Where do you live (City, State, or Country)?
I live in Astoria Queens in New York City.
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?
In the case of my screenplay, HAUNTED HEART, it was based on my real life experience of losing a love and having missed the change to say ‘good-bye.’ My one hour drama pilot, CHASING THE DARK, was inspired by an encounter with a Russian psychic who worked on Wall Street. Most of the things I write begin with something true. I’ve written a couple of screenplays that were true stories, top to bottom, and other works have used something real as a jumping off point for a story.
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 years I resisted outlining scripts until I wrote one that had to build to a specific incident in the climax. After doing an outline for that script I embraced that practice and have done it ever since. As a result I now spend more time working on the story and write fewer drafts than I did before. My feature, HAUNTED HEART, was a long process. I wrote a first draft very quickly but, because it was based on a personal story, I had to work hard to mine all the drama and find all the ‘beats’ I was missing in the story. The pilot, CHASING THE DARK, was a much faster process because I had outlined the episode and did a series bible. I think doing that helped me dive deep into the world of the show and the script flowed easily from that. So the speed varies but my writing process is pretty much always the same.
What is your ultimate ambition as a writer?
My main ambition is to write entertaining and moving stories. I’m a huge Billy Wilder fan so I strive to ‘be like Billy’ and write in many different genres. I’ve done comedies, dramas, thrillers, bio-pix and even tackled a western. I don’t want to write the same thing over and over. So I challenge myself to try different things, to learn new story forms with characters that interest and surprise me. Because if I’m not excited by the story there is no chance that an audience will be.
Was your entry at The Wiki Screenplay Contest a full script or “the first ten pages”? Why did you make that choice?
I’ve done both. The ‘first 10 pages’ option is great to do when I have a first draft. The feedback from that tells me if I’ve grabbed the reader. My experience has been that if the ‘hook’ isn’t there, the rest of the script will probably be unfocused. So I send early drafts for the ‘first ten’ or if I’ve re-worked the opening of a later draft and want to see where I’m at with it. I enter later drafts for full coverage to get an idea what shape the project is in. I like the number grading system Wiki uses because it makes it easy to see if the scores of scripts I re-submit are going up or, God forbid, heading south.
What’s your all-time favorite movie or television show...and why?
My favorite dramatic show was BREAKING BAD because of the journey the main character travels over the course of the series. Walter White goes from timid chemistry professor to vicious drug lord in the name of providing for his family. As far as comedy goes I’m currently loving ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING. It’s hilarious and the mystery (in season one) unfolded very well. A great tribute/send-up of MURDER SHE WROTE. As far as movies…anything by Mr. Wilder. I consider THE APARTMENT to be the most perfect script ever written. And his dramas (DOUBLE INDEMNITY, SUNSET BOULEVARD, THE LOST WEEKEND, ACE IN THE HOLE etc.) are as good as it gets.
What advice do you have for writers hoping to win a contest or place as a finalist as you have?
Write something YOU want to see and then polish, polish, polish! Do readings of your scripts and share them with folks. You need to see if you’re connecting with your audience and the way to do that is to get notes from contests like Wiki and/or have smart, talented folks read your stuff. Taking notes is tough. You have to have a thick skin and learn to separate what resonates with you from what doesn’t. Sometimes a script is just not a person’s cup of borscht. So don’t take it personally.
What else are you working on that the world needs to know about?
I hope to direct my feature script, HAUNTED HEART, in the coming year. And I’d love to sell CHASING THE DARK to a network or streaming platform. I just finished a very nasty noir script called OUT OF NOWHERE. Some folks like it and some truly hate it. So I’m onto something (Ha!) I’ll definitely be sending it to Wiki to get their thoughts on it. And do a reading to see if I’ve crafted a gem or stepped in a pile of poo. You never know.