Exegesis and screenplay for a film entitled: Olivia's Choice

Chunyan, Ding
David, Hughes
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Master of Communication Studies
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Auckland University of Technology

This screenplay is a fictional story of a Chinese student’s arrival and first encounter with foreign cultures. ‘Olivia’s Choice’ is a story about a student in her early 20’s, who arrives in New Zealand determined to study and launch, what she hopes will be, a successful international career in the fashion industry. Nevertheless, despite her best laid plans, Olivia discovers that New Zealand ‘society’ is very different to what she had been led to believe or that she ever imagined it could be – especially after she meets a Māori student named Haka.

Generically, ‘Olivia’s Choice’ is a contemporary social drama – one that may be read, more specifically, as an Asian student’s rite of passage - where Olivia finds herself torn between the expectations of her widowed and highly traditional father, and the various ‘Western’ temptations afforded by the distance from him.

In opting to write a screenplay and explore the dreams of a typical Chinese student within the dramatic form, I felt the issues surrounding the latest migratory wave – of international students - might appeal to and engage with both, the wider, Asian and Western audiences. Thus, my purpose was evoking various insights into the dreams and vulnerabilities of the young who seek to venture far from their mother country and to immerse themselves within and adopt a foreign culture. I considered such an approach would be a more accessible and effective medium - as opposed to a more traditional thesis - with which to explore and enunciate a variety of, sensitive interpersonal and otherwise potentially ethically problematic issues . My rational has been, given a credible scenario and characters the story, at one level, might realistically and meaningfully resonate, and so affectively engage cross-cultural audiences across a wide demographic. Then, at yet other levels it may also serve to inform and perhaps even entertain while also giving many prospective students a pause for thought.

Combination of collaborative and autonomous visual media writing approach , Contemporary social drama , Global Village , Developing a protagonist , Creative practice and writing , The cross-cultural currents of the New Zealand
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