative offers which came to me from abroad.
Q: Besides writing scripts, you also have books.
A: Last year my fantasy novel The Book of Genius was published. I don’t like to talk about my works, but according to readers’ and literary critics’ responses, the book is considered one of the best in its genre. I hope that it will soon be published in English and other languages and the readers outside Armenia will have the opportunity to read and evaluate it.
Q: Is the job of a screenwriter and a writer difficult?
A: It is not easy. Apart from writing you need to be disciplined, flexible and have abilities to develop your skills further and further. I like creating interesting stories, creating strong, contradictory heroes, those which characters develop in a very interesting way. As for the profession of a screenwriter…if I ask you to tell me five names of screenwriters, perhaps you won’t be able to do so, if you are not a screenwriter or an agent. Instead you will mention dozens of directors’ names. I think when people choose the profession of a screenwriter their aim is not to become famous. They just want to create and tell interesting stories.
Q: Can you mention the names of the screenwriters whose works inspired you?
A: Some are Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin , Joel & Ethan Cohen , David Chase, David Mamet… I can add many more names to this list.
Q: Name your top 5 movies.
A: Godfather, Schindler’s List, Matrix, Big Lebowski, 12 Angry Men… and at least 10 more movies.
Q: Your top 5 shows.
A: The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Homeland, Narcos…, but I can add more and more to this list, of course.
Q: You have prepared a collection of short stories Seven Short Stories for print. What are they about?
A: They are short, original and very interesting stories on which wonderful movies and shows can be based. I could write that stories in a form of synopsis but when you use literary language, you get the opportunity to reveal the inner world of the protagonists and give interesting curves to the plot. You don’t just tell a story. You add emotions, which give the reader a complete immersion into the story. It may also be published as an e-book.
Q: During last years you have been trying to present your ideas, scripts to famous US and Western companies.
A: Now we do it together (with my agents at ARI Literary and Talent Agency). Though we live in the world of developed technologies, where information reaches from one part of the world to the other in seconds, most people have certain stereotypes. When they learn you are from Armenia, they have doubts; whether a person living on the other end of the world can suggest you something interesting. And this is somehow an objective doubt. But as they say in a famous movie “you will never know, until you try”.
There are millions of people in the world who create stories which they think are the coolest stories ever written. And, of course, it is very difficult for the agents and producers to find really interesting and original stories out of that huge pile.
As for me I have certain principles. I will never write a story which can be a reiteration or be uninteresting, frivolous. It is a waste of time and resources.
Now we are negotiating with famous producing companies and we shall soon have interesting news.
Q: And the last question. Tell us about the projects are you working on currently, information on which can be shared with us?
A: Right now, I am working on two projects. Drama series, which tells a story of a young mafia gang boss, whose daughter becomes a victim of a terroristic act. The second one is an animated feature film about parent love and self-sacrifice for the sake of the child and readiness to break all the rules and norms set in the society.