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2016 screenwriting contest winners interviews


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thomasWhat first got you interested in screenwriting?
We’ve always been interested in listening to people and helping them tell their stories. In our day job, making documentary films we have interviewed thousands of people. Everyone has a moment in their life which defines them, a story that defines their identity. Each of these people have a different way of talking, different vocabulary they use and through meeting people and short-handing their characters you begin to enjoy playing with and reinventing their situations. So often quite intentionally people’s character traits and unique situations spark story ideas or character ideas and you are writing a screenplay before you know it. Inventing a situation and creating a character who will struggle to navigate your story. So in short, people watching is what made us interested in screenwriting. Saying that, Dave has been telling stories since he was into dolls houses as a child. Screenwriting seems like a natural extension for both our over active imaginations. A free way of exploring a new world, new characters and imagined situations. It is the perfect literary medium as you are writing something that can be turned into a film but also has a value just on the page allowing the reader to imagine the film.

How long have you been writing for?
I learnt to write when I was about 4. (says Nell… ) I’ve been scriptwriting since I was at university (Dave), which i’m embarrassed to say is 15 years ago. I’m so old now.

Do you have a routine?
Yes and no. When we are coming up with ideas it’s best to have no routine, and just find inspiration from life, people you know, going somewhere totally different, talking to people, listening to conversations, street photography. The best way is to do that spontaneously. I think that the world inspires both of us, and very sporadically.

When we are writing, we like to start at around 10 and then finish early afternoon in time to pick up our daughter or spend time together. I think if you sit for too long you can procrastinate and now we use this software that makes you take a break every 25 minutes which has improved productivity massively.

I think routine is something that definitely improves your productivity for actual writing, but the opposite can be true for problem solving, fixing characters or narrative. For example I like to edit writing in pubs/cafes on a printed copy imagining that I am reading someone else’s script.

How do you find time to write?
You have to make time. Taking time off work, working to a deadline for a competition or an arbitrary one is really important. Having people around you to hold you accountable is really useful.

When we wrote our debut feature This Is Not Happening I did Nanowrimo and spent November writing 50,000 words and then the following June writing the screenplay. I did that screenplay in mornings and would treat myself to lunch with friends and then Nell and I would edit the script on evenings and weekends. This time, with the Assessor we blocked out mid June to July and didn’t take much work on, leaving us very broke in August. But it seems like it was worth it.

How many feature screenplays have you written?
This was our 3rd feature screenplay, but we’ve written lots of shorts, a sitcom and TV pilots (all on spec) before.

What gave you the inspiration for this screenplay?
When we decided to have a baby, lots of people sucked in air through their teeth and said “your whole life is going to change”. We waved our hands airily and smiled and ignored them and then we brought our daughter home from hospital. Turns out we should have listened!

The script was a combination of our love of alternative sci-fi stories (particularly The Lobster) and wanting to make something personal to our new experience of parenthood. We’ve always wanted to write a genre film but anchor it in the real world with characters that were based on people we knew. Our daughter certainly provided lots of amazing material to incorporate into the script!

How long did it take to write?
We had the initial ideas in April and made time (about 6 weeks) in June/July to write and got to 6th draft stage before submitting the script to Shore Scripts.

What do you enjoy most about writing?
Its free! We’ve made shorts and a feature and that is a really expensive way to tell stories if you are self funding it! Scriptwriting allows you to go on vacation every single day, to be somewhere else and become someone else. To live someone else’s life. To imagine a completely different and impossible scenario and see it through. It’s so liberating to not worry too much about production and just write creatively, shelving thoughts about how much anything would cost to produce. As a filmmaker I think writing is a purer, more perfect medium. It’s wonderful when the characters start talking to you and you can see exactly what choices they would want to make or be compelled to make.

What do you struggle with the most?
Needing to mentally cast my script before I start writing! Dave likes to borrow actors as though they have already signed up to play the part and if he can’t think of the right performer it really slows him down. Endings are Dave’s nemesis. Finding a conclusion that feels honest for each character, will satisfy the audience, be completely explicable but also shocking and true to the original idea you had. I struggle with self-doubt (Nell). Why would anyone care? Has the idea any merit, is it derivative? Probably stemming from the fact that I have read way too much!

But these are struggles that we can help each other with which is one of the great things about working as a team.

Do you feel that the film industry embraces new writing talent?
We’ve never really felt part of the film industry, we’ve just made our own films and the industry has seemed like something other people do. But we always felt that, if we kept doing what we were doing we would get where we are going. We love films, we try and watch everything new and have always done things ourselves in the hope that if our work became good enough then people would want to talk to us. We were told several years ago that Steven Moffat’s advice to writers was that if you keep doing what you’re doing the f**kers will find you. Lets see if that happens for us!

Have you found it difficult to get your work out there and read?
We didn’t even know how to try. We would just stare at websites of companies whose work we really admire reading the lines “unsolicited work will not be read” and didn’t know how to get beyond that point. The chicken and egg problem of getting an agent and how to get on their radar in the first place.

How did you feel when your script was shortlisted, then a finalist, and then one of our winners?
Genuine disbelief and excitement when we saw our names shortlisted, and then to be still on the list as the final 5 were announced, we just stared at the screen and then jumped up and down and got really excited. We spent the whole day on the 30th November waiting for the website to update and then Dave’s mum called. Dave didn’t want to take the call because he thought she’d just be asking where we placed. When I answered, Dave’s Mum congratulated us, and I basically jumped out of my seat. We were so happy and surprised. We tried to explain to our daughter that we were the Winners but I don’t think she really understands competition yet so was fairly non-plussed! It was and still is a huge shock, and we’re absolutely delighted. We felt we had a good idea, but had no idea it would resonate so strongly with the readers and the judges. In fact, one of the judges has already started talking to us about the possibility of an option on the script, a conversation we never thought we’d be having.

How did you hear about Shore Scripts?
We Googled a few competitions and were interested in ones with feedback, as we really wanted some written feedback on our work. We were more concerned about that in the first instance than the competition. The feedback we got was brilliant, and really insightful and the competition has turned out to be surprisingly good too!

What goals do you have for this script and your future career?
We’d love to see it made in a way that satisfies that original idea we had. Wherever the setting might become or how the script develops, as long as it is true to that original premise and we are involved in that process we’ll be very happy. Working with people whose work we admire is definitely high on our priorities list and learning from great, inspiring people.

For the future we’d love to continue working together as a team. In the past we’ve had to divide and conquer to earn money and keep the household afloat, but the dream for us has always been to work together creatively and be paid to work on projects we are interested in and in a way that suits our lives.

We’d love to write more and to direct as well in the future, and to make films that are intellectually satisfying for us and really entertaining for audiences. If we can make enough money to cover the bills too, that’d be great.

If you had any advice for aspiring screenwriters, what would it be?
To keep writing, to work with lots of varied and interesting people and talk about ideas. I think the exchange of ideas is so important and often as writers we can get tucked away in these boxes where we have this one idea we are beavering away on for ages. Teaching scriptwriting really helped us appreciate how important it is to be authentic to who you are, to write the sort of stories you love watching and not write what you think you should write. We have tried to second guess what the industry wants or what might get us this funding or to the next stage and this time was different. We wrote a story that was personal to us and exciting to us and I think that’s what can really inspire you as a writer. To aim to make something that is really true to what you love and the stories that matter to you.

You also really need to write as often as you can, even if it’s just coming up with an idea over coffee with a friend. Trying to find stories, and completing the story from A-B and imagining it definitely helps your imagination and creativity.

We don’t feel like we’re really qualified to give advice but definitely to write more and to never give up are the only things that really matter.


