Screenwriter Salman Aristo, left, and story editor Arief Ash Shiddiq launch their screenwriting guide book 'Kelas Skenario' (Screenwriting Class) at Galeri Indonesia Kaya in Jakarta on Feb. 21. (JG Photo/Dhania Sarahtika)

New Book to End Dearth of Screenwriters in Indonesia


MARCH 02, 2018

Jakarta. Seasoned screenwriter Salman Aristo and story editor Arief Ash Shiddiq have teamed up to write a guide book for aspiring screenwriters called "Kelas Skenario," or "Screenwriting Class," which they say will help you turn ideas into a sellable screenplay.

Salman started his career as a screenwriter in 2004, and has written the box-office hits "Laskar Pelangi," "Garuda di Dadaku" and "Sang Penari." He also won the Citra Award for original screenplay for "Athirah" in 2016.

Arief is a story editor – a less well-known profession – whose role in a film production is to bring the story to life and supervise it until completion. He has worked on "Habibie & Ainun," "Marmut Merah Jambu" and "Posesif."

The book was launched on Feb. 21 at Galeri Indonesia Kaya in Jakarta.

Kelas Skenario is a step-by-step guide on how to write a screenplay from scratch, starting with the premise of a story and a sketch of the main characters. It also tells you how to write a movie treatment and then the full script.

Actress Maudy Koesnaedi, who attended the book launch, said a good script is often the first reason why an actor takes on a role.

Salman's wife and also award-winning screenwriter Gina S. Noer, said scriptwriters must have a clear vision on where they want to take their stories to.

"Being a good writer is not enough... you've also got to be business-smart," she said.

"You need experience to get better. You need depth, maturity, vision and you need to collaborate," said the winner of the Citra Award for Best Adapted Screenplay (shared with co-writer Ifan ismail) for "Habibie & Ainun" in 2012.

Dearth of Screenwriters

Salman is also the head of the screenwriters association, Indonesian Writers for the Screen (Pilar). He lamented the fact that the group so far only has around 80 members.

"But we know of around 200 screenwriters Indonesia," he said.

That number may not still be enough to sustain the fast-growing local film industry, though it's a far cry from when Salman started out. Back then, there were only 10 pro scriptwriters in the whole of Indonesia and he used to write six scripts a year.

The head of Indonesia's Film Development Center (Pusbang Film) Maman Wijaya, who also attended the book launch, said the dearth of screenwriters in the country can be overcome if the Education and Culture Ministry's plan to establish a film-focused vocational school is realized.

Arief said his hope is that screenwriting gets more recognition as an art form and is enjoyed on its own, even after the movie is released.

"It would be great if they can be released in book form and enjoyed like novels," he said.