Where do you live?
I live in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, along the north shore of Lake Ontario.
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?
First off, being a finalist was truly a thrill. Being from Canada, I am a strong believer
that this country has a vibrant history that has been unrepresented in film and, is much more than fur traders and hockey players. The French/English dichotomy in Canada has been an issue in Canada since before confederation. There have been documentaries and such but nothing entertaining. So, I wanted to create a Jack Ryan-like Canadian hero set in a tumultuous political atmosphere. I also wanted to provide something that an audience might walk away from and say, “I didn’t know that.”
As to why a script instead of a novel or short story? I have always identified with films. It’s visual. I have never been a reader, although I am starting to now, and I don’t feel that I am articulate enough to write a compelling novel.
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?
This script was years in the making. You need to be true to the timeline of the story so a lot of research went into events of the time, the history of the agencies involved, the political figures mentioned and the cities that act as their own characters in the story.
I then used index cards to map out the story because the “manuals” suggested it. I still use that method as well as cursory outlines to give me some kind of direction.
The first draft took two months to write and was received quite well. It was written using WORD, setting margins and tabs based on, again, the manuals I read. I did well in a contest. My gift to me was Final Draft. What a difference! But, having started with no knowledge, it has taken quite some to hone my skills and develop as a screenwriter to get to where it is now.
Once I type FADE IN, I get on a roll and start typing until I hit a snag or have completed Act 1. Then Act 11 and then the finale. Unfortunately, I often make the mistake of re-writing as new ideas come to me and then the schedule goes out the window.
What is your ultimate ambition as a writer?
I would love to see my scripts turned into movies. I have no genre specialties. I would love to be able to enjoy something in the theatre or television and say, “Yeah, I wrote that.”
Was your entry at The Wiki Screenplay Contest a full script or “the first ten pages”? Why did you make that choice?=
I entered the full script. This script’s ongoing storyline and characters that appear later in the story are what makes it intriguing. The twist in the final scene was what drove me to write this story. I needed the reader to enjoy and appreciate all of it. I have been asked if this is a true story. So there is some validation in that.
What’s your all-time favorite movie or television show...and why?
I enjoy stories that keep my interest. Many of the older movies are my favourites: The Great Escape, The Guns of Navarone and any western that stars Clint Eastwood. Then there’s the Potter films, the Lord of the Rings films, Star Wars, many of the super hero films and Abbott and Costello. I hope that narrows it down for you.
What advice do you have for writers hoping to win a contest or place as a finalist as you have?
Make sure your script is clean. Read and re-read. Spellcheck doesn’t cover everything. Make sure it’s formatted properly – make it look professional. The greatest advice I have received is, show don’t tell. Keep the narrative short yet descriptive and let the action and characters tell the story.
If you think to yourself, “Maybe it’s missing this,” it probably is. Then send it out to a peer group, there are many free sites where you submit yours and get a review after you read someone else’s and give a review. It can be quite educational. This is your first chance to see what someone else thinks. Take it or leave it but if the same criticisms come up there might be something to it. I haven’t made my mind up about contests vs coverage services but I would recommend submitting to contests that offer notes. You get feedback and maybe win something. Like an interview perhaps.
What else are you working on that the world needs to know about?
I have written an animated short, a hockey drama (I am Canadian, eh), and a family comedy. I have collaborated on a faith-based screenplay that, as it turned out, was a semi-finalist in this contest. I have also written a super-hero screenplay that was featured in the Fan Fiction screenplay competition, (are you listening DC). These have all been well received in various contests but I continue to strive to make them even better.
The big thing I am working on now is pitching. I am not very good at it but I’m learning.