2023 FEATURE SCREENPLAY WINNER’S INTERVIEWS

GRAND PRIZE WINNER

GRAND PRIZE WINNER – KEDAR WILLIAMS-STIRLING – VIBRATIONS

What first got you interested in screenwriting and how long have you been writing for?

I wanted to create something I felt was lacking within the industry I work in. I was uninspired, that was the catalyst for my inspiration.

I have been writing since when I was at school.

 

Do you have a routine?

Time sort of loses its structure when I write, so a routine per se doesn’t really occur.

 

What gave you the inspiration for this screenplay & how long did it take to write?

Vibrations was inspired by my upbringing and looking at what was here before me. I wouldn’t even claim it’s finished yet, but I started it back in 2016.

 

What do you enjoy most about writing?

The immersion.

 

What do you struggle with the most?

The immersion.

 

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

I feel like the industry enjoys the concept but there are a lot of hurdles to get the writing itself in front of anyone, understandably.

 

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

Yes. But it’s a saturated industry so naturally, it isn’t an easy process. Gratefully, through my acting, I was able to fund a proof of concept/short film based on the screenplay which people have more time for. But it’s a difficult and exposing journey.

 

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

Disbelief. Imposter syndrome filled with so much gratitude.

 

How did you hear about Shore Scripts?

I saw Shore Scripts online. The algorithm got me! I entered without telling anyone, it was the first time I decided to hand it over to anyone outside of my immediate circle.

 

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

The goal is to make the picture! I’m so passionate about this story for reasons that are bigger than me. I really hope my future career is filled with as much inspiration as this process has fulfilled.

 

If you had any advice for upcoming screenwriters, what would it be?

If you care about it enough, do it! It’s a magical experience. 

2ND PLACE PRIZE WINNER

SECOND PLACE WINNER – RYAN BRENNAN – I’LL F*CKING KILL YOU!

What first got you interested in screenwriting and how long have you been writing for?

I’ve been an actor for longer than I’ve been a screenwriter. When I first moved to New York, I thought screenwriters/playwrights/directors were Gods, these people that were masters and knew far more than I did. As I acted on some bigger projects, and especially some short films at NYU and Columbia, you start to realize they’re just like you and me: trying their best. I would imagine growing up in a family of filmmakers or just in LA in general would be similar, you see behind the curtain and what’s all possible.

I started taking writing seriously as all this happened, and that was about 4 years ago.

 

Do you have a routine?

I wish. That sounds great.

 

What gave you the inspiration for this screenplay & how long did it take to write?

At some point, the idea of a romantic comedy where the female protagonist kills the love interest came into my head and that sounded delicious. Also, when I was in college in Nashville, TN I may or may not have allegedly hustled some pool. So, combining those two elements along with some personal stuff resulted in this script. The first draft took about 10 months… then another year or two of toiling away, listening to feedback, and improving it.

 

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I can hear my therapist screaming: “Control!” Haha, but I guess I really just live for those moments where the writing comes off the page. Like, telling a joke at a party is cool. And making an audience laugh as a performer is really great. But creating something from nothing, ideas and characters, and making someone laugh from that? Or at a base level, just… care? That’s really special. There was a moment where I showed my first script to someone who is very critical and I thought would give me honest feedback. And I watched as they laughed at all the right moments. And then, midway through the script they started crying, in the scene that I knew was the best thing I’d written (and was supposed to be a tearjerker haha). That’s the moment I knew I wanted to be a writer.

 

What do you struggle with the most?

Staying grounded. I think when you set out to write a script, you believe it’s the best thing ever. You have to. You have to believe people are going to read this and say holy sh*t this must be made. You have to believe in yourself. But doing that, and not becoming delusional, let alone being open to feedback is so incredibly difficult.

 

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

No. I think we hear about success stories and discoveries and those are so great and inspiring, and you hold on to them as you hope to become one. But those are not the norm, they are the abnormal stories. It is so much easier to invest in established talent rather than taking a chance on a newer writer. So, when I find forums that truly celebrate and help writers like Shore Scripts or The Blacklist it’s really important and helpful in this whole journey.

 

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

Yes. I’ve noticed a considerable difference just in my couple of years pursuing representation between responses to cold queries three years ago and now. I think with IMDB-Pro and the annual blacklist publishing names of writers’ reps, those agents/managers are so inundated with emails that it’s becoming standard to just delete them. And even when I somehow manage to claw my way into a meeting, all I hear everywhere is “this is a terrible time to break in.” So finding the courage, contacts, and forums to get out there regardless of that “terrible timing” is the real work in addition to writing a really great script.

