Where do you live (City, State, or Country)?
I live in Bethesda Maryland.
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?
Before becoming an emerging screenwriter, I spent thirty years working in Washington, D.C. as a senior counsel in Congress and thereafter as a political consultant and lobbyist. Along the way, I have worked on campaigns and done grass roots work for an Administration. I could not have written Taking Chances without such experience.
I wrote a script because I’ve dedicated an enormous amount of time learning the craft of screenwriting. I also moonlight as an actor which informs my screen writing. Creating and performing characters on stage enables me to transfer these skills to the development of characters in my screenplays.
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 took two weeks to outline my script, then another month to write the first draft of my pilot, followed by another month of multiple drafts and revisions to refine the script with the input of writing partners.
I begin with an outline that features character descriptions (their thirsts, their weaknesses, their story arcs, their relationships with other characters), a thesis that serves as a blueprint for my plot. From there, I develop a world for these characters and a tone for the story. I follow a three-act structure in which I set the stage for the story and the condition of the protagonist from the start. I add an inciting incident before the end of Act I. I drive him/her through adversity in Act II and deliver that protagonist in Act III to a place and mindset that’s 180 degrees different from Act I.
What is your ultimate ambition as a writer?
My goal is to option/sell my film and television screenplays to film and television executives. I am also interested in writing in a writers’ room for a television series. And ideally, I’d like to be a lead writer on a show/film I’ve developed and written.
Was your entry at The Wiki Screenplay Contest a full script or “the first ten pages”? Why did you make that choice?
It was a full pilot. I’m confident enough not to need validation for my early stage of writing a pilot or film.
What’s your all-time favorite movie or television show...and why?
VEEP. Having worked and spent time in the political world, I appreciate how this show superimposes hilarity and irreverence on the real-life workings of Washington. The dialogue is clever, sharp, and well-written. The characters are spot on when measured against the real thing. For those of us disenchanted by politics these days, it is the perfect elixir.
What advice do you have for writers hoping to win a contest or place as a finalist as you have?
Keep writing. Never stop learning your craft, whether by reading relevant books and essays, listening to/watching podcasts or webinars, all focused on the content and business of screenwriting.
What else are you working on that the world needs to know about?
My brand is Washington DC: political dramas, thrillers, dramedies and comedies.
I am currently finishing a tv pilot – a dark political drama entitled “Under the Influence”. Logline: “When a U.S. Congressman is found dead in the backcountry of an exclusive ski resort, a troubled father in recovery must save his estranged son from the murderer and exact revenge on that same man who unjustly sent him to prison years before.” Think SHAMELESS meets HOUSE OF CARDS.
I am also re-working a political comedy called “Grassroots”. Logline: “When a sensible Congressman encounters the off-the-wall and seemingly unsolvable concerns of his quirky, homespun constituents, he must struggle with a cynical and eccentric cast of characters in Washington, DC to get things right for the folks back home.” Think SCHITT’S CREEK meets VEEP.