SimplyScripts.Com Logo

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Script Shop show podcast – Philia by Nick Westfall - post author Don

Script Sho ShowI am a regular (as of April) Patreon supporter of the Script Shop Show. I am one of six supporters of the show. Nick and Allison shouted out to all six of their patrons.

They most importantly talk about this short script Philia by Nick Westfall.

Bartholomew Chester comes to terms with his own insanity through an intense self-interrogation.

Listen to the show and more importantly, please support them.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Script Shop show podcast – Girl Goes Out by Natalie C Hulla - post author Don

Script Sho ShowI am a regular (as of April) Patreon supporter of the Script Shop Show. I am one of four supporters of the show. But no shouting this week. They are at four patrons! Be the fifth!

They most importantly talk about this short script Girl Goes Out by Natalie C Hulla.

A young woman whose night out devolves into facing off with a Kardashian-esque girl squad, keeping her best friend’s image-obsessed sanity in tact, and dodging an overly touchy musician.

Listen to the show and more importantly, please support them.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Script Shop Show podcast – Museum Madness by Joseph Dutra - post author Don

Script Sho ShowI am a regular (as of April) Patreon supporter of the Script Shop Show. I am one of four supporters of the show. And, I got my shout out last week… for my lame Twitter account. Heidi got another shout out. Cheryl got one. And I got one! Apparently I’m mysterious. “Boose, your Dad is pretty cool.”

They most importantly talk about this short script Museum Madness by Joseph Dutra.

A night security guard at an art museum discovers something sinister in the works.

Listen to the show and more importantly, please support them.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Script Shop Show’s podcast of Don’t Call it a Relapse by Vaslav J. Rice - post author Don

Script Sho ShowI am a regular (as of April) Patreon supporter of the Script Shop Show. I am one of two supporters of the show. And, I’m waiting for my ‘shout-out’. Alas, again, there wasn’t one this show, too…

They most importantly talk about this ‘must-read’ short script Don’t Call it a Relapse by Vaslav J. Rice.

A ‘welcome home from rehab’ party turns chaotic as seven family members (plus the girlfriend & an NA sponsor) wait for the arrival of the ‘recovered’ guest of honor.

Listen to the show and more importantly, please support them.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Script Shop Show’s podcast of Ignore the Clock by Daniel Mulvaney - post author Don

Script Sho ShowI am a regular (as of April) Patreon supporter of the Script Shop Show. I am one of two supporters of the show. And, I’m waiting for my ‘shout-out’. Alas, there wasn’t one this show…

They most importantly talk about this ‘must-read’ short script Ignore the Clock by Daniel Mulvaney.

A recovering ex-convict and a disgraced former detective who meet up for a late dinner to discuss a potential business deal.

Listen to the show and more importantly, please support them.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Interview with Matias Caruso – Part 2 - post author Anthony Cawood

An Interview with Matias Caruso

This interview originally appeared on Anthony Cawood’s ScreenWritingOpportunities blog.


I first had the pleasure of interviewing Matias back in 2016, he’d recently won Page and his script Mayhem was about to go into production.

Well I finally got to see Mayhem a few weeks ago (on the Horror streaming service, Shudder) so I thought I’d do a very quick catch up interview with Matias and see how he was getting along…

Oh, and do check out Mayhem it’s a jet-black horror/comedy and I really enjoyed it.

Anyway, over to Matias.

Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m writing a new spec. It’s a supernatural thriller titled FAIRY.

Q: Anything in the pipeline due for release?
A: Yes, on July 25th a movie I wrote for the local market (Argentina) is opening in theaters. It’s called BRUJA (Spanish word for “witch”). Don’t know if and when it’ll be available in other countries, but I hope so.

Q: What’s the reaction been to Mayhem?
A: Luckily, the majority of reviews have been positive. I usually check rotten tomatoes before watching a movie and it’s fresh there, so I’m proud of that. There’s also been bad reviews, of course, and I read a few of them, trying to pinpoint which criticisms apply to the script in order learn a few lessons and grow as a writer.

