Updated: Dec 5, 2019
For many screenwriters, winning awards, getting your work read, or even breaking into Hollywood is the dream. These are no easy tasks to say the least. Now imagine trying to do that when you are from across the world. Anthony is a native screenwriter from Ghana, and he knows exactly what the challenges are he faces and is prepared to meet them head on. He has made incredible strides to deepen his mastery of the craft and also reach a broader audience with his writing. Now he is beginning to reap the rewards of his hard work. Which is why I am excited to introduce you to this screenwriter.
This is Anthony Osarfo…
I’m a Ghanaian by birth, born in the 80s. A Sagittarius. I’ve been an art/entertainment journalist for over a decade – written for three prominent entertainment newspapers, a magazine, and several online portals.
Professionally, I’ve been writing scripts since 2009 and have a knack for horror, thriller, suspense, and period piece feature and short screenplay writing. In my wildest ambition, I want to be counted among the best horror/thriller scriptwriters Hollywood has ever had.
Q: How did you stumble upon screenwriting?
My desire to tell stories through film led me into scriptwriting. I’m not into novel or playwriting. I love visual storytelling.
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Q: Who/what inspired you into taking this path?
No particular thing per se. It’s just the desire to have stories that emanates from my sub-conscious mind told or shared with others to entertain, provoke minds, and to educate.
Q: Who was the first person who believed in you?
It’s my old school mate, Prince Ntim. I once wrote a short story (somewhere 2009) and asked him to read and share his sincere thoughts with me.
He visited me at home, sat before my computer, opened the file (script) and after reading, smiled broadly at me. According to him, he was thrilled at how visually alluring and emotion laden the story was.
He then advised me to continue writing stories because he believes I’m a naturally born storyteller. He even took my mind back to our high school days when an essay I wrote, was adjudged the overall best manuscript by our teacher. I trust Prince’s candor on issues, so his words boosted my confidence and urged me on to continue writing, which I’ve been doing till date.
My wife, Janet Braun, has been phenomenal on this journey. Her patience, encouragement, and understanding gives me the sound mind I require to conceive story ideas. She inspires my creativity a great deal.
Q: When was the moment you knew you wanted to be a screenwriter?
I mean this with no arrogance or false-ego but it was when I realized I have stories that could make better movies than some already produced ones.
Q: How do you define success for yourself?
Where others don’t believe in me about something I’m doing but I silently take the challenge and show them my achievements later on.
Q: Give us a typical day in your life:
Are you an Early Bird or a Night Owl? A Night Owl. Call me Mr. Nocturnal. In fact, I sleep around 2AM or 3AM every blessed day. I type my scripts from 9AM till that time in the morning, each day.
Do you have a morning routine or ritual? Yeah. I’m a Hare Krsna devotee, so I chant our prescribed mantra. Though the prescribed-rounds is sixteen, I try to chant a few rounds on days I’m late for work or an assignment. Chanting and meditating is a must for the morning, for me.
What’s for lunch? Anything vegetarian goes. I’m a total vegetarian –no meat, fish, or eggs. I eat waakye, fufu, banku, jollof, and any African dish. Are you lost? Well let me keep it simple, I take only vegetarian diets for lunch.
Do you have a pre-bed ritual? No. I just fall on the bed and rest my bones in peace.
How do you define a successful day? To be alive and healthy.
Q: What’s been the most important skill you've developed on your path to screenwriting?
Write and rewriting - endurance, and networking with other creatives.
Q: What’s been the greatest challenge in your writing so far?
A lot. Some may sound absurd yet it’s my reality, my experience. The greatest has to do with me being an African scriptwriter, living in Ghana – West Africa, yet harnessing a passion to penetrate Hollywood with my African stories or stories told from an African perspective.
It just didn’t or hasn’t worked for me, at least for now. All contests and coverage service providers I sent my African screenplay to, gave me feedback that made me realize they don’t understand, can’t visualize, or relate to the story and its associated culture, setting, and orientation.
I’ve therefore decided to shelve all my African stories for now, though I do know of African stories or movies storied on the back of African history and culture like: ‘Coming to America’ – ’12 Years A Slave’ --- ‘Black Panther’ --- ‘The Lion King’ – ‘Beast of No Nation’ -- among others which have been box office hits.
Another big challenge has to do with me trying to please Hollywood readers (the gatekeepers as they are termed by some scriptwriters) by changing my British English to American English.
In fact, Africans do have our ‘own-way’ of constructing the Queen’s language (just as Americans have their lingos), but I’ve had to compromise that to enable me penetrate Hollywood, and by extension, the global audience space. My writing coach and coverage providers, Annie Morgan and Nick Clement, and I, always have fun discussing this.
From changing of tyre to tire, washroom to bathroom, boot to trunk, windscreen to windshield, cheque to check, bonnet to hood, filling/petrol station to gas station – I can go on and on and on…My wife in USA always teases me and says, You may have to switch totally to American English when you finally relocate here - to enable you to break through with your scripts. Americans believe and always stand by their ‘own.’ Based on my experience, I agree with her.
I’ve also read similar experiences (on social media writing groups) from one or two UK scriptwriters and scriptwriters who write British English; so this challenge can’t be dismissed.
And finally, my not-personal-familiarity with the American way of life, systems, laws, norms, psychology, orientations, etc. You can easily say with the advancement in technology this shouldn’t be a challenge, but I say, experience is the best teacher. Lol.
But in all, I’m a very determined person. I’ve got strong drive for anything I love to pursue and achieve or attain. I’m a go-getter. I believe there’s always a way out.
Q: What’s been the greatest reward in the choices you've made?
Getting a few laurels here and there – my horror and thriller feature scripts selected for the Oregon Scream Week Horror Film Festival, placed in FINALS of Hollywood Blood Horror Festival, FINALS, Honorable Mention - Creepy Tree Film Festival, Top 100 Hot Scripts - Capital Fund Screenplay Competition, all this year (2019) plus, the privilege of connecting with some notable screenwriting gurus, like Geoffrey!
Q: What do you want to learn from a community of your peers?
New voices, unique writing skills, from diverse cultures and nationality.