Author, screenwriter and instructor Katherine Montagu will lead a screenwriting workshop at this year’s Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival. (File photo)

Workshop offers nuts and bolts of writing for screen

Screenwriter, instructor Kat Montagu to speak at Shuswap writers’ festival

“B.C. has a fantastic, thriving film industry and they are hiring Canadian screenwriters; it’s very exciting.”

That just in from Kat Montagu, who will lead a screenwriting workshop at the 2019 Shuswap Writers’ Festival in May.

Montagu is a writer, producer, script analyst, story editor and teacher in Vancouver. She also writes film, television and historical fiction.

An award-winning screenwriting instructor for many years, Montagu teaches at Vancouver Film School, LaSalle College and Emily Carr University. She has a bachelor of fine arts and a Masters of fine arts in creative writing from UBC. Her scripts have won a Praxis Centre for Screenwriters Fellowship, provincial development funding and a BC Film Feature Screenwriting Internship and she was a semi-finalist for Page International for a TV pilot.

Born in the UK, the younger Montagu never dreamt her life would lead to the film industry or teaching.

She came to Canada to study writing, determined she would become a novelist. But school offered another choice.

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“They make you try every genre and I loved screenwriting from that moment on.”

While in university, people kept giving screenplays to Montagu, who was working as a waitress to make her way through school.

“I like a job that takes me out in to the world,” she says, pointing out that a number of years ago, an actress friend asked her to fill in teaching a session at Vancouver Film School while she attended an audition. “I loved it, the students responded, she asked me again and then the school asked me to teach a course. I just fell into it.”

That Montagu is where she is meant to be, is perhaps best described by her students, who offer rave reviews online: “The most worthwhile classes of my entire experience. Kat is passionate about her line of work as well as helping her students. She expects a lot, but it makes you work harder…; “…She gives you her absolute best and expects the same in return. If I could go back to VFS, I am 100 percent sure I would take all her courses again.

An accomplished author, Montagu enjoys the collaborative nature of film.

“With a novel, you have to fill in all blanks,” she says, noting that when you write a film, you have a costume designer and set designer. “Your focus is really on the characters, what they say and do. It’s wonderful to have that narrow window of responsibility.”

Her most recent feature film story editing credit is Level 16 by writer-director Danishka Esterhazy. The sci-fi film is in theatres now.

A fan of festivals, Montagu is looking forward to sharing her passion at the Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival.

“Festivals are a good catalyst for creativity,” she says, noting her workshop will provide the “nuts and bolts” of screenwriting and show those with a perhaps latent talent that they can actually make a living doing it. “It’s about how can I take my creativity and pour it into making a living.”

Montagu, who grew up in a small town in Suffolk, England, describes taking her workshops to smaller towns where people don’t have the opportunity to meet screenwriters as giving back to the kid she once was.

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“To whoever might think I wonder if that’s for me, I’m coming. I am coming to them,” she laughs.

The Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival, a festival for readers and writers, takes place at the Prestige Harbourfront Resort and Okanagan College from May 10 to 12.

Sessions will include both skill development workshops and open forums with authors based on questions and answers in a friendly and intimate setting. The Friday night Café Lit offers the opportunity to hear world-class presenters read from their work and is open to the public. After an exciting days of workshops, a Saturday night gala is a time to celebrate. Go to https://wordonthelakewritersfestival.com for detailed information about the festival and to register.


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