Q: Anything you’ve learned as a screenwriter from working on Mayhem/in Hollywood?
A: You usually hear that the script is just a blueprint for the movie, which is a concept easy to understand on the surface. But I think you can only truly understand it once you see the finished film. You have to learn and accept that once other voices come into the mix, the material will change. Some changes will make you jealous (“Damn, why didn’t think of that?”) and others you won’t like them.

Q: A lot of writers are now moving to or also working in TV, have you looked/worked in TV yet or are planning to?
A: Haven’t worked on TV yet. And for now, no, I’m not planning to.

Q: Any thoughts on Hollywood/movie trends for the writers at SimplyScripts?
A: The market seems more IP driven than ever before, which makes original specs harder and harder to get traction. Lately, I’ve been trying to keep my specs’ budget down, more than before, in order to make them more competitive in this increasingly difficult arena.

Once again, thanks to Matias and all the best for future projects.


About the reviewer: Anthony Cawood is an award winning screenwriter from the UK with 4 short films produced and another 10 or so scripts optioned and/or purchased. Links to his films and details of his scripts can be found at www.anthonycawood.co.uk.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

And Interview with Paulina Lagudi, writer/director/producer of Mail Order Monster - post author Anthony Cawood

An Interview with Paulina Lagudi

This interview originally appeared on Anthony Cawood’s ScreenWritingOpportunities blog.

Paulina is the Writer/Director/Producer of the new movie Mail Order Monster (MOM). We delve into how she got started, how she gets films made and how MOM got made.

Thanks to Paulina for a really insightful interview

Q: Could you give me a little bit of background on how you got into screenwriting and filmmaking?
A: I really have to give a lot of credit to my fiancé, Cooper Ulrich, who is also the DP of Mail Order Monster. I had gone to school for theater, but after Cooper and I met, he convinced me that my ideas weren’t crappy and I was really good at bossing people around. I’ve always been casually writing, but didn’t get deep into screenwriting until I wanted to produce and direct. I never thought I was much of a writer, but now I get a lot of enjoyment out of it.

Q: From IMDb it looks like you usually write and produce what you shoot, so what came first for you writing, producing or directing?
A: Producing came first. I produced branded commercial videos first and even directed most of them. I then added writing into that mix when I wanted to make my narrative shorts.

Q: Many writers are advised to ‘film it’ themselves but many struggle to take this step – how did you do it and any advice for those contemplating this step?
A: Well, I can understand the hesitation because writing was a means for me to make work and build a directing reel. However, for those that are strictly writers, definitely just pick up even the cheapest camera and shoot it as cheap as you can first (I recommend you do this with shorts not features to start). Even if no one sees it, you’ll learn a lot about your writing through this process. I started editing my shorts and other works this year and it has taught me so much more about writing and directing. All the storytelling processes teach us more and more about how to connect our stories to audiences. So film it, then through that, recruit some collaborators that can help you expand on your next piece of writing.

Q: You also produce much of your output, how have you found the difficult area of raising funds? Any tips?
A: Well, I’ve become very poor lol. I’ve adjusted my means of living to accommodate my investment into my projects because that’s what I’m willing to do. This business isn’t easy and you have to be willing to give up a lot to continually practice your craft. When it comes to producing, you have to be really savvy. The business is changing for producers. Producers not only have to find funds and the team to make a project happen but also have to know how to market and distribute it in case that ends up being the best strategy for the project. A producer’s wealth comes from connections and time. The more people you know and the more projects you do that can “make a splash”, then you’ll level up to higher budget projects where it is easier for other people to give you money.
I’m actually redeveloping my Producer Bootcamp that takes people from script to release on their project. In general though, if your project can be made for a few thousand that is easy to raise through crowdfunding, but simultaneously builds an audience that you can stay engaged with, do THAT. But every project, especially features where it’s intended to be sold, is a start up. Look at it as a business that is selling a product. Therefore, you need a solid business plan that manages risk NOT one that shows potential gain. Investors are more likely interested in giving a project money that has a tax benefit to them even if the project makes no money. So, be savvy. There are also production and financing companies that exist in order to help find funding for your project if it has a solid package. That package typically includes some letters of intent from name actors and/or name creatives.

