Where do you live (City, State, or Country)?
I live in Lake Arrowhead in the mountains above Los Angeles.
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?
Even though I once served in the Army I was surprised to find out that America has over 82,000 Missing in Action servicemen. This is a cumulative number for all our conflicts all the way back to WWII. As a documentary filmmaker this compelling and little-known story just had to be put to film. Early on, the Department of Defense called and asked if they could help with my film. This opened the door to the true depth, breadth and tragedy of this issue. This in turn, led me to the thousands of extended American families still waiting for closure. It led as well to the Department of POW/MIA Accounting Agency charged with the endless searches for our fallen. America is the only country currently that promises our military that they will not be left behind when sent to combat. An industry friend one night over dinner suggested that the material is untouched. Why not create a scripted NCIS type series about it.
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 one started with FADE IN. Writing doc films usually begins with research. And in preproduction and production of my documentary “A Solemn Promise, America’s Missing in Action” I was awash in meetings with families of MIAs and their stories. DoD allowed me access to the military’s After-Action Report’s accounting of an MIA’s last mission and the DPAA’s real time searches and repatriation ceremonies.
So deeply immersed in data, stories and information it would have been difficult to write about anything else. I’ve written a couple screenplays and TV scripts with a partner, Eric Luthi. So, I asked him to jump in and we were off creating, “The Promise.”
The documentary film, “A Solemn Promise, America’s Missing in Action” as well as, Helicopter Warfare in Vietnam, The Personal Experience” I did originally for the History Channel are both playing on TUBI, Amazon and ROKU.
What is your ultimate ambition as a writer?
I’ve always been a writer making a living as such in advertising. But the great joy of writing is the reward it provides when you have worked even a short sentence over and over. And you get it to a place where, in your mind, you can’t change it again because it perfectly conveys your thoughts. And it’s perfect whether or not anyone but yourself ever reads it, pays you for it or the work receives any recognition.
I have since my advertising days written over sixty short stories, three TV series, including “The Promise.” I have five spec screenplays- two of which placed well in this same contest. I authored my first book, “The Healing, Pan American Flight 001.” Well reviewed as self-published and now under consideration with a major publisher. I thoroughly enjoy writing the process. Recognition and paychecks are value- added.
Was your entry at The Wiki Screenplay Contest a full script or “the first ten pages”? Why did you make that choice?
The entry was a full script with character bible and story arcs as they were already written.
What’s your all-time favorite movie or television show...and why?
So many favorite films by Danny Boyle, Clint Eastwood, Antoine Fuqua, Tim Burton Christopher Nolan and more. However, my favorite TV show was the short lived, “The Newsroom” by Arron Sorkin. The nearly real time stories with back stories and conflicts to try and get it right was truly brilliant.
What advice do you have for writers hoping to win a contest or place as a finalist as you have?
If you learn to enjoy the process why ever would you stop writing? A cousin of mine was a well-known character actor, Greg Walcott. Greg was active in Hollywood for over three decades appearing in several Clint Eastwood films as the antagonist. He was always encouraging about my writing.
One day at lunch he gave me some sound advice. He said, “Don’t ever quit your writing and don’t let this town break your heart.” His advice to keep writing but stay grounded has been invaluable to me so, I pass it along.
What else are you working on that the world needs to know about?
I have an important project in production about stewardship of our planet.
After negotiating a unique and comprehensive contract with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration I and two film industry partners formed Oceanic Immersions LLC. We have become NOAA’s voice bringing their discoveries, research and climate change mitigation solutions worldwide on a variety of platforms. Using NOAA’s incredible database as well as other science-based organizations we are creating an online Academy for Marine and Environmental Sciences. This will be available to schools and universities worldwide.
Our messaging will also be in documentaries as both a series and one-offs created and produced for disparate demographic groups.
And using XR, AR and VR we will create and produce educational portals enabling anyone to have access to reliable information about how they individually can fight climate change’s’ most egregious issues. More info at oceanicimmersions.com