2015 – Short Screenplay Winners Interviews

2015james


What first got you interested in screenwriting?

I remember a friend of my Mum’s son had a faber & faber Pulp Fiction published screenplay which he gave me a loan of and it became a prized possession of mine never to be returned. I still have it somewhere. I became obsessed with learning the format and what all the abbreviations meant. When I finally discovered there were websites filled with screenplays for free I would have my uncle print me off piles of pages.

How long have you been writing for?

Since I was in my early teenage years. It took me a long time before I had the guts to let anybody read anything of mine though.

When I was around thirteen-fourteen I remember meeting up with my older cousin James to try and write a film called Face Value, that was about a sociopathic Glaswegian gangster trying to find out who slashed him. It was supposed to be our wee adolescent answer to the Long Good Friday and Gangster No.1 but we ended up abandoning it.

Do you keep to a routine?

I don’t have a solid routine, if I write a few pages a day then I’m happy but I find myself writing in my head all of the time anyway. Whether I’m out walking around or relaxing watching a film I’ll no doubt be thinking about film ideas or tweaking storylines.

How do you find time to write?

Growing up in Springburn was a big help, a lot of old friends definitely helped inspire the characters. The song Street Hassle by Lou Reed was a big influence, at first I was just attempting to put a Glaswegian spin on the story in that song of a young girl overdosing on heroin but I ended up taking the characters of Louie and Bruce out of that and dropping them into this story instead which had a little bit more levity to it.

Other than Trainspotting or the superb Adam and Paul you rarely get a raw honest look around this world so I feel like it is about time.

How long did it take to write?

This one was really quick because I knew how it was going to end, I basically just let the characters talk to each other in my head and finished it over a weekend. I’ve rewritten and tightened it up a lot since that first initial draft though.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I think it’s really cathartic for me. A lot of what I write is inspired by events in or around my life so it sometimes helps me see certain things in a new light or from different points of view.

For me there’s nothing more rewarding than having people respond to stories or characters you created while sitting alone in your bedroom.

What do you struggle with the most?

Probably confidence for me, sometimes I finish writing something and I cringe at the sight of it then convince myself it’s terrible but usually it’s just because I’ve spent so much time rewriting and reading over it that it doesn’t feel fresh or original to me anymore.

Do you feel that the film industry embraces new writing talent?

I think there could probably be more done to help people get their foot in the door. Things like shore scripts and local filmmaking training schemes are a big help. I seen online that Amazon are accepting screenplays from anybody for pilots just now and I think this is a big step in the right direction it would be good to see film production companies do the same.

Have you found it difficult to get your work out there and read?

Yes definitely. Two years ago I was lucky and found a film training scheme here in Glasgow at a place called Film City under the guidance of a filmmaker Catriona MacInnes which gave me a much needed confidence boost in my writing. The years before that though I went through non stop rejection and just the constant downright refusal of having any of my scripts read.

I barely finished high school never mind college or uni so just having anybody read a script of mine always felt like a mission. I masqueraded as a runner, a terrible actor and any other crew roles I could get my hands on to try and get local film students to read my scripts, usually failing miserably. A healthy dose of rejection can help you stay hungry to prove yourself though, I think I’m a better writer because of it.

How did you feel when your script was shortlisted, then becoming a finalist, and then one of our winners?

It was unbelievable when I was shortlisted I thought “Och that’s a pity vote I won’t make the semi finals.” Then I made the semi finals and step by step was more and more shocked.

I write my dialogue the way I hear it in my head so because there’s a lot of Glaswegian slang I never think anybody will put themselves through reading it all so when they do I’m always pleasantly surprised. The idea that any of the amazing judges actually read Street Hassle is honestly so overwhelming to me. I can’t really process it if I’m honest.

How did you hear about Shore Scripts?

I saw it on facebook and I remember on the day of the deadline I had £20 in my bank and was trying to decide whether to submit Street Hassle or buy myself a bucket from KFC. Thankfully I decided to pop into a wee internet cafe on Sauchiehall Street and submit it.

What goals do you have for this script and your future career?

I would love to see this script get made into a short film, I’m really passionate about the characters and I think people would enjoy being brought into the tent for a glimpse around this little slice of Glasgow life.

As for my future goals I would really like to have an agent at some point and I hope to eventually see some more of my scripts become honest little films.

2015voss

 

 

What first got you interested in screenwriting?

I took a screenwriting class the summer after my freshmen year of college that I enjoyed. The professor and some of my classmates thought I showed talent which helped inspire me to write more.

How long have you been writing for?

I started with that screenwriting course. So I’ve been writing for nearly 5 years now.

Do you keep to a routine when you’re writing?

No, not really. I have a tendency to wait for inspiration to hit me, and then write large chunks. This is admittedly not a very efficient or conscientious way of going about it.

How do you find time to write?

I don’t have as much time as I used for writing because I’m in a doctoral program, but I always dedicate some time on the weekends to writing.