Q: You started with a couple of shorts, how did they come about?
A: I wish I had a simple answer for that. They kind of just happened. I would do them all SOO differently now in almost every way if I could, but those mistakes were made to learn from, so no regrets. They pretty much came from being around other creatives that were hungry to make something and learn just as much as I was. We put our heads together and created something.

Q: What did you learn from that experience and take into your first feature, Mail Order Monster (MOM)?
A: I learned how to put out fires and that really is going to be your number one job when you make a feature. You will plan and plan and plan and plan and then it will all go down the drain and you’ll have to call some audibles. However, that becomes quite simple to do when you know your story really well because of all the planning you’ve done. That’s what I learned. Planning is a must, but be prepared for all of it to go down the drain.

Q: Any advice to writer’s considering a similar approach to move into directing or producing?
A: Start now. Start small. Learn how to edit. It’s very simple now with Adobe Premiere. I taught myself how to edit and it really changed the game for me. I was able to produce so much more content for so much less.

Q: When it came to your first feature script, how do you approach structure? Do you follow any particular narrative method or model?
A: Mail Order Monster is a family film, so I definitely followed a standard 3 Act structure with it because it has to be something that kids can swallow. I find that most of the stories I’ve written tend to stay within that structure to a degree, but that’s only because that was what’s best for those stories. I think, just like anything in storytelling, it has to be customized to the story you’re telling. If you’re telling a story that connects better with the audience through a non-traditional non-linear structure, then definitely go with that. If telling your story in that way hinders people from understanding your characters and story, then maybe that isn’t the right approach.

Q: Have you ever written spec scripts and if so how did you get it out there? Did you query Producers, enter competitions, use Inktip, etc?
A: I’ve never written a spec script and have been fortunate enough to have been hired to write a film based off of Mail Order Monster and the treatment I submitted. I have searched for scripts through Inktip, though. I know a lot of fellow producers find scripts through competitions and festivals.

Q: When looking for scripts, through Inktip or elsewhere, what are you looking for and how do you decide on what to read/not read?
A: It depends. If I’m looking for a specific type of genre, then I will look for stories in that genre that I feel like have an edge or haven’t been told in that way before. As producers, we’re always looking for the edge to a script. If it doesn’t have a hook that we can pitch and sell, then it becomes very difficult for us to make it. That’s pretty much my filter for scripts. If the logline sounds like it’s something that audiences will say “Oh, I’ve never seen that before,” then I’ll read it.

Q: Any competitions or festivals in particular that you or your colleagues regard highly?
A: There are the obvious ones like the Blacklist and the bigger screenplay festivals like the Austin film festival. However, if a script is sent and it has that it won any sort of award on there, then we usually give that some merit. Generally speaking, regardless of the name of the competition or festival, your script was still chosen as a winner against others. That’s something that is given weight.

Q: Your feature has a great cast, including Charisma Carpenter, how did casting come together?
A: My fellow producer, Robert Ulrich, owns one of the top casting offices in LA with his two partners. His office, UDK casting, was essential in getting the cast I was so lucky to have had.

Q: She’s playing a very different role to what many people will be familiar with, did that present any challenges?
A: Nope. Charisma is a great actress, so she took on the role that was written very well. She’s a big collaborator so she brought a lot to the character that caused me to do rewrites on the entire script and really elevated it.

Q: You have a child star and co-star at the heart of this movie, what are the challenges involved and the logistics for things like schooling?
A: This is where the producing hat comes on because it’s important to write down the pros and cons of your shooting location. So all the kids in the film were Kentucky locals and we shot in the summer, so we didn’t need any studio teachers or schooling.

Q: I loved MOM, great family film but can be a difficult genre – what has the critical and commercial reaction been?
A: Thank you so much. Critically, it’s had a pretty solid reaction. People either love it or just like it and can see the flaws in it, which I can see every time (we shot a low budget movie with kids in 17 days lol). The overall consensus critically and commercially is that if people can watch it with kids or with a child’s point of view, they really enjoy it. They enjoy it even more if they are a stepparent. I’ve had kids who have been adopted or are step kids cry to me after seeing the movie because they related to it.
On the other hand, it turns out middle aged and young men who aren’t married or have kids don’t like it at all. Although, they weren’t really my demographic when I was making the film.

