MFA Screenwriting student’s film to premiere at Atlanta Film Festival

A clapperboard about to be clapped on a movie set. The clapperboard has Win Marks' name on it.
Win Marks’ “Do You Say What You Mean?” will screen at Atlanta’s Plaza Theatre at 6:45 p.m. on April 30. (Photo: Mike Ingenito)

MFA Screenwriting student’s film to premiere at Atlanta Film Festival

April 24, 2024

It was nearly three years ago that Win Marks, a first-year MFA student, started working on “Do You Say What You Mean?” Now, the Atlanta local’s film is set to debut in his home festival. 

Do You Say What You Mean?” follows a young couple in love. Their relationship story is told in snapshots as they attempt to build a life together. But the more they try, the more their relationship unravels. 

“It means a lot to have it premiere at the Atlanta Film Festival,” said Marks, who is on the screenwriting track of Grady College’s Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts in Narrative Media Writing program. “This city has become a great film city.”

Marks’ film is crafted so that viewers aren’t aware of how much time has passed between scenes, leaving it up to the audience to pick up on context clues to determine the progression of the characters’ relationship. 

“You’re trying to figure out, is this a good decision, or is this a bad decision? Are they moving too fast? Too slow? You really don’t know,” Marks explained. “As things start to go south, you start to wonder: If they would’ve made a different decision, would that have helped their relationship or not?”

“I think this movie is about things that people deal with every day — in their own relationships and in their friends’ relationships,” Marks added. 

Win Marks (left) on set with cinematographer Noah Clement.
Win Marks (left) on set with cinematographer Noah Clement. (Photo: Mike Ingenito)

While creating the film, Marks and his team didn’t use a conventional script. They started with an outline of every scene, detailing what each scene should feel like tonally and the general concepts for what the actors should be doing, but there were no set lines. 

The first two or three takes of every scene would consist of Marks and the actors figuring out exactly what the characters say and do, and takes four, five and six would be shooting the finished scene. 

“The goal was to set up a fictional world with fictional characters and then shoot it like a documentary,” Marks said about his process. “It gives a real sense of reality and groundedness to the movie that is unique.”

Although Marks started working on “Do You Say What You Mean?” in 2021, he gives significant credit to his mentor in the MFA program, filmmaker Ramin Serry, for helping him polish the film and turn it into something capable of being picked up by the Atlanta Film Festival. Serry was one the first people to view the film and provide notes. 

“Ramin was so specific that it really helped lift the movie to another level and helped me see what was working and what wasn’t,” Marks said. “Ramin was essential to the movie becoming what it is.”

Marks also credits his peers in the program. 

“In the screenwriting program I am surrounded by a lot of great writers and filmmakers,” he explained. “I screened an early cut for them and was able to improve the movie a lot based on their feedback.”

“Do You Say What You Mean?” will premiere at Atlanta’s Plaza Theatre on Tuesday, April 30, at 6:45 p.m. During the festival, the film will also be available to view online for those who purchase festival tickets. 

Tickets are available here.

Author: Jackson Schroeder,