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aliceWhat first got you interested in screenwriting?
When I figured out that films were written before they were shot, I started reading screenplays. After a while, I opened Final Draft to write them myself, and it was really fun.

How long have you been writing for?
I’ve been writing in all forms since I was a child, but it was mostly prose – short stories and even a very naïve fantasy novel. I loved Film though, and in my teenage years made a few weird short films and experimented with Editing. Then at University, although I studied Psychology, I spent most of my time involved in Film and Theatre. But I wasn’t very disciplined about writing screenplays. Then after I graduated I wrote a bunch of terrible shorts which I never made. They got longer and longer, till finally I was attempting a feature. That was the first time I actually gave myself the permission to really try, but the idea had been knocking around in my head since I was 16!

Do you have a routine?
Well, it depends on if I’m writing full-time or fitting it around another full-time job. If I’m fitting it around a job, there is no such thing as routine – just hours wrestled from wherever you can find them. If I’m doing nothing else, the whole day is mine. I wish I could say I got up at dawn and did an hour of yoga before starting an uninterrupted, beautiful day of writing. But the reality is I hate waking up, and in between the writing, I drink lots of tea, read articles online, draw, and walk around aimlessly. I keep going until late in the evening, when I finally cave and start watching sitcoms.

When I’m actually writing a draft, I try to stick to a rule of 10 pages a day. But for me the hardest point at which to create a routine, is when I’m still in the early stages of a project – when I have an idea but need to come up with the characters and basic story. I used to find it really hard to actually see that as a day’s work, because it’s so much about dreaming, trying different ideas out, and remaining open in your thoughts. And the conscientious worker in me just cannot justify spending the day thinking with nothing to show for it. So now I write everything up in a bible for the project I’m working on. It’s pretty much a stream of consciousness expression of all the ideas I’ve had on a project and it serves lots of brilliant functions. It allows me to actually hold myself accountable: if I’ve worked hard, I’ve added lots of pages to the bible. And it means I have something to go back to when I get lost. Ideas I’ve discarded on the way, thoughts about theme and character back story, are all kept somewhere useful.

How do you find time to write?
This is a great question! And a particularly relevant one when you’re starting out and are getting paid very little or more likely nothing for what you’re doing.

I’ve learned to be very disciplined about writing time because at some point, it has to become your primary focus or you have to give up. I’ve found that I always write less than I plan to because life or bad habits get in the way, so I aim to write absolutely all the time, and that means I manage to get some writing done. That’s basically my only rule. It does mean I spend a lot of my life feeling guilty – but it also means I’m relatively productive. When I worked a full time job (aka from graduation till very recently), I wrote on weekends and evenings. Now that I am freelance, I write till my money runs out, then I temp! Temping is brilliant for me because I don’t care about my day job too much, so I can dream about my writing all day, and because I’m in short term contracts which means I can fit film projects in.

How many feature screenplays have you written?
I’ve written three features. I’ve also written a couple of TV pilots and countless awful shorts.

What gave you the inspiration for this screenplay?
I was talking with friends a lot about snooping in relationships. A friend of mine’s ex-boyfriend installed an app on her phone which sent all the messages she received onto him. It’s interesting to me that as technology develops, we leave more and more detailed, more and more intimate trails, which can then be accessed by other people. And I thought: it’s only a matter of time before those trails will include thoughts. I studied Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience, so dreaming up a device that could interpret our inner monologues was an incredibly fun way of applying what I’d learned in my degree (first time I’ve used it so far!). In a way, it’s not a new idea – mind reading appears over and over in Film. But what was new and exciting to me was writing the grounded, realistic version of this idea, as a way to talk about love and trust in relationships.

How long did it take to write?
I thought about it for a couple of months, then sat down and wrote every day for three weeks till I had a first draft. I rewrote that a couple of times, which is the draft I submitted to Shore Scripts. Sadly, I don’t think it’s finished yet. Sigh…

What do you enjoy most about writing?
I love characters, coming up with them, writing them into situations, and making sure their actions feel plausible. I love what is unsaid between people, writing them interacting but failing to communicate. And I love story. I love what a story says about your point of view on the world, and how you sometimes don’t quite know what that is until you try different stuff out. Stories are meaningful, in the sense that they convey meaning about the world implicitly, and I love trying to get that meaning right.

What do you struggle with the most?
I struggle with everything. Writing is so bloody hard. Writing dialogue that’s not rubbish, getting the ending right, writing protagonists that aren’t passive, writing secondary characters that feel three-dimensional and not like you wrote them in for the plot (even when you wrote them in for the plot!), getting the balance right between trusting your first gut instinct, and not going with your first crap idea… I learn something about writing with every draft, usually have to learn it again in the next, and I’ve got lots more learning to do.

Do you feel that the film industry embraces new writing talent?
I think it does in a way. There are quite a few brilliant schemes out there, and fantastic competitions such as Shore Scripts. There are lots of opportunities and people are really excited about new writers. However, it’s up to you to work really hard and prove you’re good enough. Which is totally fair enough!

Have you found it difficult to get your work out there and read?
I didn’t find it difficult, but I worked in Film for a few years before I tried to share my writing. So I probably had the opposite problem – successful, talented people read really early drafts of scripts of mine which I now wish they hadn’t seen! But those people encouraged and championed me and I’ll forever be very grateful for that. I know it can be very difficult to get your work read if you don’t have those contacts. That’s what competitions like Shore Scripts are great for – getting through that first barrier to entry.

How did you feel when your script was shortlisted, then a finalist, and then one of our winners?
Obviously I felt amazing! It’s really encouraging and great validation. It’s worth saying though that I’ve had my fair share of rejection from screenwriting competitions, festivals, etc. You have to put yourself up for everything and anything, and try and remember that the Nos don’t matter, only the Yeses do.

How did you hear about Shore Scripts?
It’s one of the most prestigious and well-regarded UK screenwriting competitions. I can’t remember exactly when I first heard of it, but it’s been on my radar for a while.

What goals do you have for this script and your future career?
I would love to find a producer who gets this film and wants to make it with me.

If you had any advice for aspiring screenwriters, what would it be?
Believe with every draft of every screenplay that this is THE ONE, but don’t be too heartbroken when you realise it isn’t!


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ronWhat first got you interested in screenwriting?
I always loved movies from an early age. When I was little I wanted to grow up and write cartoons.

How long have you been writing for?
I wrote my first story in first grade. It wasn’t as good as I thought it was.

Do you have a routine?
Write every day. My cellphone screen reminds me of this every time I pick it up.

How do you find time to write?
The writing comes first. Don’t pretend that you’ll start writing as soon as dinner is done, the bills are paid, the kids are in bed, and the last email returned. YOU WILL NEVER WRITE ANYTHING. Write first. Before all that stuff. In the morning when you are fresh, or at night when you are too tired to care.

Have a spot to write. A space free of distractions. It better not be the kitchen table where you also pile your unfolded laundry and electric bills. Set up a table in the garage, or basement, or a guest room is ideal. The point is to limit distractions and inform the people who love you that when that door is closed you are working and not to be disturbed even if it’s just for 45 minutes at a time!

Often, I grab a beer and take the laptop to the patio when my wife is watching Dancing With the Stars or whatever silliness is on. Best 45 minutes of the week!

How many feature screenplays have you written?
Athens was my 7th feature. But I’ve since written my 8th, which was optioned to a producer who spotted it on InkTip.

I also recently completed my first professional assignment. I met a producer who was working on a vehicle piece for her daughter who is an Oscar- nominated actress. She asked me if I would read it and give some notes. She and her producing partner liked my ideas and hired me to do a rewrite.