Q: Where can people see MOM and your short films?
A: MOM can be found on iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Googleplay, Xbox, Vudu, DVD’s at Walmart (February 5) and Showtime (February 6 I think). Some of my short films can be found online at boyish.media under my name, Paulina Lagudi, and also on my Instagram TV @paulinalagudi.

Q: You’ve also worked as just the Producer on things like ‘The Lover’, how different is this when you’ve not got creative control?
A: To be honest, it’s not really my favorite. It depends on the project really. For feature films, which there are a couple coming up soon, I actually like just being a producer if I’ve been hired in that capacity. I find there’s so much creative work to be done when it comes to the marketing and distribution strategy. It was actually too much to handle when doing that on MOM and directing and producing day to day on set.
It is very different, though, because you’re not just answering to yourself. There’s a lot more personality management. But as long as the story and project is what’s at the highest priority, it all ends up working out. Ego is the enemy.

Q: What other projects are you working on now and when can we next expect to see your name on the credits?
A: As mentioned earlier, I was hired to write a feature film for a production company, so I’ve been working on that as well as two other feature scripts. Hopefully, we’ll be shooting one of them this year for me to direct and produce also. I’m also producing a couple movies with some friends of mine, which is always fun when you’re working with talented, hardworking creatives.

Q: Screenwriters get told that there are all sorts of formatting ‘rules’ that they must adhere to… any specific things that would turn you off or stop you reading a spec script?
A: Well, it has to look like a script. I know sometimes people want to get fancy, but you can’t write a script like an essay or a poem or whatever. I don’t know. It’s not fun for the reader. It’s easier if you just follow script format. I also HATE it when a script is sent and it’s clearly a first draft and has tons of spelling and grammatical issues….unless it’s my friends and they’ve told me this ahead of time. In general, if you’re sending out a first draft of your script to producers, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

Q: What’s the best and worse screenwriting/filmmaking advice you’ve been given?
A: Well, on my first draft of MOM, I was told to stop and not write lol.

Now for a few ‘getting to know Paulina’ questions

Q: What’s your favourite film? And favourite script, if they’re different.
A: I have so many favorite films, but the one at the top of my list recently is Andrea Arnold’s “Fish Tank”. Second to that is always “Shame” by Steve McQueen. I don’t have any favorite scripts that I can recall, but I did just read a script from fellow writer, Marc Prey, recently that was one of the best I’ve read in a very long time.

Q: Favourite author and book?
A: I don’t think I’ve ever stuck with reading just one author’s books other than the entire “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” series, which I love! So besides Steig Larrson, my other favorite books are “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zaffon, Ryan Holiday’s “Ego is the Enemy” and “Obstacle is the Way”, and John Irving’s “A Prayer for Owen Meany” (that one always stuck with me since I was a kid).

Q: Wine, Beer, Gin… or something else?
A: You just named my 3 favorite things! I love a great Gin and Tonic. My dad has a wine cellar so always grew up on wine. I really love Ports and dessert wines. My fiancé and I also love craft beers. He’s the whiskey drinker, but I still haven’t been able to get on that level.

Q: Favourite food?
A: Oof this is a hard one because I’m a huge foodie, I love to cook, AND I’m Italian. My favorite food might have to be my fiancé’s grilled bone in rib eye steak. It is pretty phenomenal. Second to that is pasta with my homemade tomato sauce.

Q: Any other interests and passions?
A: I study Krav Maga. So far, I’m two more tests away from being a blue belt. Context to that is a blue belt is two belts down from a black belt.

Q: Any final thoughts for the screenwriters of SimplyScripts?
A: This industry is a long game. It takes a lot of practice and a lot of persistence. I recently came across this quote that was very helpful to me, so I’ll share it with all of you:
“All of us who do creative work…we get into it because we have good taste. But it’s like there’s a gap, that for the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good…It’s really not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good. But your taste — the thing that got you into the game — your taste is still killer, and your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you.” – Ira Glass (an excerpt from Ego is the Enemy).

