Where do you live (City, State, or Country)?
Los Angeles, CA
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 am not only a writer and filmmaker, I am also an academic. I studied film theory, and my focus was on critical studies of race, gender, and identity. I also love dance films because I love to dance. I grew up idolizing and imitating John Travolta because he was Italian, like me, and owned the dance floor. As a trans man, I know that what we call queer culture is actually deeply rooted in the Black and Latino community. That was 79 their way. 1979 was the year I was born, so it’s my turn to set the record straight. That’s why I wrote “ ‘79”.
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?
I wrote ’79 over the course of July 4th weekend. I had been wanting to write a script that I could write and star in that incorporated dance. I was in the shower, listening to a Spotify playlist and “More Than a Woman” by the BeeGees came on. I started dancing and I got this vague flash of an idea. I finished my shower, toweled off, and staring writing in a word document.
My goal was really simple: tell the truth. I listened to only Disco songs while writing it. Only songs that came out in 1979.
What is your ultimate ambition as a writer?
My ultimate ambition as a writer is to tell truthful stories that reframe past oversights. There’s a lot of really harmful storytelling in Hollywood, and I want to be known as someone who can make a great, entertain people, and also teach them something they can walk away with forever.
Which film or television writers inspire you? Why?
Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick are my filmmaking idols.
What’s your all-time favorite movie or television show?
Movies: Jaws, Silence of the Lambs, Jerry Maguire, Get Out, Inside Man, Man on Fire
TV Shows: Pushing Daisies, The Good Place, Oz, The Killing, the first season of Dexter.
What advice do you have for writers hoping to win a contest or place as a finalist as you have?
My best advice is this: Write things that you enjoy reading.
Once you finish your drafts, take a day or two off. Then sit down and pretend like someone else wrote it and read your script. When you’re done reading, make a list of what you liked about it only. Then, read it again. When you’re done reading, make a list of things you were curious about. Once you have those two lists, use them as guides for scenes to include, cut, or re-write to make them better. Once you have something you like reading, go find festivals that seem like “your people.” Chances are, they will enjoy reading your script as much as you did.
What else are you working on that the world needs to know about?
I have a horror feature film that I just finished. Callback is written in the same vein as ’79. It’s a throwback horror film, much more in the style of The Shining and Rebecca. It deals specifically with Hollywood’s long checkered past of queer actors being kept secret for “the good of their career.” Callback opens the