Introducing Hauenstein, Scriptwriter Stuart Pigott

Some strange noises – at first barely audible and impossible to identify – came from behind the heavy curtains. For some time I was frozen to the spot, unsure not only what to do, but if I should do anything. But the noises got louder and suddenly there was no alternative, but to yank back the curtain and see what was behind it.

Just over three years ago I started writing the script of a thriller called Hauenstein. Now that the Berlin-based film producer Alexander van Dülmen and film director Ziska Riemann are my partners in this venture, and together we are working to realize Hauenstein as a 6 episode streaming series, so this project demands to be properly presented. Apart from everything else, it means that I am now „officially“ a scriptwriter / screenwriter as well as a journalist. With that this blog, that long neglected because of the pressure of work, begins to take a decisive new direction. 

No doubt, this will come as a surprise to those people who have followed my journalistic work, some of them for many years, or even decades. However, this new project has deep roots. It was the combination of my 60th birthday and the Covid-19 crisis that pushed me to start scriptwriting, but the figure of Hauenstein goes back more than a quarter of a century. More about his origins will follow. My first attempt to write his story in early 2001 was an abject failure, because back then I lacked any of the skills necessary to write a film or TV script. 

I began acquiring that knowledge after I moved from Berlin to New York City at the end of 2012, although it took all four of my NYC years to get a firm grip on the basic principals of storytelling. I was surprised to find that a great many of the books and films I loved complied with those principals, even when the authors were unfamiliar with them.

I have a lot of sympathy with those scriptwriters and authors who find the idea that there are „rules“ for what they do intimidating or constricting. But, rules are there not only to be followed, but also broken and twisted. For example, as the Nouvelle Vague film director Jean-Luc Goddard famously said, „A story should have beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order.“ He made that work very well in his films, which confirms that he knew exactly what he was talking about. 

I prefer the beginning, the middle and in the end in that order, because I think „one thing leads to another“ is how most of us experience life most of the time. I found the discovery that there is a logic to storytelling empowering, rather than limiting or inhibiting. However, I must point out how this wonderful revelation was allied to the painful realization that most of what I had written before was fundamentally flawed. The best case scenario for my writing pre-2012 was that I got lucky and a good instinct enabled me to tell a journalistic story in a way that made it more or less compelling. But those were rare exceptions to the rule. Mostly, my stories relating to wine were fuzzy at the beginning and in the middle, then they fizzled at the end.

I think it’s not going too far to say that coming to a basic understanding of story structure and dynamics was a new beginning for me. This new story of Stuart Pigott the scriptwriter has now reached the middle section, and its turning point is quite possibly approaching. Getting to know Alexander van Dülmen was a decisive moment, after which I had no doubt that one way or another Hauenstein, and the other stories I am developing, would come to fruition. 

I will be writing more about all of this here during the coming weeks and months, not just reporting on the progress the Alexander van Dülmen, Ziska Riemann and I make with the Hauenstein project. I will also delve into the background  of my – love it or hate it – extraordinary story. Although it is very much part of our Zeitgeist, it has ancient roots. That might seem like a far-reaching claim to make, but let me show you why I think it is entirely realistic. I will also describe how my lifelong obsession with film caused me to give the story of Hauenstein its totally distinctive form. Watch this space!

PS I am not abandoning wine journalism,, FINE magazine or the other publications and platforms where my journalistic work appears. Please don’t believe anyone who tells you that I am! It is a very German myth that each person is, and can only be, one thing.  

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