How many short screenplays have you written?

I’ve written 6 shorts and 2 feature length screenplays.

What gave you the inspiration for this screenplay?

I was staying in New York and I saw a sign for a suicide hotline on the subway. I thought it looked a little eerie and out of place next to the other advertisements.

How long did it take to write?

I actually wrote it for a class I was taking. It took me about a week to write the original version. I then revisited it around a year later, and tweaked it up. It took me a few nights to finish revising it.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I enjoy the beginning stages, when the initial ideas spark in my head and I’m putting those ideas on paper. It’s definitely the easiest part, but I also find it very satisfying.

What do you struggle with the most?

Dialogue is the most difficult for me. My first drafts are usually full of characters spitting clichés at one another. It usually takes a couple of drafts to get my dialogue to a place I consider passable.

Do you feel that the film industry embraces new writing?

I don’t have experience with the film industry, so I couldn’t say for certain.

Have you found it difficult to get your work out there and read?

Yes. When I first started writing, I figured I could just send my script to an agent who would read it, find it brilliant, and then sell it for me. Of course it doesn’t really work out that way. To get your screenplay read by anyone with pull in the industry, you need to make a name for yourself. If you’ve made a name for yourself, you’re probably not desperate to get your scripts read. So it’s a bit of a catch-22.

How did it feel when your script was shortlisted, then becoming a finalist, and then one of the winners?

I was thrilled when I became a finalist, and was pretty content with that. I figured it was a good run, but it would probably end there. I was shocked and elated when I found out I was one of the winners.

How did you hear about Shore Scripts?

I found out about it through the International Screenwriters’ Association website. I was submitting to a bunch of contests at the time. I’m definitely glad this was one of them!

What goals do you have for this script and your future career?

For now, I’m just looking to get this short produced. Hopefully my win here will help me out with that.

2015-dominic

 


What first got you interested in screenwriting?

I used to want to be an actor, and found getting to the heart of the words the most satisfying part of the process. As writing was always something I loved to do, it just sort of clicked that perhaps this should be an avenue I might pursue.

How long have you been writing for?

Ever since I was forced to in primary school. The joy I took in writing these epic stories inside of a regular lesson always felt like cheating the system… Never really compared to geography, unfortunately.

Do you keep to a routine when you’re writing?

I have a day job as a producer in TV/advertising, and as soon as the clock hits 6, I switch off my phone and become a writer for the rest of the day.

How do you find time to write?

Like everything else, it is just about making time. Being exhausted at the end of a day is a totally valid excuse, but it won’t get anything written.

How many short screenplays have you written?

To date, I’ve written 6 short screenplays I am still happy with. I literally find old printed drafts at the bottom of bags, bookcases and underwear drawers.

What gave you the inspiration for this screenplay?

To be brutally honest, I think I was feeling slightly cynical about people who claim to “find themselves” based on a bad breakup I witnessed that was ostensibly caused by this very phenomenon! That someone can literally come back ‘a different person’ can sometimes be truer than one might imagine.

How long did it take to write?

The first draft took me 10 minutes, and I spent roughly an hour editing. The script was 1.5 pages long and the deadline was mere hours away!

What do you enjoy most about writing?

The thing I love most is the moment I hand somebody one of my scripts and they laugh, or go silent, or actually feel something. The power to create a strong emotional response in another is the privilege and the responsibility of the writer I think.

What do you struggle with the most?

I worry a lot about not “making it”, whatever the hell that means. I think a lot of people do.

Do you feel that the film industry embraces new writing?

I am sure it does, but I have only just begun to dip my toe in. Before submitting to Shore Scripts I never, ever imagined I could win a legitimate competition against other talented writers. I always felt like ‘Talent’ was a word reserved for my competition, and therefore found competitions pretty intimidating.

Have you found it difficult to get your work out there and read?

There’s definitely an advantage in being a proactive, social writer – if you can just get the word out that you write screenplays, someone might eventually want to read one. And that someone could be pretty important. Networking events are great for making these connections, although truthfully you never really know where these connections will form.

How did it feel when your script was shortlisted, then becoming a finalist, and then one of the winners?

I’ve only once been in a serious car crash, and I swear it was a similar feeling. I was walking down a busy street and had to surreptitiously lean against a wall to steady myself. I literally could not believe I had won. I’m ashamed to say I wasn’t even following the notifications, I didn’t believe I would ever win. I found out 6 days late that my script had actually won.

How did you hear about Shore Scripts?

I was looking to get more involved in competitions, and Shore Scripts just left this strong impression on me. The list of judges was jaw-dropping and it just felt like they really cared about the writers that entered.

What goals do you have for this script and your future career?

While I love the script I wrote, I am working on some longer shorts and a TV pilot right now. At the moment, I am open to different kinds of writing. I hope to work in film, but would also love to write for television. My overriding goal is simply to become a better writer. I’m hoping that, with a bit of elbow grease, the rest will fall into place.