In the words of Amany Zayed: “I found myself being pulled back to my pen and paper and decided to shift my career.”
With sveeral articles and books published in her name, 28-year-old writer Amany Zayed was starting on her newest book but facing writer’s block. When she came across UN Women’s scriptwriting training, she joined in the hopes of refuelling her creativity, and gained so much more.
“I’ve loved writing from a young age. It was a hobby I was passionate about and always returned to. Even after studying engineering and working as an engineer for four years, I never forgot my passion. After becoming a mother, I stopped working for several years. When I was able to start working again, I found myself being pulled back to my pen and paper and decided to shift my career.
I began writing professionally and published articles in several magazines and websites. I even published my very first book and collaborated with other authors on another book.
As I was planning to start writing my newest book, I faced writer’s block and was struggling to get anything down on paper. That’s when I learned about UN Women’s scriptwriting training. Since I also love writing and cinema, I thought it would be an excellent opportunity for me to learn something new and get my creative juices flowing again.
During the training, I learned everything about scriptwriting from scratch, starting with brainstorming for new ideas, developing characters, structuring scripts and the entire writing process. I was dazzled by the diverse background of the other trainees and their tremendous skills. Each participant was unique, and each had her own story. There were young trainees who’d just graduated from college, mothers and even women from different professions, such as pharmacists, engineers and writers – career-shifters, like me.
Through this unique group of women, I started seeing things from different perspectives that I hadn’t considered before. I even began exploring new topics that had never crossed my mind, such as the experiences and stories of the elderly, as well as animal rights.
My experience was enriched tremendously by joining the documentary competition, where I was the scriptwriter and also took on the role of director, due to an unexpected challenge during the shooting phase. I hadn’t contributed to a video production before, so I felt that such an experience added a new technical skill to my portfolio. I was very proud of our team’s effort, and I was even more thrilled when we won second place and witnessed the audience’s positive reaction while watching our documentary. After this experience, I received a job offer to work on a documentary about sports.
Although I was already a published writer, I learned a lot from the training and it helped me develop new skills while giving me the boost of creativity and exposure to new ideas I needed to move forward in my career as an author, and now scriptwriter as well.
Currently, my plan is to focus on utilizing all the new skills and ideas I learned to start writing my new book, and I’m hoping to get it published soon. As the sky should be our limit, I’m also working on developing the script for a children’s movie that highlights our Egyptian identity. Currently, I’m brainstorming ideas for my movie, and whenever there is a chance, I pitch my ideas to production companies. I’m sure that one day, my dream will come true.”
The scriptwriting training that Amany joined falls within a wider set of trainings on creative industries delivered by Arascope for media production in cooperation with Media-Arts for Development (MADEV) including photography, directing, copywriting, editing and coloring.
The activity comes within the framework of the regional joint programme “Promoting Productive Employment and Decent Work for Women in Egypt, Jordan, and Palestine,” implemented by UN Women and the International Labor Organization (ILO), in partnership with the National Council for Women and the Ministry of Manpower, with the support of the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida).
Through this activity, internship opportunities were offered to 100 distinguished women trainees. In addition, teams of selected 30 trainees took part in a documentary competition, which resulted in the production of three women-led documentaries that focused on societal stories portrayed through women’s eyes. The documentaries have been submitted for participation at the upcoming edition of Aswan International Women Film Festival.