Lesley Krueger is a screenwriter and novelist, raised in Vancouver and now living in Toronto. As a filmmaker, she has written everything from Hollywood movies through international co-pros to tiny-budget short films, script-doctoring Silent Hill from director Christophe Gans, writing the award-winning short How to Keep Your Day Job from director Sean Frewer, and story editing features like writer/director Karen Lam‘s horror film, Stained. Lesley is the author of six books. Her new novel is Mad Richard, which the Globe and Mail calls “alive with wit and rebellion.” She works as a screenwriting mentor at the Canadian Film Centre in Toronto. In 2015 Lesley mentored From Our Dark Side winner Gloria Ui Young Kim on her story Deception, in 2016 she worked with Jennifer Krukowski, and she joined again for Season 3 to consult with Samantha Loney on her project Married to Murder.
Lesley spoke with us about genre storytelling:
Why is genre important?
Genre is primal, exploring core emotions. I think the best genre films take us deep into ourselves, into our fears and obsessions and sometimes our hopes — which can be redemptive, false or deceptive — while providing insight and catharsis along the way. Sometimes I think art is obsession; the two are inextricable. And genre knows all about that.
Why are you involved in this contest?
I love being a sounding board for emerging artists. I hope I can provide help to people starting out in their careers, and I find it wonderfully refreshing to meet new people. It’s always a two-way street. I feel I get as much as I give in initiatives like this, and what’s not to like about that?
Who are some of the filmmakers and artists who inspire you?
As a screenwriter and novelist, I’m a big admirer of the director Agnieszka Holland, who not only directed the classic Europa, Europa, but key episodes of The Wire and House of Cards as well as the recent film In Darkness, an Oscar nominee about Jews hidden in the sewers of Poland during the Second World War — an incredible range of material. Writers I admire range from Victorians like George Eliot and Charles Dickens (well, some Dickens), through present-day screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (I loved his new film Anomalisa) to the modern Dickensian novelist Kate Atkinson, director Steve McQueen‘s fabulous films (especially Hunger, which he wrote), novelist Jhumpa Lahiri, the incomparable Alice Munro and the unclassifiable Karl Ove Knausgård.
What can mentees expect when working with a story editor like you?
I like to try to help writers identify the core of their story and its central theme, which can often elude all of us when we start a project. What is your story about? Really and truly? Why is it important? To you; to us, your audience. Then we discuss how to get there, as I both analyze what I see on the page and ask a series of questions that I hope will help the writer achieve focus.
Thank you for the conversation!
Q&A by Katja De Bock
Find out more about Lesley on her website www.lesleykrueger.com.