This is another good lesson for writers. She asked me if I had a sample I could send her. I sent her ATHENS. Always a good idea to have a variety of quality pieces you can send out as samples. People NEVER want to make your movie. They just want to know if you have the right kind of voice to write THEIR movie.

This person, by the way, is a friend of a friend I met in a bar during a trivia game. So–get out there! Be a fun person!

What gave you the inspiration for this screenplay?
In his book, ‘Adventures in the Screen Trade’, William Goldman refers to an idea he had where a woman seduces both a father and a son. He never got the project off the ground but I was very intrigued by the concept. Steal from the best!

How long did it take to write?
About two months.

What do you enjoy most about writing?
Reading over finished pages that’s pretty damn good.” I particularly on Reddit, who and thinking, “Wow, see people all the time, claim to hate their finished pages. I don’t get this. If I didn’t think it was pretty good, I wouldn’t write it.

What do you struggle with the most?
Coming up with super-marketable ideas. I hear ideas all the time that amaze me. ‘Django Unchained’ was about a guy who escaped from slavery then sneaks back to free his wife. Shit! What a magnificent idea. So much drama just packed into a tiny logline. I could have written the shit out of that if I had the idea first.

That being said, I don’t think young writers or ‘new’ writers should be waiting around for a super- inspirational logline before getting started. ATHENS is a perfectly ordinary murder-for-hire plot which we’ve all seen a million times. The key is finding usable ideas and updating them or adding other elements that turn it into something fresh and original. Just put your original spin on it.

One of my greatest regrets is delaying writing my first screenplay for several years in the erroneous belief that I hadn’t stumbled upon the one great concept that would give me my start.

Do you feel that the film industry embraces new writing talent?
They want quality scripts. That’s it. That is the single most repeated complaint from professionals I listen to. “Not enough great scripts.” Production companies want to make great movies. Lit managers want to sign super-talented clients. And agencies want properties that are easy to sell. And it all starts with us and our goofy ideas.

It doesn’t matter if you are a teenager living in Liverpool or a senior citizen in Naples. Success in Hollywood begins and ends with the ability to write a great script.

Have you found it difficult to get your work out there and read?
Yes! Success in contests certainly helps. I’ve had some managers, agencies, and production companies reach out after getting deep in some contests.

But forming relationships that lead to introductions takes a lot longer. You do everything you can. When your friend needs help on his six-minute digital short, you show up and hold the boom. When your wannabe co-worker has an abysmal screenplay, you read it and give the best notes you can. You stay active on social media. You watch for opportunities to network. You make friends with other writers. You stay positive. And you keep writing. These are the things you can control.

How did you feel when your script was shortlisted, then a finalist, and then one of our winners?
Getting deep in contests is extremely exciting. The first round or so I wasn’t even paying attention to the announcement so I was surprised to be a quarter- finalist. A paid a lot more attention to the later rounds. Definitely had a hard time sleeping the last night. Found myself googling the exchange rate of pounds and dollars more than a few times.

By the way, one of the coolest things about the Shore Scripts competition is getting a personal congratulatory email from the organizers as you reach later rounds. Very nice touch.

And they’re really good at keeping their commitments to announcement dates.

How did you hear about Shore Scripts?
I won my entry into the Shore Scripts competition by placing (third again!) in the Reddit online competition. (r/screenwriting) That’s my first exposure to it.

What goals do you have for this script and your future career?
I moved to Hollywood last year to pursue writing full time. I am busy taking my own advice. Writing, networking, and making pals. My biggest short term goal is finding a manager. I really want to make that one great contact with somebody who can get me into those rooms so I can pitch ideas.

If you had any advice for aspiring screenwriters, what would it be?
Don’t wait. Do it now. Write every day. Believe in yourself. Hollywood really wants and needs your crazy, original, never-seen-before, off the wall screenplay! But you better make sure it’s as good as you can make it!

Take that class. Read that blog. Join that group. Volunteer to read (horrible) amateur scripts on Reddit.

Also, learn how to take advice and criticism. Screenwriters are dichotomous creatures. We are forced to be passionate artists when we create and then compliant corporate soldiers when taking notes. But everybody in the process is trying to make the best movie possible. Valuing the contributions of others is a big plus for you.


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markWhat first got you interested in screenwriting?
I came to filmmaking from a visual arts background, having written and illustrated for comics and graphic novels. When I switched over to film, I found that I had already developed an instinctive vocabulary and pace for writing via imagery, and that enabled me to acclimate to the new medium quickly. As a screenwriter, I draw on that sense of visual storytelling constantly, and I find it to be a great help.

How long have you been writing for?
As a feature screenwriter specifically, I’m relatively early in my career – though I’ve been telling stories through visuals since art school.

Do you have a routine?
I’ve conditioned myself to be an evening writer, with broad notes and outlines of scenes scratched out earlier in the day.

How do you find time to write?
It’s all about stealing moments, and being ruthless with time management.

What gave you the inspiration for this screenplay?
The 1971 D.B. Cooper skyjacking is one of America’s favorite unsolved mysteries – the mystery man who hijacked a plane bound for Seattle, landed and exchanged the passengers for $200,000, had the crew take off again, and finally parachuted away to vanish without a trace. Those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest take a special and curious ownership of it. A small town tavern in Washington State, near what’s thought to be where Cooper landed with his stolen money, still holds an annual party to commemorate the event. I fictionalized this place for my script, but it’s a real party that I’ve been to. Just talking with people there, you find Cooper is a constant source of speculative fascination. Who was he? Did he survive the jump? If so, where is he now? LET’S KILL D.B. COOPER is a heist film that starts off accurate to true life events, but within a few pages veers off wildly into my own attempt to answer these questions, and tell a story of legacy and redemption that’s a hell of a lot of fun.

How long did it take to write?
I let the concepts roll around in my head for way longer than I’d care to admit, but the actual, physical writing process took about six months. I followed that by directing a live stage reading at Seattle International Film Festival, to further workshop the script and make revisions. That’s a process I really recommend – being able to experience an audience’s in-the-moment reaction to the work. It’s both energizing and humbling.

What do you enjoy most about writing?
The dialogue, without question. I like it when the flow of a conversation can take a surprising turn, and then I find myself laughing alone at a spontaneous joke I just blurted out onto the keyboard.

What do you struggle with most?
The daily mental struggle against the blank page. When I’m able to grind through and get a productive flow going, then I’m in business.

Do you feel like the film industry embraces new writing talent?
I certainly hope so, because I may have the opportunity to find out soon.

Have you found it difficult to get your work out there and read?
It’s definitely a challenge, though I think competitions such as Shore Scripts are a great asset in receiving feedback and facilitating connections.

How did you feel when your script was shortlisted, then a finalist, and then one of our winners?
I was absolutely elated. I had previously made the semifinals for the Academy Nicholl Fellowship, but this is my first time in the winners’ circle, and it’s quite an honor.

How did you hear about Shore Scripts?
I googled “best screenplay contests” to see if there were any I had missed for my own reference list. I was particularly impressed by Shore Scripts for their high level of judges and industry connections.

What goals do you have for this script and your future career?
In the short term, I’m seeking representation to champion LET’S KILL D.B. COOPER and other feature scripts. My passion is to write dramas about outsiders and underdogs, giving these characters shots at glory and redemption.

If you had any advice for aspiring screenwriters, what would it be?
Submit to competitions and attend film festivals with strong programming for writers, like Austin Film Festival. Go to all the panels and take notes like crazy. Make writing a daily habit, even when the well is dry. And most importantly, learn to love coffee.


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jabariWhat first got you interested in screenwriting?
The idea of being a screenwriter was something that had never crossed my mind until about a year and a half ago. When I gave it some thought, the idea made a lot of sense. I’ve always enjoyed telling stories to friends and family. And in school, writing was something that had always come naturally to me. I decided to trust the voice in my head and started my journey as a screenwriter that very next day.

