screenwriter to watch
Akash Sherman is an award-winning Canadian writer and director with a strong background in visual effects. He was named one of Playback Magazine’s 5 Filmmakers 2 Watch 2017 at just 22 years of age, carrying out quite the prolific career with two feature narrative films under his belt, a feature documentary, two award-winning short films, and an array of commercial and VR content. His most recent feature film Clara (2018), starring Patrick J. Adams (Suits) and Troian Bellisario (Pretty Little Liars), premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. It won the Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature Film at the Austin Film Festival, and has since found U.S. distribution with Screen Media.
How did you break in or get your start in screenwriting?
At the age of 18, I was a Top 5 finalist in the Cinecoup Film Accelerator, a million dollar competition to fund a feature length script. My feature script Uprising was optioned by Cinecoup. Although the film did not reach production, it was a necessary and humbling first experience that pushed me to writer another film, and then another, and another. I recently turned 24 and have sold 3 feature screenplays thus far, with a dozen other story treatments for films and series.
Writer and Director of Clara (2018)
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that I still have a lot to learn. I believe writers need to continue challenging their own work and ideas to keep sharp, and constantly be absorbing new information and points of view. Although I’m proud of all my work, I’m always looking for areas to improve with each new project.
What’s the hardest scene or project you’ve ever had to write? How did you navigate the challenge?
In a recent film of mine, a character returns home right after having lost someone dear to them. I wanted to truly capture what it’s like the second the door opens to a home filled with a loved one’s things – but they’re not there. That initial realization that they aren’t coming home again. My keyboard was glazed with tears while writing that scene because I know exactly what that’s like – I lived it. It was difficult because I had relive those feelings, but it was worth it because they were real.
What was a major turning point in your career?
A recent turning point in my career began with premiering Clara at TIFF and going on the international festival tour. This allowed me to interact with exciting members of the industry outside of my own country, and resulted in me going to LA and having several opportunities open up that a young Indian kid from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada would not usually have.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently developing two new screenplays, and excited to start pitching from my collection of undeveloped story treatments. On my free time, I like to get lost in a passion project that’s taking form as a young adult fantasy series – which I may or may not ever show anyone.
What are some of your favorite movies?
Movies have always been an escape for me, so I tend revisit a specific few that always let me do that – here are my absolute favorites:
- The Lord of The Rings: Fellowship of The Ring
- The Princess Bride
- Spirited Away
- Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Who are some of your favorite screenwriters?
I admire several screenwriters for different reasons. Damien Chazelle for his writing style – Whiplash is my favorite script to read as the music and tempo jump out at me in words. Spike Jonze is an all-around inspiration as a quirky, soulful, escapist – Her is perfect. The Nolan brothers for their next level high concepts and mind-bending plot structure. Peter Jackson/Fran Walsh/Philip Boyens for their respect of source material and ability to adapt LOTR flawlessly. And finally George Lucas… not for his dialogue, but for the galaxy he created and brought to life with innovative and rhyming storytelling.
Share a memorable experience at Austin Film Festival.
Attending the 2018 Awards Luncheon at AFF and hearing screenwriter Tony Gilroy and legendary filmmaker Roger Corman share their wisdom was an unforgettable experience.