2006 FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards - Interview - Regina Garcia Littlejohn

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Regina Garcia Littlejohn
Third Place Winner
Regina Garcia Littlejohn
of
Concord, CA
Screenplay
PEARLS OF CHINA
Drama
Biography:

Regina Garcia Littlejohn is a litigation attorney who has represented some of the largest high tech companies and investment banks in the world. She has also represented Chinese refugees in their political asylum cases in the United States. Before becoming a lawyer, Reggie was a Methodist minister. She is a graduate of Yale Law School and Yale Divinity School. She has traveled twice around the world and is a published travel writer. Her favorite travel memories include holding hands with a wild mountain gorilla atop a volcano in Zaire (now Congo), being patted on the head by a manta ray while kneeling on the floor of the Pacific ocean, and being led by the hand through the Eturi Rainforest by a pygmy chieftain. She has also worked with Mother Teresa in Calcutta. She lives on a ridgetop with her husband, their son, and their parrots. She is an Advanced Certified Diver and a classical pianist.

Interview

I knew I wanted to be a screenwriter........

when I understood the power of story and realized that the best way to inspire people's hearts and minds is not through the law, but through the art of film.


I know I've succeeded........ 

in writing a compelling drama because of all the complaints of sleeplessness I get from those who have attempted to use Pearls of China as bedtime reading.
 

My inspiration to write PEARLS OF CHINA.......

arose while I traveled through China with my husband. We were in Tibet during an uprising of Buddhist monks protesting the destruction of their monasteries. The Chinese Communist Party cracked down on this peaceful protest with deadly force. Horrified, I vowed to my husband, "If I ever get the chance to show the world what the CCP is really about, I will do it." Pearls of China was written in fulfillment of that vow.

 

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FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Regina Garcia Littlejohn: My experience during the Chinese crackdown in Tibet was my initial inspiration. Later, as a lawyer, I had the opportunity to represent Chinese refugees in their cases for political asylum in the United States. I heard appalling stories of religious persecution and bloodshed in connection with the coercive implementation of China's One Child Policy. I also learned about China's practice of executing prisoners to extract their organs for transplant. These memories haunted me to the point that I had to do something. I resigned from my legal practice and wrote Pearls of China.

FilmMakers Magazine: What did you do to prepare yourself to write your first script?

Regina Garcia Littlejohn: First, I traveled in China and got a first-hand view of the brutality of the Chinese Communist Party towards religious and other dissidents. Second, I represented refugees from China in their cases for political asylum in the United States. Third, I became obsessed with the massive suffering caused by the practices of the CCP. I began to read everything I could get my hands on and to pull together an extensive library documenting these practices. Interestingly, I did not know at the time that I was in fact preparing to write a screenplay! Once I began the script, I focused on spiritual preparation. I wrote the script with much prayer and fasting, and others prayed and fasted for the project as well. Since completing the script, I have shown it to numerous prominent Chinese religious, legal and intellectual figures. They have all confirmed that the practices of the CCP revealed in the screenplay are current and accurate.

FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script and how long did it take you to complete?

Regina Garcia Littlejohn: Yes, this is my first script, and it took about a year, off and on, to complete it, once I had finished my research.

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you have a set routine, place and time management for writing?

Regina Garcia Littlejohn:
I tend to write in fits and starts. My only requirement is to be well caffeinated. It also helps to have at least one parrot on my shoulder.

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests are important for aspiring screenwriters and why?

Regina Garcia Littlejohn: Yes, definitely. When you are new and don't yet have an agent, doing well in a screenplay contest can help open doors to potential directors and producers.

FilmMakers Magazine: What influenced you to enter the FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards?

Regina Garcia Littlejohn: I entered because of the prestige of the contest and because of those who will read my script if it places in the top ten. I also entered this competition because if my script wins or places, I won't lose the rights to it for a year. This is the case in many other contests, which take out a one-year option on the winning scripts.

FilmMakers Magazine: What script would you urge aspiring writers to read and why?

Regina Garcia Littlejohn: Read Titanic. I love the way that James Cameron embraced the sinking of the Titanic in the arms of a tragic love story. The historical event and the romance reflect and resonate off of each other. I have tried to achieve this effect with the love story in Pearls of China.

FilmMakers Magazine: Beside screenwriting what are you passionate about and why?

Regina Garcia Littlejohn: I am passionate about those who are suffering unjustly. Whenever I feel tired or discouraged, I think about someone who is being forced to have an abortion, or who is being tortured for their faith, or who is being executed to have their organs extracted for transplant at that very moment and it renews my determination. If Pearls of China can help just one person escape such a fate, then it is more than worth all the effort. I also feel passionate about my other ministry, to orphans in war-torn Uganda.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Regina Garcia Littlejohn: I admire the faith and passion Randall Wallace brings to his work.

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the director you would love to work with and why?

Regina Garcia Littlejohn:
I am searching for a director of courage and conviction, one who cares deeply about human suffering, and one who believes that love and faith can provide a way out. Pearls of China is not a project for the faint of heart. It is, however, a film that could have a major impact on a situation that cries out desperately for justice. .

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the actor you would love to work with and why?

Regina Garcia Littlejohn: I would love to work with Bai Ling. Not only is she an excellent actress, but it was extremely courageous for her to expose the unfairness of the Chinese legal system, as she did in Red Corner.

FilmMakers Magazine: Any tips and things learned along the way to pass on to others?

Regina Garcia Littlejohn: For emerging Christian screenwriters, don't listen to those who say that Hollywood is hostile to Christians. If you've got a great story and you've mastered your craft, your work will be recognized. You should be encouraged that Pearls of China has done well in this completely non-religious, Hollywood screenplay contest. It can be done don't give up!

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Regina Garcia Littlejohn: I'm pulling together a team to produce Pearls of China. It is urgent to get this film made soon, as the attention of the world will be focused on China in connection with the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 2009, and the World Exhibition in Shanghai in 2010.

FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from now?

Regina Garcia Littlejohn:
I would like to have written and produced several more screenplays. Like Pearls of China, these screenplays will be designed to present, in dramatic form, a crucial social issue. My vision is to wake up the somnolent West to the pressing threats of our time. I believe the art of film is the most powerful and effective way to do this.

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