 

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

I wish I could just say happy and move on haha but it’s more complicated than that. I’m honored of course, and there’s this fleeting sense of hope that you’ll advance to the next round or somehow even win. But you can’t invest in that. The more you do, the more your heart breaks when it doesn’t work out. So I felt that honor, hope, and validation; and then I stuck my nose down and got back to work writing.

 

How did you hear about Shore Scripts?

Coverfly and also Reddit, which I know doesn’t have the greatest reputation haha but once you’re able to cut through the noise there, you find other writers who relay their personal experiences which is super helpful.

 

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

I think between this feature which I’m incredibly proud of, and two pilots that also did well in the competition circuit, I have a body of work which I’ll hopefully be able to secure representation with. Past that, what’s the saying? The world is your oyster?

 

If you had any advice for upcoming screenwriters, what would it be?

When I wanted to transfer majors in college to acting, the head of the department sat me down and said if you can do anything else… you should. That is so, so brutal, and frankly not what you should say to some 18-year-old kid who is inspired and passionate about something. But I now see the honesty of it. It is good advice, but a terrible note to end on haha so I’ll go with this:

When it comes to screenwriting, If you have the gumption to actually write something, the work ethic to actually finish it (whatever that means), and the courage to open yourself up, bare your soul and show your work to somebody… essentially asking, “is this good? Am I, as an artist, as a person… good?” That takes real vulnerability. I heard an interview where Tony Gilroy said the only response a writer wants to hear when they ask for feedback on their script is this: “There is a God amongst us.” So, I guess, to all the other Gods out there pursuing this absolutely insane thing we do: Good luck, and keep going.

3RD PLACE PRIZE WINNER

THIRD PLACE WINNER – EVE FLORIN AND COREY MACKEY – THE IMPERSONATOR

What first got you interested in screenwriting and how long have you been writing for?

Movies are magical and transformative. We both love storytelling and visual arts; film merges these two passions perfectly.

In 2018, we committed to writing a movie together. We spent many overly caffeinated hours in cafés, brainstorming ideas and formulating an outline.

 

Do you have a routine?

Yes, we write six days a week for an hour. This consistency is a blessing. During Covid, we were grateful to use WriterDuet to continue our progress.

 

What gave you the inspiration for this screenplay & how long did it take to write?

Like so many things in life, it all started with a dream. In this case, an actual one! Corey dreamt of a young and an old Elvis impersonator and we agreed that this imagery would create an interesting dynamic for a film. (He also dreamt of being chased by a giant marshmallow. We opted for the Elvis theme.)

Our writing philosophy is that the audience is king, and they deserve a deeply satisfying emotional ride. It’s our goal to make each scene build to a gripping climax and create genuine arcs for all of our central characters.

As this was our first screenplay, we took the time to truly understand how to bring this philosophy to fruition. We started consistently writing in 2020 and finished in 2023.

 

What do you enjoy most about writing?

Creating something from nothing. Finding humor in the absurd and the mundane. Feeling the satisfaction of scenes building into sequences, sequences building into acts – until, voilà – we have a finished screenplay. Revising. Also, working together. Our strengths complement each other and keep the script grounded.

 

What do you struggle with the most?

Ensuring that the foundation of the film is solid and that every scene moves the story forward. Patience.

 

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

We hope so as it seems beneficial for the industry to welcome new faces and fresh ideas.

 

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

TBD! We just began the process of marketing “The Impersonator.”

 

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

This was our first entry into a screenwriting contest. It was a real confidence boost and helpful to get such positive feedback. It’s easy to lose perspective when you are so close to the material. Overall, it “Shore” felt good. (Couldn’t resist that one).

 

How did you hear about Shore Scripts?

We researched several contests. Shore Scripts quickly emerged as a top choice because of its professionalism, transparency, dedication to the craft of screenwriting, and connections in the industry. They are genuine in their commitment to helping new screenwriters find their footing.

 

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

We wrote this script with Nicolas Cage in mind and would love for him to read it. We would like to continue to produce high-quality comedy and drama.

 

If you had any advice for upcoming screenwriters, what would it be?

Show up consistently and trust your gut.

Find out more about this year’s Feature Screenplay Contest HERE.