The last time I went to teach in Sweden it was the dead of winter. It was dark when I arose in my hotel in Visby, a cobblestoned, walled city in Gotland, and soon dark when I was done with the day's classes. This time, toward the end of May, it was sunny every day and well into the evening. Wildflowers were blooming, and when I got my ride from Visby to the School from Arvid Unsgaard, a pixie spirit in full-grown male form who runs the writing side of the School's program, we passed fields of brilliant yellow amidst the green.
The School was just getting its act together when I came there 2 years ago. In the time since, Arvid and his colleagues have worked wonders. My new students were scarily smart, and fearless about writing and rewriting in a way that could kick some of my Los Angeles students' butts. While schooling them in a 2-year program, Arvid has been importing occasional American screenwriters/instructors like me to teach, in person and through web-cam classes, leaving the students savvy about the craft and business of writing and insatiable for more information.
There are things the Swedes don't understand about present-day Hollywood that proved a challenge to explain, but that's not surprising. I've been working in the studio system for 22 years and I still can't tell you exactly what it is that a studio executive does. But if there's anything specifically "Swedish" about these young writers' sensibilities, it's that that they seem singularly unafraid to pursue their particular visions on the screenplay page, regardless of whatever rules, regulations, and obstacles the industry status quo is ready to put in their way.
I won't betray confidences by divulging the specifics of just how wackily weird some of their scripts are, so you'll have to take my word for it: a few of these screenwriters may be just talented and crazy enough to get somewhere with their work. And indeed, plans are afoot to get the writing and production wings of the School to collaborate on a TV series for Swedish public TV, and after that... sky's the limit, and the sky in these Northern countries is vast.
At any rate, this post is mainly an excuse to put up all these photos of “my” Swedish screenwriters from the School. That’s Amanda, Matilda, Silvia, Thabo, Martin, Hugo, Amanda, Camilla, Anya, Kalle, Rob, and Arvid. I like to look at them. They give me hope.