How long have you been writing for?
I’ve been writing for about a year and half now.

Do you have a routine?
I like to do my writing earlier on in the day. I sit in my room with some sort of caffeinated beverage and try to write for as long as my mind and fingers will allow me to.

How do you find time to write?
Because I work during the week I try to do most of my writing on the weekends.

How many feature screenplays have you written?
I’ve written five screenplays so far, and I’m currently working on my sixth.

What gave you the inspiration for this screenplay?
I was really fascinated by a news story that I had seen about service dogs being used to help veterans suffering from PTSD. One of the veterans talked about how his dog had brought a newfound optimism to his life when all sorts of medications had failed. Seeing this amazing relationship between a man and his dog is what inspired the basic idea for this script.

How long did it take to write?
Because I wasn’t working at the time, I was able to write this script in about six weeks.

What do you enjoy most about writing?
I enjoy the sense of accomplishment you get from finishing a script. Regardless of how amazing your script is or isn’t, being able to get from FADE IN to FADE OUT is no easy task, and definitely something to be proud of.

What do you struggle with the most?
My biggest struggle is always procrastination. When I don’t have enough good ideas I tend to procrastinate. Once I know what I want to write, sitting down and doing it is the easy part.

Do you feel that the film industry embraces new writing talent?
I think that they have to. At some point, everyone in the film industry was a new talent.

Have you found it difficult to get your work out there and read?
I haven’t been writing for very long so it’s hard for me to say. I do think that contests like this definitely make it easier than it might have been twenty years ago when the Internet wasn’t a thing.

How did you feel when your script was shortlisted, then a finalist, and then one of our winners?
Ironically enough, it’s hard to put into words just how excited I was to see my script make it all the way through to being one of the five winners. Placing in the top five definitely felt like a huge step in the right direction, and I’m very grateful to David and his entire team for making all of this possible.

How did you hear about Shore Scripts?
I found out about Shore Scripts through searching on Google for screenwriting contests.

What goals do you have for this script and your future career?
Like every writer, I would love to see my script made into an actual movie. And looking further into the future, I hope that this script can be a springboard to many more successes.

If you had any advice for aspiring screenwriters, what would it be?
My advice would be to write what you would want to see, and be confident in what it is that makes you unique.


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robWhat first got you interested in screenwriting?
I loved written story telling probably as far back as 8 years old when we had a creative writing class in Primary School in Crosshaven, IRL for Miss Alice Nash. It was the earliest I can remember writing stories. At that time I had no real concept of how movies or TV were made but if I were to trace it back I’d say that class was genesis for my love of written stories. Thanks Miss Nash!

How long have you been writing for?
I’ve been writing scripts 10 years with only the last 5 years in any real sort of way. Took me some time to figure out that personally writing was going to be important to my career as a filmmaker.

Do you have a routine?
I’m a binge writer. The 15-30 mins a day writing has never quite worked for me. I look for big blocks of time to really dig in. A long weekend or a full day in the week that allow me to get into a groove is where I find my best writing. Fixing or rewriting is easier for me to do in smaller chunks but the first draft is usually several binge writing sessions.

How do you find time to write?
I look for the 2 days in a row where I can plug serious time into a script. I can knock out many pages this way, even if initially they are total garbage, I can spend less time going back over things and correcting.

How many TV Pilots have you written?
Just the one!

What gave you the inspiration for this Pilot?
I’ve been reading Charles Bowden since early 2000s and have thus been fascinated with the growth and violence of Mexican Cartels. This led me to be online reading stories and news articles that led me to my story around 2009. I just couldn’t stop thinking about these American kids who were being used as hitmen/soldiers by the Cartel. I wanted to know more about them, who they were, what led them to this place. I wrote a short film and in doing the research felt that there was much more to this story than just 2 hours of a feature film. From there I began developing the series and writing the pilot.

How long did it take to write?
I’d been working on the treatment (lightly) for about 5 years, still figuring out if it was the direction to go. Once I decided to write the idea for series it took 6-9 months to finish the pilot.

What do you enjoy most about writing?
Finishing!

What do you struggle with the most?
My expectations. I find that struggling to remain positive about my work can wane if I’m not careful about managing my expectations.

Do you feel that the film industry embraces new writing talent?
It’s tough. On one hand I get that people don’t want to read every single thing that comes there way, but as a writer you expect people who are working in the entertainment field and it is their job to find new stories to actually look for new talent. That’s why Shorescripts is so great, the judges are actually reading your material.

Have you found it difficult to get your work out there and read?
It’s a matter of staying the course. Hardly anyone actually wants to read your script. That’s why proof of concepts, decks, etc are necessary because it’s a way for Person X to get excited about your script before reading it. It’s worked for me in some cases having a short film to go with the pilot.

How did you feel when your script was shortlisted, then a finalist, and then one of our winners?
It was my best day of the year. To see your work get recognized after all different types of “no” and rejection throughout the process of writing and then trying to get it read, it feels great.

How did you hear about Shore Scripts?
A friend recommended it after I was complaining that there are no contests for TV pilots.

What goals do you have for this script and your future career?
To get the series made of course, and to continue working on stories that grab me.

If you had any advice for aspiring screenwriters, what would it be?
It’s a long process so whatever story you go and decide to tell make sure it’s something you can think about and not hate when the going gets tough. If you still like your story even when you hit endless road blocks, it was meant to write, because it’s a lot of time to put into anything. Unless a studio is paying you oodles of $ to write then you don’t have to like it at all!


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cjwellsWhat first got you interested in screenwriting?
I grew up in a residential pocket in Los Angeles that was filled with writers, artists and musicians, including quite a number of screen and television writers. I liked listening to the often philosophical and erudite conversations of the novelists and playwrights, and enjoyed the impromptu concerts of the musicians, but it was the screen folks who took us kids on cool backstage studio tours. Yeah, that was an impressionable age. Actually, I’m interested in a lot of styles of writing for a variety of mediums.

How long have you been writing for?
Since I was a kid. Screenwriting came later, in my college years.

Do you have a routine?
My writing routine is pretty simple and about five hours long. I generally sit down at my desk at about 4 a.m. (I’m a morning person). The first two hours are devoted to revising and polishing what I wrote the day before. Then comes about three hours of new drafting. Then the final hour consists of updating my working master outline and listing the scenes or sequences to write the next day. Then I walk the dogs. I have another two hour segment in the afternoon devoted to what I call “research reading”, which is sometimes for the project I’m working on, sometimes for the next project in the queue.

How do you find time to write?
I work at home for my “day job” as an editor so I never have a problem finding time to write – it’s just a matter of scheduling. My “spec” writing time is my reward time or fun time.

How many TV Pilots have you written?
Ah, gee… Four limited series premium cable-style drama pilots, two network-style drama pilots and two children’s animated educational series pilots, so eight, not counting a bunch of educational documentary pilots. In dramatic writing, I also always write the second episode in addition to the pilot. Yes, I know I’m not supposed to but who’s going to stop me? I like to see where things go so I write Episode 2 for fun.

What gave you the inspiration for this Pilot?
My pilot is based on a true crime, and I have a very accomplished background in writing about historical crimes for law enforcement publications. There have been lots of feature scripts written about this particular case over the years and I’d long wondered why they hadn’t gone into production. My conclusion was twofold, that the events, spread over at least four years, were too sprawling and that there was a better “way in”. Story is also centered around character and, in my mind, there was no central protagonist in real life. Sure, there were dozens of fascinating characters, all worth dramatizing, but either the most compelling characters were not central to the dramatic events, or they didn’t arise at the start and stay with the story to the end. Hence, I used a pair of fictional characters to delve into the real life crime. To say that I love these two fictional characters, Alvin Pike and Gus Frayne, is an understatement. I would happily write the entire 10-part series for sheer enjoyment but I’m trying to practice self-restraint by writing stand-alone scripts.

