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Heather Shreve Triumphs as Best Writer: Unveiling the Artistry Behind 'The Bamboo Wife' in Exclusive

As we celebrate the art of storytelling, the spotlight turns to Heather Shreve, a maestro of words and the brilliant mind behind the acclaimed screenplay 'The Bamboo Wife.' Recognized as the Best Writer, Shreve beckons us into the heart of her creative realm in this exclusive interview. Get ready to unravel the mysteries behind 'The Bamboo Wife' as Shreve shares the inspirations, challenges, and the sheer craftsmanship that breathed life into this award-winning narrative.



American Dream Screen : Every screenplay has a unique journey from concept to completion. Can you take us through the moment or experience that ignited the spark for this story, and how it evolved into the screenplay we see today?


Heather Shreve : The Bamboo Wife started off as The Colonel 's Wife ( as my grandparents met on Oahu in 1923).


My grandfather was stationed there from 1921 to 1925 in coastal artillery/defense, but I changed their characters and escalated the whole story shortly after that--- their characters were far too constricting for the story I wanted to tell.


American Dream Screen : Screenwriting allows for creative exploration. Can you share an instance where the narrative took an unexpected turn during the writing process, and how did this spontaneous development contribute to the depth of your screenplay?


Heather Shreve : After I went deeper into the spy aspect of the story, (and because I'm familiar with Japanese culture/painting in sumi ink)

I quickly added the underlying message : if you only see the world in black and white you miss the beauty of the gray, as Sumi artwork maintains you can see all the colors in the shades of ink. Sumi e triad composition also gave me a framework for the protagonists arc: The Guest, The Host, the Servant… arranged for strength and equilibrium.


American Dream Screen : Collaboration is integral in bringing a screenplay to life on screen. Could you share a memorable experience of working with a director, producer, or actor, and how their input influenced and enriched the script?


Heather Shreve : In late 2022 the producers at Masterpiece/WGBH Boston read my script the Riddle, the pilot for Bamboo Wife. One of their comments really stuck with me

And said: “You can just feel the depth of this show.” That inspired me to maintain my wisdom and Eastern inspired messages.


American Dream Screen : Dialogue is a powerful tool in screenwriting. How did you craft the distinctive voices of your characters, and can you share a line or moment from your screenplay that you are particularly proud of?


Heather Shreve : Because I come from an Army family, concocting the officers’ voices was not hard.

And once I defined the outrageousness of the 1920s, those characters, and their voices, also came easily.


One scene/turning point I'm particularly proud of-- the crux of the whole show is as follows: ( The Japanese used the code word ‘Gardeners’ in newspapers to refer to themselves.)


( Juni: Nisei servant, Jillian: Protagonist)


A wide-eyed Jillian examines Juni, takes a step back.



JUNI


You garden, Miss Pace?



JILLIAN


(nervous, unsure)


No...not really--



JUNI


Maybe, you try?



Juni places clippers on a rose stem---they lock eyes.



JUNI


Cut here, she flourishes. Cut wrong, she may never return.



JILLIAN


(spooked)


I...I better get back.



Jillian turns away---he CLIPS a stem.



JUNI


(eerie tone)


Bamboo though--



Jillian freezes.



JUNI


Strong, like Japanese. Hacked to the ground, it always comes back.



JILLIAN


I have to go...



JUNI


Where?



JILLIAN


(facing him)


Anywhere...I can be like bamboo. I've already been--



JUNI


(slight smirk)


Cut?



JILLIAN


Left to wither.



JUNI


Then it's your time, Miss Pace.


Eyes and ears open, experience the island.



JILLIAN


I will.


American Dream Screen : The life of a screenwriter can be filled with highs and lows. Can you describe a moment of doubt or a challenging period during the writing process, and what strategies did you use to overcome these obstacles and keep your creative spirit alive?


Heather Shreve : I would say 2023 has been the challenging year as the WGA strike hit and I no longer could pitch the project.

But it gave me some time to look at it again and make it even more international. Now it has 50% British actors, which is true to Hawaii’s history and the world they're in. My strategy is simple... keep showing up!


American Dream Screen : As you look back on your journey as an independent screenplay writer and the creation of this unique script, what do you feel is the most significant lesson or insight you've gained about the art of storytelling and filmmaking that you would like to share with aspiring writers and filmmakers?


Heather Shreve : Anytime I speak to people or teach a class on story design, I tell them the same thing---there's nothing better than the truth!


You couldn’t concoct the outrageous things that have already happened in history.

... go look at newspapers.com and seek out the worlds and situations to get your inspiration.


Do your due diligence, go high-concept, and be as original as you can! Be YOURSELF!

As Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself. Everyone else has been taken!”


As our conversation with Heather Shreve, the luminary writer of 'The Bamboo Wife,' reaches its finale, the echoes of literary brilliance reverberate. Shreve's mastery in crafting narratives has not only earned her the title of Best Writer but has enriched the tapestry of storytelling. 'The Bamboo Wife' stands tall as a testament to Shreve's ability to weave tales that resonate deeply.


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