Meet Danni Zhang, Screenwriting student at the University of Melbourne
Bachelor of Fine Arts (Screenwriting) student Danni Zhang talks about her run-in with Mr. Feminism, and what excites her about a career in screenwriting.
What’s something you’ve been excited about recently?
I recently had the joy of being in the writers’ room with four incredibly bold and funny writers writing a five-episode web series. The show is titled Mr. Feminism and it is a narrative comedy set in the style of Basil Fawlty meets Fleabag.
It chronicles the adventures of a young, charismatic university academic who is a male feminist and who struggles to prove the authenticity of his feminist beliefs to his students and female family. Mr Feminism recently completed shooting and is currently in post-production.
To be in the writers’ room plotting, canvassing ideas, drafting, and redrafting scripts was a thrill for me and a profound experience. We were immersed in the complete joy of character and story design from start to finish.
It was a great reflection of what life might be like in a high-octane, fast-paced environment, writing for a serial show. Ideas were tossed around, binned, then made better. It confirmed my love for writing and the electrifying nature of collaboration and uniting on a single vision.
If this is what life is like for a writer, sign me up. I’m ecstatic that I have my foot in the right door.
Why did you choose to screenwriting?
I love the way audiences are engaged and taken on a ride through the power of storytelling. I include myself in this. That is the power of television and the power of cinema.
The play of words and the design of story is the way I love to be involved in shaping a cinematic experience. It all starts with the page, but it doesn’t end there. What this course has taught me is the art of collaboration. I have witnessed the way that words come to life in the company of directors, cinematographers, and other creatives who are as passionate and dedicated to visual storytelling as I am. What we write is not written to be read but written to be seen. I would not study anywhere else; it’s the hub of creativity in the heart of a beautiful city.
Do you have a particular highlight from your time here so far?
My time here has exceeded my expectations. The Faculty are incredibly supportive and all expert industry practitioners.. They’re funny, warm and tell you like it is.
What do you wish you’d known before starting your course?
Don’t be afraid. Be fearless and open with your opportunities, everyone is individual in their voice and do not feel pressure to be anyone other than yourself. If you feel a little directionless or green at the start, don’t worry – you will find your voice in your own time and with the support of great teachers and classmates around you.
What do you envisage as your dream career?
I have an open mind. Comedy, thriller, anti-heroes and satires are all stamped in my heart. It would be a joy to be involved in any of them, wherever my path takes me.
My ultimate dream is to work in television writing for a show, running a show and then hopefully making a transition into film if I’m fortunate enough to.