How long did it take to write?
Six days from start to finish BUT that’s only after months and months of research, reading, travelling, outlining and preparation. My Master Overview document was close to 50 pages long. So I never know how to answer the “how long” question. To be honest, I have been researching this specific case (among others) for years and years. The writing part, ultimately, is the easiest part because all the heavy lifting has already been done.

What do you enjoy most about writing?
The writing. No, really. There are times that I sit down at my desk, look up, and three hours have passed when I would have guessed only ten minutes had elapsed. It’s the total immersion in another world or time or lives that’s so invigorating. It’s like be allowed to live multiple lives.

What do you struggle with the most?
Ending a script. I don’t struggle with the endings per se, but in saying goodbye to the characters. Sometimes I dither in the last act so I don’t have to write THE END. I actually go through a brief post-script depression that can only be cured by writing the first few pages of something else immediately.

Do you feel that the film industry embraces new writing talent?
Generally speaking, no. There’s a lot of money at stake in the film business so the general view is that it’s better to go with a known entity, otherwise known as an “established writer”. I do think that the film industry (if there is such an amorphous entity) would LIKE to embrace new writing talent but finding these new writers can be a full time job, if not a life’s work. There’s probably more (figurative) slush piles in spec scripts than there are in novels. And yes, there’s probably a golden needle in that haystack but how to find that glimmer of gold is always going to be the issue. Prestigious contests (like Shore Scripts) have become a form of script vetting, which is lucky for the aspiring screenwriter, since getting read requests is not easy.

Have you found it difficult to get your work out there and read?
Yes. Impossible at first. I think I wrote/sent 400 individually crafted pitch/query letters and got… zero responses. It wasn’t until a short script I wrote was a finalist in the Page Competition that anybody responded to a query. Placing in one of the prestigious contests is one way to gain a certain amount of credibility. I’ve managed to make connections with various producers, executives, and managers since then and have gotten rewrite work or an invitation to submit.

How did you feel when your script was shortlisted, then a finalist, and then one of our winners?
I felt like I’d just won the lottery. I was delighted, excited, and humbled too, because the contest organizer indicated how high the quality of submissions were. Also, the fact that the winning script is being sent out to powerhouse production companies and industry folks is mind-blowing. Now, that’s a prize worth competing for.

How did you hear about Shore Scripts?
A UK producer told me that though it was relatively new, it was the most highly regarded contest in the UK. I thought it must be for UK writers only but when I discovered it was open to international submissions, and that they were taking television pilots, I was thrilled.

What goals do you have for this script and your future career?
For my winning pilot script? I would love it if someone would say, “Hey, do you have another episode of this series, do you?” And I could say, “I do! Here read this!” And then it wouldn’t take more prompting for me to write the other eight episodes!

Seriously, as a limited series, CROOKED RIVER is a single story spread out in the cinematic equivalent of chapters, so having written only two chapters feels like having left something unfinished. I’ve written thousands of things (no kidding) and CROOKED RIVER is one of my top favourites. Of course, I’d love it to be made. Though it’s period (1930s), it’s not big budget. As for my future career, hey, I’m open. I’m a jack-of-all-trades writer who enjoys every new project and challenge. I also like teamwork and collaboration and screenwriting, particularly television writing, affords a writer the opportunity of being a part of a very talented team. If I can make a living from my writing, great. If people enjoy reading what I write, even better.

If you had any advice for aspiring screenwriters, what would it be?
Write, write, write, read, read, read. Take a screenwriting class if you would enjoy it but learn screenwriting by reading and breaking down scripts, particularly recent spec scripts that sold. In terms of higher education, study broadly — history, philosophy, literature, physics – or whatever disciplines give you access to knowledge that your future characters might need. The more knowledge and life experiences you have, the richer your characters. Instead of listening to music on public transportation, just pretend you are. Instead listen to what those around you are saying. Listen to how people, especially those you don’t know, speak. Words they use, their tone, their verbal syntax. Talk to anyone outside of your circle of acquaintances who will talk to you. Observe, observe, observe in addition to reading widely and writing as much as you can.

Young screenwriters might also be well served to seek out aspiring directors. Team up. Make a short or a webseries to enter into a festival or to show online. And, of course, when you have something that’s ready, enter the top contests. But most of all enjoy the ride. There is no wealth but life, as John Ruskin so aptly once said so every day be exhilarated that you’re alive and that you have been blessed with that profound ability to communicate with words.


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ashWhat first got you interested in screenwriting?
As a kid, I was always writing short stories and if I could get my hands on my dad’s camcorder, I’d make dreadful short films starring my best friend and I. My first TV series was a western called “Alone on the Prairie” where we played two (9-year old) feuding cowboys. To my shame, we also did a parody of Baywatch. It’s as bad as it sounds.

How long have you been writing for?
I’ve been writing scripts as a hobby for ten years.

Do you have a routine?
Most morning I walk in the park with my other half and tell him about the script I’m working on and where I think it’s going. We talk through it and he often gives me great perspectives and suggestions. He’s a keeper.

How do you find time to write?
I quit my day job of six years in September which means I can now dedicate full days to writing (and looking up absolute crap on the net). Woohoo!

How many TV Pilots have you written?
Quarry was my first attempt at a pilot and since then I’ve written a dark drama pilot and comedy pilot. Currently working on another drama.

What gave you the inspiration for this Pilot?
I suppose much of the inspiration came from my childhood. I rode horses for years when I was very young and often came across abandoned buildings and forgotten places. Riding through a silent wood certainly fires up a busy imagination.

How long did it take to write?
About three weeks. I wrote after work and on weekends.

What do you enjoy most about writing?
Being the god of my own world is a real kick. I love to create characters that have the ability to terrify and delight in equal measures. I don’t even mind that people may not like my work. I just want it to make an impression.

What do you struggle with the most?
Having the seed of an idea is one thing, but carrying it through a five or six part series is very difficult. I think a lot of people have a good idea for a pilot, but then struggle with follow-up episodes. It took me a month to properly develop the current idea in my head to the point that I knew I had a whole series.

Do you feel that the film industry embraces new writing talent?
Obviously I would love to see more schemes that give budding writers a leg up. The BBC script window and Channel 4 Screenwriting Course are brilliant offerings and I’d love to see other broadcasters offer something similar.

Have you found it difficult to get your work out there and read?
I’m lucky to have a brilliant agent in the UK who has gotten my work to many excellent companies. Unfortunately, I’ve really struggled to get my work read in Ireland, where I’m based. It’s a much smaller industry here and sometimes it feels like a members club.

How did you feel when your script was shortlisted, then a finalist, and then one of our winners?
Massively surprised. I’ve been a finalist in several contests and won a few smaller ones but Shore Scripts is very highly regarded so I was just hoping to make the semi-finals. Having just quit my job, I was still in my “did I do the right thing?” phase, so this came at the perfect time!

How did you hear about Shore Scripts?
I entered with a feature script last year and made the QF.

What goals do you have for this script and your future career?
I think that for the moment, Quarry will be my go-to TV writing sample. It’s a genre I love to write, so ideally, I would be thrilled to get a commission to write something new or get staffed on a show of a similar genre. I’m working on a new pilot, so perhaps if companies like Quarry but want to see something else, I’ll have something ready for them soon.