Once again, thanks to Paulina for such a great interview.


About the reviewer: Anthony Cawood is an award winning screenwriter from the UK with 4 short films produced and another 10 or so scripts optioned and/or purchased. Links to his films and details of his scripts can be found at www.anthonycawood.co.uk.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Interviews: Mark Renshaw - post author Anthony Cawood

An Interview with Mark Renshaw

This interview original appeared on Anthony Cawood’s ScreenWritingOpportunities blog.

Q: Could you give me a little bit of background on how you got into screenwriting?
I used to write short spoof stories starring people I worked with. They became quite popular in the office. A guy called Al Lougher read one of them and approached me to see if I was interested in writing some screenplays for him to shoot. I said yes for a laugh and found a love for the craft of writing scripts.

Q: And how long have been writing screenplays, and you write fiction too – which came first?
Fiction first. Can you believe I switched from prose to scripts because I thought screenplays would be easier? HAHAHAH! What a loon!
Anyway, I dabbled around for a while just writing spoofs and really bad scripts and didn’t really take it seriously until 2013. That is when I threw away everything I thought I knew, bought a load of screenplay writing books and started from scratch. That’s also when I joined [the] Simply Scripts [Discussion Board].

Q: You have taken direct action with some of your work and helped get them made, what made you take this approach?
I quickly realised that I had a lot of competition. There are thousands of scripts online from writers who are literally begging to get them produced. Most seem willing to offer their scripts for free just to get their first sniff. There are also thousands of entries from annoyingly talented writers in every major screenwriting competition out there.
At first I just believed folks would read my brilliant scripts and be queuing up to produce them. That bubble quickly burst. I decided to take action to get one produced myself. I saved up for a year, wrote the cheapest script I could come up with, snagged a director (having the funds REALLY helps with this) and got it made.
The idea was to showcase what one of my scripts looked like on screen, made with just the money from my own pocket, and hopefully give others the confidence in my work. I hoped this would help me stand out.
That didn’t actually happen the way I imagined. It took over three years, producing three of my scripts at my own expense, taking the films around the festival circuit and spending ages promoting them before I started to get the types of queries I’d been hoping for on day one.

Q: You made a great short (and starred in it!), I Am Peter Cushing, back in 2002, was that your first foray into movie making?
It was the first short film I made and it was great fun. I made that with Al Lougher and we filmed it guerrilla style. I wrote and starred in it as the main character and used my family and friends as extras. Al borrowed a camera and we just went out, found locations, set up, took some shots and ran as we didn’t have permission to shoot anywhere.
Prior to Peter Cushing we shot a trailer for a feature film that doesn’t exist called, “Winston: The Last Known Jamaican Witch Hunter.” Can you believe we got Danny John Jules from Red Dwarf interest in making a film based on that? It all fell apart when he found out we didn’t have a clue what we were doing lol but Al kept the voice mail with him agreeing to it for ages. He may still have it!

Q: What did you learn from that experience and your subsequent shorts?
Being involved in the script to screen process is one of the most valuable lessons a screenwriter can experience. Collaborating with a director on the script is an education. It’s an amazing but sometimes challenging process. The script will change, a lot! Some is unavoidable due to budget, location etc. some simply because the other person wants to pour some of their creativity into the story. The screenwriter must learn to be open to collaboration, to weave in the changes without breaking the spine of the story. You must also learn when to stand up and challenge changes.
Also, hearing your dialogue spoken by an actor is incredible. You instantly know what works and what doesn’t and the actor helps you figure it out.

Q: Any advice to writer’s considering a similar approach?
DO IT! Even If you need to use you own phone, family and friends. Making I Am Peter Cushing and that spoof trailer was one of the most fun, educating experiences I’ve ever had.

