Where do you live (City, State, or Country)? The great and exciting city of Miami, Florida.
I live in Melbourne, Australia which has a reputation for having three seasons in a day.
Your script stood out among hundreds of others. What was the inspiration for your story and why did you write a script instead of a short story or a novel?
I’ve always had an interest in human rights and real-world issues and my story is about a very little-known area of the world which is undergoing tremendous upheaval that is rarely reported in the media.Why a short film? Films have mass appeal across diverse audiences. They have a way of connecting with audiences emotionally in an immediate and visceral way. The written word/short story or novel can create that impact too but films hit you with a raw visual that you can’t avoid. A movie is not anchored to imagination in the way that a literary narrative invokes. Plus, not everyone is a reader but – everyone goes to the movies - and the movies come to us. In this new millennium, everything is absorbed and experienced through the visual/digital media; it’s accessible, ubiquitous and very much “here and now”.
How long did it take you to write your script...and what is your writing process? Do you outline...use index cards...white board...or just start with FADE IN?
For my short film screenplay, I spent a lot of time distilling the narrative in my head, seeing it in my head, and then writing/plotting out the actual structure of the script on paper – or my laptop. I’d actually written the bulk of the story a few months ago and revisited it with fresh ideas. It took me about two weeks after that and also a good deal of researching and consulting with people who could speak to its authenticity. I used the digital index cards that come with my writing package (Final Draft), Using index cards makes things so much easier as it allows me to move scenes around; they give me a bird’s-eye view of the entire storY. I don’t have any set number of pages that I write each day; it’s very much an organic process with me. For my feature, I focused on the treatment and nutted out everything in it before morphing it into the script. The treatment was my big blueprint and took one year to write and the script – 6 months (working weekends and some weeknights).
What is your ultimate ambition as a writer?
I would love to get representation, (literary manager, an agent) and become a successful writer - churning out screenplays on a wide range of subjects – and seeing them on the big (and little) screen.
Was your entry at The Wiki Screenplay Contest a full script or “the first ten pages”? Why did you make that choice?
I had two entries but for my Feature, I submitted the first 10 pages. I’d finished the entire screenplay but I wanted feedback on the opening scenes as I did feel like much of the action or conflict in the story came much later in the narrative. So I am eternally thankful for the advice and feedback I received.
What’s your all-time favorite movie or television show...and why?
I don’t have an all-time favourite because comparing them can be like comparing apples with oranges.
I loved The Piano because it is so original – a gothic piece set in a time period and in a country that we don’t get to see much in the movies. Jane Campion can be hit and miss but I cannot think of anything else that compares with The Piano.
Same with Power of the Dog which is a gothic Western - of all things. It is so powerful in its subtext which is menacing and sinister. (I don’t think I’ll ever listen to a banjo the same way again!).
For thrills, laid-back entertainment and special effects, I loved ET, Aliens and Close Encounters.
For exceptional dialogue and off-the-wall concepts, you can’t go past the 90s TV series called Northern Exposure and the mindbenders from Chris Nolan. Other favourites are anything by Woody Allen, Peter Weir and some of Terence Malick’s The Thin Red Line (not your average war movie and a hugely underrated masterpiece).
What advice do you have for writers hoping to win a contest or place as a finalist as you have?
Make sure you get someone to read it and review it – preferably a scrip editor - before you send it out. A script editor might cost a bit but it’s a worthwhile investment.
When it comes to dialogue, the biggest lesson for me has been – “Less is more”. Make sure the grammar/sp./formatting’s all kosher. Nothing more tiresome for a reader than having to wade through a sloppy mess.
And as with any craft, read lots of books on screenwriting and – keep writing and re-writing. Watch Youtube podcasts/Clips on how to structure screenplays. There’s no one way to structure it. There are three-act structures and four-act structures. You’ve just got to find what works for you.
What else are you working on that the world needs to know about?
I’m working on a treatment for a feature that is essentially a war movie – set in WWI. So it will involve a fair bit of research – and I’m quite excited about it. Then there’s a TV mini-series with a common thematic thread linking each self-contained episode. And already, it’s making my heart leap.