If you had any advice for aspiring screenwriters, what would it be?
Persevere. Overnight successes usually tend to be years in the making. Also, write the things you want to write, not what you think you should write. When I wrote Quarry, I knew it was a bit strange and mixed supernatural with a straight up thriller. I assumed it would put people off but I didn’t care because I loved writing it. When people read it, they praised its originality, so just write whatever strikes a chord with you. Also; save money. You’ll need it.


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laurielWhat first got you interested in screenwriting?
I wrote a treatment for a music video that we ended up shooting (I used to be a singer). On set, I fell in love with production and the collaborative nature of film, and bringing words on paper to life. I ended up reading I bunch of screenplays and downloaded a free trial of Celtx. After I finished my first draft of Peaches, I sent it to a friend who’s an agent at CAA. He’s the one who really encouraged me to pursue writing and learn more about the craft.

How long have you been writing for?
Two years.

Do you have a routine?
Yes! I love routine. But I rotate through routines. No idea why, but in the summer I like to wake up super early, check emails, clean, eat breakfast, then walk about a mile to a coffee shop and write for about four hours. Then I eat again (I’d say the most constant part of my routine is eating, oh! And coffee. Coffee is big.) Then, in the afternoon, research, any freelance work I have to do or more writing until I go to an exercise class at 7 pm. Then I usually watch whatever shows I have to watch and do research on people and companies I’m meeting with during the week (prod companies, networks, what they have in development, interviews etc.) and go to sleep.

In the fall/winter this flips, so I tend to write at night and do research and freelance work during the day, I also wake up later. Not sure why it works like that, but it does.

How do you find time to write?
I’m very lucky, I get to make my own schedule since I don’t have a normal 9 to 5, but it’s all about making yourself sit down and do it. I try to keep on schedule, but you get out of rhythm when you’re taking meetings every other day and have to constantly be on email for scheduling purposes (I only check it twice a day when I’m in writing mode). I was just in pitch meetings for a month, so I’m getting back into eight hours a day writing, and sometimes just staring at a blank screen. I can feel my mind like “ugh, this again?” Haha.

How many TV Pilots have you written?
That I can show people? Or in general…

That I would ever let anyone read— One. Peaches.

That are under lock and key in my MacBook… Three. Plus drafts of features and scraps of other pilots.

What gave you the inspiration for this Pilot?
A few things, notably, my life. I was signed to a major record label as a teenager and went through the whole artist development process, so I got this inside look at the music industry and what it takes to be a “pop star” if you will. It was very unhealthy for me, I ended up being diagnosed with anorexia and going to rehab for it. But going to rehab turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life, and made me who I am today. I met amazing people, I learned a lot about myself as a person and artist. It was also a genuinely, rollicking and hilarious time.

That’s what inspired me to write Peaches. Mental illness is so misunderstood and taboo. I wanted to peel back this idea of “perfection” and innocence, and dig into the Disney-star-going-to-rehab-phenomenon in a way that was really fresh and entertaining instead of heavy. I also love filmmakers like Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino, so I watched a lot of their films and read scripts for edgy shows like Californication while writing. It bothered me that these gritty, sexy, fast-paced shows and films usually center around dudes- so I wanted to do something female-driven that felt like Snatch.

How long did it take to write?
Ha! Uh, well, any writer worth his or her salts will tell you it’s a process that’s never over, but my first draft took four days. It kind of just came out. Since then? Years. I mean I must have a hundred drafts, and now that it’s being developed, the work isn’t finished. Writing is rewriting. That is the honest to God truth.

What do you enjoy most about writing?
As Dorothy Parker once said, “I don’t enjoy writing, I enjoy having written.” Writing is painful 99% of the time, but then you get these divine moments where it just flies out of your fingers faster you can type, and those are very, very cool.

Aside from that, I love creating worlds. I love hearing people say “Oh, I’m that character! I want to be her.” Also, pitching is fun. Hearing people laugh and watching their eyes light up when you throw out episodes and jokes and character arcs. Watching execs who have heard and seen it all get excited is such a win. I assume that’s the best part about having a show made too, seeing an audience respond to it. How they fall in love with the world and how it moves them emotionally. I can’t wait to experience that!

What do you struggle with the most?
How long everything takes.

Not only does writing a script take so freakin’ long (cause it’s like two possibly three drafts before it’s even worth reading, at least for me). Shopping, pitching, deal-signing, development, I mean, years. This is not for the easily discouraged or offended. Every new person on board will have an opinion and want you to change things. It’s just the process. I get impatient at times wanting to make myself and everything else move faster, but then I just remind myself that everything, even writing one scene, is another step toward getting something made. Then I chill out and get back to work.

Do you feel that the film industry embraces new writing talent?
Yes, I do! But I have had a very charmed journey. There is definitely a push toward diversity and different kinds of content right now, people are excited about things that are outside the box and push boundaries. I’m young, female and tend to write quirky, edgy stuff so my writing’s been getting a positive response, but I can’t say that would be/or was the case even two years ago when I started.

Have you found it difficult to get your work out there and read?
No, but, then again, charmed journey. I met my manager 24 hours after I moved to LA. The first person to ever look at a pitch deck I created for another show sent it to Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, and they came on board as EPs a week later. It’s been crazy, lucky, right place/right time shit. I would say having reputable reps is key though. People will read a script and respond pretty quickly if it comes from someone whose taste level they trust.

How did you feel when your script was shortlisted, then a finalist, and then one of our winners?
Ah, amazing! So cool. I’ve never won any sort of competition or anything. This is the first! So it was very exciting.

How did you hear about Shore Scripts?
I was searching on the web for competitions that I qualified for as a new writer. I love the fact that Shore Scripts is about emerging talent and that the prize is getting your work seen by people who can actually do something with it. As I said before, great reps are everything. And you talk to them more than your friends or family so you better love ‘em. (Hi, David!)

What goals do you have for this script and your future career?
I’m overly ambitious but only because I believe in a “shoot for the moon, land in the stars” type thing. I would love to be a career showrunner and have a bunch of shows on the air that I write and produce.

If you had any advice for aspiring screenwriters, what would it be?
Move to LA.

I mean, make sure you have talent and drive. Get a few opinions, ask people who know great writing and what it takes to make it for the brutal truth. Then move to LA. It’s hard to describe, but the networking is everything.

Secondly, always be working on a couple projects. One thing will move forward while another slows. Always having irons in the fire will keep you from going crazy when someone big is taking two weeks on a read.

Oh, and read scripts. And Deadline. And watch an embarrassing amount of television.
And don’t give up. 


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robertWhat first got you interested in screenwriting?
I’ve always been a film buff since the age of twelve when my older brother took me to see “Bonnie & Clyde.” I went back two more times the following week. Screenwriting just seemed like an inevitable offshoot of my movie-going obsession.

How long have you been writing for?
I wrote a two-hundred-page novel when I was thirteen and then ripped it to shreds when it didn’t live up to my standards. So, I guess you could say the seed was planted at a young age.

Do you have a routine?
I’m always thinking and plotting. In the shower, the beach, watching “Golden Girls” reruns, pushing a cart up the supermarket aisle. When a concrete idea gels in my mind, I sit down and write.

How do you find time to write?
I know there are writers who set aside a specific time each day to write. I’m not one of them. I try. But when I have my ideas together, I write like a madman. It all spews out.

How many TV Pilots have you written?
LONG ISLAND is my first TV pilot.

What gave you the inspiration for this Pilot?
My life. Several years ago I began writing memoirs about growing up in Brooklyn, New York and moving to the suburbs of Long Island as a teenager. I’ve been fortunate to have seven of them published. LONG ISLAND is based on those recollections.

How long did it take to write?
Not very long. All of the characters were there from the memoirs. It was just a matter of outlining the dramatic narrative and deciding who was going to be included in the pilot and how they would be introduced. I belong to an outstanding writer’s group and their feedback was enormously helpful with rewrites.

