Award-winning screenwriter Xi Ren takes some time away from writing for an interview with INFLUX Magazine

by Gordon Shelly

Xi Ren was born and raised in Beijing, China, and has been living in the United States since she was 15, where she has also been in pursuit of her ongoing education in English as a Second Language. She has been writing since she was a little girl. According to Ren, it was a combination of luck and destiny that led her to pursue a career in writing.

She is a multi-award-winning screenwriter and has been in pursuit of her profession having recently completed graduate school as well. We were thrilled to have Xi Ren share some insight into her career, life, writing process, and what to expect next.

INFLUX: What are you currently working on that you can share with us?

XI REN: I will write another feature script. The working title is “Don’t Make Autumn Fall.” It’s a script exposing the struggle and loss of the Chinese American community. [The] Chinese American community suffers from discrimination uniquely and quietly, and I want the audience to empathize and understand our immigration pain. There are very few movies that talk about this issue, and there are very few people who know about this issue either. Many of us lose ourselves, values, and identities when trying to fit in or blend in with American society. America is a giant melting pot, but our happiness and pride sometimes are the things that get burned.

INFLUX: Your screenplay “Assassination of President Duke” was honored with the Grand Jury Award for Best Pilot at the New York International Film Awards. Can you tell us more about this project?

XI REN: It’s a screenplay [that] features dual protagonists and dual storylines. The first storyline in 2020 is about a intersex girl who tries to escape her abusive family in Wuhan during COVID martial law. Another storyline is that the Diamond Princess becomes a floating prison that no one is allowed to leave, and people die in vain because of the bad calls made by government officials and the cruise owner and company. The second protagonist on the ship falls in love with a man without knowing their harsh density destroyed by COVID. Faith and resilience lose their functions, but the peace and kindness in the main characters’ hearts are the only redemptions. Even the second lead dies from COVID-19 on the ship, but she goes to heaven with no regret since she believes women like her will be freed by her God. The intersex girl from Wuhan is freed in inner peace.

INFLUX: You mentioned that three of your screenplays have one awards. Is there one of these screenplays that you find the most satisfying?

Xi Ren: My most satisfying script is “Assassination of President Duke.”

NOTE: Xi Ren shared the following comment from Michael Curtis Johnson, the Department Chair of Cinematic Arts and Theatre at the University of North Alabama and the Co-chair of George Lindsey UNA Film Festival:

“Your work truly stood out in a field of exceptionally talented writers. Your American dystopian alternative reality social thriller presents a very unique vision, like Philip K. Dick’s “Man in the High Castle” … We want you to know how much we appreciate and commend your work. The potential for your screenplay to be produced in the future is something we are genuinely excited about. We believe that your story has all the makings of a successful film and would be a valuable addition to the world of cinema.”

INFLUX: What are you currently working on beyond “Don’t Make Autumn Fall?” What’s next for Xi Ren?

XI REN: I’m writing a feature script. The working title is “Superhuman.” It is an action and suspense movie and will be finished in a week. Superhuman is one of my most exciting works because it has many twists and turns. It’s a plane hijack story that includes a lot of interesting, complicated, and suspicious characters, and the viewers have to guess who the perpetrator is and their motive. Once it’s finished, I will also submit it to film festivals, hoping for more significant wins.

INFLUX: Your screenplay seem to be very character driven. Can you tell us about your approach to crafting compelling characters in your screenwriting?

XI REN: Characters and their development are the most essential part of a script. If the characters are not three-dimensional, the script won’t be vivid. When I develop the characters, I always write down a character sheet including [the] questions: Who do my characters love? What do my characters hate? What do my characters want? What are my characters most afraid of? What do my characters regret the most? What troubles my characters? What would make my characters willing to do anything? All those questions help me to write real, down-to-earth, logical, and believable characters. I use much time to craft the plot and roles before I start writing a script, which is a perfect way to avoid plot holes and contradictions and create a unique world. The last strategy for screenwriting is to be objective and meticulous about every plot and ensure there are no logic bumps.

INFLUX: Where do you find your inspiration as a writer?

XI REN: I always believe films and media are ways to educate and bring understanding and sympathy to the audience, our environment, and life. A script is not just what I want to say but what the world needs to hear. This thought keeps me going and creating.

INFLUX: Lastly, what awards have you won with your screenwriting?

“Assassination of President Duke” has won the following:

  • International Screenwriting Competition, Winner for Best Feature Script, January 2024.
  • Los Angeles Film Awards, Winner for Best Thriller Screenplay, December 2023.
  • New York International Film Awards, Grand Jury Award for Best Pilot Script, May 2023.
  • International Film & Script Festival New Lotus, Winner for Best Pilot Script, January 2024.

“David Duke and the AAA” has won the following:

  •  Beyond the Curve International Film Festival, Winner for Best Pilot Script, December 2023.

Find Xi Ren on IMDB