Israeli exchange program brings polished Netflix show screenwriter to Rutgers
The head writer of Netflix series "Fauda," Moshe Zonder, is teaching a course called “Screenwriters for Television” at Rutgers this semester.
The series, a political thriller that follows both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, originally premiered on Isreali TV and has been made into a Netflix series that was recently renewed for its third season.
Zonder, a professional screenwriter, is visiting Rutgers through sponsorship from the Schusterman Visiting Israeli Artists Program, which is a program that brings Israeli artists from various disciplines to North American colleges to foster interaction between Israeli artists and the local community through classes, lectures and more, according to its website.
“(It) is a wonderful and generous program,” Zonder said. “It enables Israeli artists from various fields, such as classical music, choreography, theater, film, television, etc., to bring their creative fruits to the United States, to represent and distribute the Israeli artistic voice.”
Zonder, who began screenwriting during his first year of studying to be a director of film and television, said that writing is his passion.
“I never wait for inspiration. I don’t believe in it …” he said of his writing process. “Writing is rewriting and writing something good is like spinning a gold key, so it's clear to me I just have to write and write and write, and maybe something will come out of it eventually.”
When writing for characters, Zonder said he writes full biographies to get to know them as much as possible and then choose what decisions they would make.
Zonder said that following his own successes in screenwriting, he now teaches his students that they will know better what they did right or wrong once their script is carried out. But, getting a script to screen is not a quick and easy process.
“In 2010, an Israeli production company named ‘Kastina’ met me with Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff, the creators of the series,” he said of the show’s beginnings. “They were completely inexperienced in screenwriting but had a great idea for a TV series. We quickly found a common language.”
Zonder said his advice to students looking to pursue a career in any type of media is to never drop their head down after getting a negative answer to their work, and never think they are not good enough.
He said if he had not continued to pursue his screenplay for "Fauda," he would not be in the position he is now, and that the success of the series has led to more opportunities, as well.
“We did not believe then and I still find it hard to believe now how successful ‘Fauda’ became,” he said. “It was very difficult at first to find an Israeli broadcasting company that wanted it. They may have wanted it, but they were afraid.”
Editor's Note: This article has been updated to better reflect the essence of the Visiting Israeli Artists Program.
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