What do you enjoy most about writing?
Freedom. Writing (and publishing) seven memoirs, a TV pilot and a first episode was nirvana. The satisfaction that I created something of my own. Now comes the hard part: getting it made and finding an audience who are as enthralled with the material as I am.

What do you struggle with the most?
Personally? Time. Having more of it and getting enough sleep. Professionally? Having the right people read my work. And by “right,” I mean people who connect with the material.

Do you feel that the film industry embraces new writing talent?
Absolutely. There’s a hunger for new voices. The challenge is to get yours heard.

Have you found it difficult to get your work out there and read?
It’s a struggle, but you need to get out there to get your script read. Meet people. Go to film festivals. Join (or start) a writing group. Enter contests (carefully). And network. If something’s not working, re-invent yourself. I was writing screenplays when I turned to memoir writing to quell my frustrations with the film industry. Those memoirs were published which led me to write LONG ISLAND. Which led me to this Q&A for Shore Scripts.

How did you feel when your script was shortlisted, then a finalist, and then one of our winners?
Excited, thrilled, and honored. With a tinge of nausea. That tends to happen when I’m hyper-stimulated.

How did you hear about Shore Scripts?
From friends who were aware of the high calibre of talent associated with the Shore Scripts community.

What goals do you have for this script and your future career?
I’d like to see LONG ISLAND brought to the screen as an ongoing series. The first episode is complete, and I’ve outlined the rest of the season. And since it’s based on events in my adolescence you could say that I have a wealth of material to draw from.

If you had any advice of aspiring for screenwriters, what would it be?
Several years ago, a screenwriter whose work I admire sent me a note of encouragement. I keep it on my desk next to my computer. I’ll quote it verbatim: “Keep at it and just tell your story…and stay in the moment…and stay out of your own way…and don’t attach yourself to the outcome…and don’t judge your work. Just do it…and stay disciplined because the discipline of the writer protects the writer’s talent. And just write the next word.”


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ccWhat first got you interested in screenwriting?
I was eight years old when I decided I wanted to make a career out of making movies. I was in awe of the concept of an industry that was the culmination of so many artistic and technical disciplines. At that age, I wanted to excel at everything, and working in movies was an opportunity to do everything. Children make up stories when they play with toys and costumes, and screenwriting was just a natural evolution of that creative spirit.

How long have you been writing for?
My first narrative short wasn’t written down at all – but it had a beginning, middle, and end. I must have been in elementary school. It was a stop motion animation, and perhaps only a minute long, but it had a story. A chicken laid an egg, then a snake came along and ate the egg, so the chicken chased the snake around until it caught it and stomped on it until the snake spit the egg back out unharmed. I didn’t acquire screenwriting software until long after that day, but I consider it my first completed narrative work.

Do you keep to a routine?
I admire those whose process works that way. I also work in production, so my schedule goes through erratic periods when I can’t get a word written. I can vouch for the value of writing morning pages as described in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.

How do you find time to write?
When I’m in production, and have the bandwidth to get some writing in, I’ll keep my notebook in my car, head to set early, and get a few pages done freehand in my car before call time. Usually though, I am writing when I am in between shoots. Inspiration can come at any moment so I always have my smartphone ready to note down or record an idea and email it to myself.

How many short screenplays have you written?
I’ve completed at least 30 short screenplays. Most are from my time at USC. Since college I’ve focused my writing on feature-length works and adapting one of my screenplays into a novel.

What gave you the inspiration for this screenplay?
I was on Wikipedia researching the spelling variations of the surname of one of my characters in another story I was writing. That surname had evolved from that of another Border Reiver clan, which was allied with Clan Armstrong. It was just so fascinating reading about Clan Armstrong and their history and traditions. Before I knew it I had opened up a new screenwriting document and the story was unfolding on its own.

How long did it take to write?
This was one of those rare gifts that a writer cherishes. I wrote it the same day the idea struck me. I’m not even sure that I set out with the intention that I was writing a short film. Sometimes I just write a scene because the characters and situation come to me. But after a few pages into the script, I realized that there was an extraordinary opportunity to incorporate a twist in the story that made the difference between being a scene and a short. After I finished a few passes on the script that day, I slept on it, because nothing comes out perfect so quickly. I looked at it the next day and couldn’t see anything to change. I consulted some trusted and discerning friends for notes. They only suggested changing a few lines. Compared to the lengthy revisions processes when I am writing features, this was a refreshing anomaly.

What do you enjoy most about writing?
I love envisioning the scenes as they are taking place. It is less like watching a movie and more like experiencing a dream. There is still a promise of what is to come in the unwritten details when the story makes the transition from page to screen.

What do you struggle with the most?
It can be really tough to switch gears between production and writing. I have to relocate my writer’s identity if it’s been a while since putting words on a page. Right now I am just coming off co-producing a feature film, so this contest win is really helping me find that identity again.

Do you feel that the film industry embraces new writing talent?
Absolutely. There are still a lot of people who believe in the power of original storytelling and are looking high and low for the writers who can tell those stories.

Have you found it difficult to get your work out there and read?
Knowing when to push the work out there is at least half the battle. Since I am also a producer, sometimes it is to my benefit to hold onto the rights for a project I’ve written.

How did you feel when your script was shortlisted, then a finalist, and then one of our winners?
Shore Scripts was particularly relevant for this project because of its setting. It was meaningful just to make the shortlist because that showed the story rings true to readers in the UK. That was a personal validation. Now, having made it all the way to the top, a great door of opportunity has opened for me. I feel incredibly grateful, and that the end of the competition is just the beginning of what comes next.

How did you hear about Shore Scripts?
When I realized I had such a strong short film script on my hands, I went online to see which highly regarded screenwriting competitions had short categories. Shore Scripts was frequently mentioned as one of the best to enter.

What goals do you have for this script and your future career?
I would love to see this short film made, especially knowing that it is quite producible on a reasonable budget. It could be a prologue to a feature film as well, which is something that hadn’t occurred to me until I won this competition and people started asking if it could be leveraged into a long-form piece. My career goal is simple: make great movies happen.

If you had any advice for aspiring screenwriters, what would it be?
Get out into the world. It’s great to absorb storytelling from existing works, to read books, listen to music, and explore the Internet – but you have to have an appreciation for un-curated life as well. If you only look at polished gems, you won’t recognize a raw diamond when you see one.


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kittyWhat first got you interested in screenwriting?
I made my first film when I was 14 (a partly-animated super 8 short about a man who’s attacked by the patterns on his own shirt. Don’t ask…) but soon realised proper film making is a complex operation that’s mostly about money and logistics. With screenwriting you get to conceive your film and direct it, in your own head, exactly how you want it done.

How long have you been writing for?
Always. Writing – and reading – are ports in a storm.

Do you keep to a routine?
I have kids so routine is imposed upon me. One day I hope I’ll be like Barbara Cartland, eating liqueurs and dictating from a chaise long, at my whim.

How do you find time to write?
By giving up sleep and housework. Someone clever once said: A tidy house is the sign of a wasted life. But I’m embarrassed at the state of my fridge.

How many short screenplays have you written?
Not as many as long screenplays. Oddly, they’re as much work as features.

What gave you the inspiration for this screenplay?
Having teenage daughters and despairing that today’s teens are coming of age in a porn-soaked culture where there are almost no taboos. I wanted to envision a future – but categorically not a dystopian one – in which even a glimpse of bare skin would be thrilling.

How long did it take to write?
Impossible to answer. I tend to be chewing on an idea and scribbling notes about it for months – years, sometimes – before putting it into script form.

What do you enjoy most about writing?
That I get to turn all my guilt, misery and neuroses into CASH.

What do you struggle with the most?
Stakes. As in giving a story high stakes. It makes me cross when I’m told (as I always am) that my stakes are too low. Not everything has to be life and death.

Do you feel that the film industry embraces new writing talent?
The film industry yes, the TV industry? Don’t get me started.

Have you found it difficult to get your work out there and read?
Of course. Getting an agent helps, but then you become yet another agented writer in a pile of unread scripts, and so it goes. That’s why competitions are useful – they can be a shortcut to the top of the pile.

How did you feel when your script was shortlisted, then a finalist, and then one of our winners?
Fearful. (I’m a mother, so that’s my default setting.)

How did you hear about Shore Scripts?
BBC Writersroom.

What goals do you have for this script and your future career?
I’d like to make it, please. Future career? Frankly, just trying to get to the other side of Christmas.

If you had any advice for aspiring screenwriters, what would it be?
Writers are insular so don’t forget to talk to people – I don’t mean networking, though I’m told that’s ‘important’ – I mean just go out into the world and relate to other human beings. (I know it’s hard, you just have to pretend…) 


2016-short3rdwinners-interviews

zachWhat first got you interested in screenwriting?
That’s a good question. Before I found a true interest in watching and critically thinking about film, I would write short stories and dramatic scenes for my own amusement. When I was younger I had a speech impediment which helped guide me towards the written word.

How long have you been writing for?
I’ve been writing screenplays for 7 years, starting mid-way through High School (Secondary School).

Do you keep to a routine?
What a great idea! My favorite writing routine was prescribed by Akira Kurosawa who suggested writing at least one page a day. Unfortunately I do not have a consistent routine, but I do have a system by which I outline, create scene cards along with writing exercises, etc… to complete my screenplays.

How do you find time to write?
Once I get started on a new story I’ll find any time I can to write. Whether that means staying up late at night or arriving early to meetings to find 20 minutes to jot ideas down.

How many short screenplays have you written?
Upwards of 12 multiple draft short screenplays.

What gave you the inspiration for this screenplay?
A year before I wrote “Reggie Fonders” I became fascinated with televangelism, specifically the Trinity Broadcast Network’s late night program Praise the Lord! The show really struck a nerve with me and inspired much the script.

How long did it take to write?
Let’s say 10 months for the final draft.

What do you enjoy most about writing?
I love outlining and making detailed story arcs. Seeing the big picture laid out with each scene detailed is very satisfying.

What do you struggle with the most?
Crippling self-doubt, but receiving accolades for your work is worth something!

Do you feel that the film industry embraces new writing talent?
I would say the film industry embraces new filmmaking talent over writing talent. The filmmakers who push boundaries both visually and thematically, whether it’s the American New Wave, Mumblecore or the current trend of unyieldingly postmodern films, give a voice to new and emerging writing talent.

Have you found it difficult to get your work out there and read?
Short answer, yes.

How did you feel when your script was shortlisted, then a finalist, and then one of our winners?
Great…Grand…Wonderful!

How did you hear about Shore Scripts?
Internet

What goals do you have for this script and your future career?
I want nothing more than to see “Reggie Fonders” produced with myself behind the helm or not. Either way I’d like to show people what I have to offer. Currently I work as a production designer for narrative films and commercials and want to use my art department experience and screenwriting as a platform to eventually produce my own work.

If you had any advice for screenwriters, what would it be?
Watch more movies, drink more at bars, pain can be funny, watch Kieslowski films, make short films on your smartphone. 


2016-short4thwinners-interviews

karlaWhat first got you interested in screenwriting?
My initial interest in screenwriting began when I studied film in my early 20s. I wrote a short script for a student film and I found that it suited me better to write scripts, than it did to write anything else. Because of my film studies, I was also able to change and alter scripts easily, write scripts under a time strain, and limit my scripts to a budget.

How long have you been writing for?
As a young child, I was always writing. As I grew and attempted other avenues to write, I found that scripts suited me better.

Do you keep to a routine?
I usually wake up at 4.30am and my only goal throughout the day is write five pages for that day, even if they’re terrible pages. The goal, for me, is to get the first draft down and then I can go back and edit it.

How do you find time to write?
I write whenever I get the chance. Usually I have napkins and scraps of paper and receipts full of script ideas, plot points or arcs littered in my bottom desk drawer. So, whenever I have a moment to spare, I write a line or two, a page or three, to fill my quota.

How many short screenplays have you written?
I have written 9 shorts and 1 feature (with a second feature being written now).

What gave you the inspiration for this screenplay?
It was probably a nightmare. Most of my scripts that aren’t prompted by an independent source come from my nightmares.

How long did it take to write?
This script took an hour to write, a week to edit, three years to get lost among my papers, one week to find and polish, two years to procrastinate, five minutes to send it into Shore Scripts. So about five years.

What do you enjoy most about writing?
I enjoy escaping from my usual work. As a student, most of the writing I do are essays, so writing is like a coffee break from studying, as studying is a coffee break from my scriptwriting.

What do you struggle with the most?
The thing that I struggle with the most in any script is naming my characters. It usually takes a very long time for me to start writing any script because the names don’t feel right. It’s usually two hours of name generators and googling baby names before I even begin writing a script.

Do you feel that the film industry embraces new writing talent?
Currently in Australia, more initiatives have begun to fill in the gap for new writing talent. There are always programs, competitions, and avenues to send in your writing. However, more could be done to help writers – especially those with no previous credits to their name.

Have you found it difficult to get your work out there and read?
It is difficult to get scripts to be read. During film school, I could get other students to read my scripts but few have continued with film because it is a difficult industry for anyone to be a part of. For scriptwriters, it is difficult because you need to have credits, you need to put yourself out there to get your scripts made. Fortunately, a fellow student I was still in contact with had met a director that needed a writer, and I wrote my first script for her. Since then she has continued to ask me to write short scripts for her, including my first feature length script. With at least a few film credits, a strong reference and winning fourth place in the Shore Scripts competition, I am more confident in sending my work out to be read.

How did you feel when your script was shortlisted, then a finalist, and then one of our winners?
At the time, I had honestly forgotten I had sent in a script. I came onto Shore Scripts to see how the competition was going, but I couldn’t remember if I had sent in a script, and so I searched for my name to confirm that I wasn’t on there, and amazingly I was. I didn’t expect to be a semi-finalist or even a finalist. I hadn’t even told my family or friends that I had entered my script into the competition, because I did not think it would get anywhere. I’m happy I was wrong.

How did you hear about Shore Scripts?
During school, we were asked to do research on competitions that we could be able to enter our work in. Because I was interested in scriptwriting, Shore Scripts was one of the first few results I got back and so I bookmarked it. I think I sent in a script for analysis later that year but I didn’t really think about it for a long time until I thought to send in ‘The Radio at the End of the World’.

What goals do you have for this script and your future career?
I would like to see this script be made into a short film. Only recently had I thought of how to write it into a feature length, but I still must mull it over in my head before I have anything concrete.

As for my future career, I’d like to finish my degree first, but continue writing scripts. There is a book that I have had since I was eleven that I have always dreamed to adapt into a feature length film, so I’m working up to that.

If you had any advice for aspiring screenwriters, what would it be?
…write. Write the kinds of movies that you want to see. Write five pages a day. Force yourself to do it. Write even if it’s terrible. Write when you’re tired. Write when you’re bored. Write when you’re sad, angry, happy or drunk. Laugh at yourself. Laugh at your mistakes. Make friends with your characters. But be ready to let them go. Be okay with rejection. Pay attention to criticisms. It will only make your scripts stronger. Be okay with the notion that it might not go anywhere. But hope that one day something will make it through. Just…


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