Q: You have a number of projects, including features, in development – what’s the situation with them?
I have a TV series I’ve developed called The Nearscape. It took me a year to write the pilot script, TV bible and supporting materials. I also made a proof of concept short film called The Survivor: A Tale From The Nearscape. I have the pilot script in all the major TV writing competitions, the film in film festivals and pitching the idea to however I can. I realise I’ve got zero chance of getting a big budget sci-fi TV series sold as I’m an unknown, but I’m passionate about the Nearscape and thought, why not try.
Saying that, it’s scoring well so far and reaching the final stages in some of them. I got an email from the BBC today as I was writing these answers telling me it reached the final 4% of the Drama Writer’s Room group. It also got to the final of the Inshore Fellowship.
Apart from that I’m writing a feature length version of Cyborn. My writing time is extremely limited, so those two are my main focus for now, although I’ve loads of ideas I dabble with.

Q: You’ve written a ton short scripts, why do you think they are useful?
They are the backbone of my writing. Due to work and family commitments, writing is a hobby. I may get 3 hours a week to write something, sometimes no time at all, so a short script or story is very much more achievable for me.

Q: Did you start with short scripts and then move to features?
I concentrated solely on shorts for the first few years, then half hour TV pilots. Last year was the first time I attempted a one hour TV pilot. I have tried writing features before but they’ve been disasters.

Q: When it comes to feature scripts, how do you approach structure in your scripts? Do you follow any particular method?
My previous two features were horrendous. Due to the time constraints mentioned, I avoided features for ages. Then I suddenly attempted to write some with no preparation or structure. The results where vomit drafts that were beyond hope. I wrote myself into corners I couldn’t get out of without scrapping the whole thing and starting again.
With Cyborn, I’m trying to do it properly. Due to my time limits I needed help, so I’ve been following the guidelines in the book, The Coffee Break Screenwriter: Writing Your Script Ten Minutes at a Time by Pilar Alessandra. I was luckily enough to attend some of her classes at the London Screenwriting Festival last year and she signed a copy for me. The book breaks down the planning, structure and writing of a feature into easy to follow ten minute segments.
So far I’m loving it. I’ve written the whole outline including character bios, broke it down into acts, sequences and scenes yet I’ve not written a single page of the script yet! I’m finally ready to begin this weekend. The plan is to treat each sequence as a short script, but one that is already planned as a connection to the next. I’ll spend the week planning the ‘short’ in my head just like I do for the Simply Scripts one week challenges, and then write it in a day. Rinse and repeat the following weeks until the first draft is done.
That’s the plan anyway!

Q: What was the first feature you wrote and how did you get it out there? Did you query Producers, enter competitions, use Inktip, etc?
The first feature I wrote was called Impulse. I paid £100 to have it professionally reviewed and it got such a bad report, I never showed it to anyone else and binned it.
The second was called The Twelve Step Killers. This was another vomit draft. I put it on Inktip to test the waters, got around 5 requests to read the script but no follow ups. I’m not surprised though, it was terrible.

Q: Your work has done well in a variety of competitions (congrats!), have you received interest from agents/producers afterwards?
Rarely. I got asked for some horror features after I reached the finals of Shriekfest in 2017 but I didn’t have anything suitable. Apart from that, nothing. I promote my wins as much as I can on social media but the queries I’ve had so far are a result of listings on Inktip, Simply Scripts, Script Revolution etc.

Q: What are your thoughts on screenwriting competitions in general?
In my opinion and experience, a lot of these competitions (and film festivals) are cash cows that take advantage of writer’s and independent filmmaker’s hopes and dreams. They are like a lottery in many ways. When I was at the London Screenwriting Festival I also attended a few sessions held by agents and producers. They said the only competition they take notice of is the Nicholl Fellowship.
So unless you are taking part in the top screenplay competitions in the world (there’s only about 10 which the industry recognise and thousands enter these) the rest are just digital laurels you can put on your writer’s CV that may help build your portfolio, but they won’t impress the big boys.

Q: Your feature script, Cyborn, recently won the Inroads Fellowship Awards, what’s the prize and what next for Cyborn?
The prize was supposed to be a trip to LA to attend the Robert McKee Story seminar. Unfortunately, the seminar changed dates late on and it was over before Inroads finished. So, they’ve given me a cash alternative of $1,200 (£814) and I’m going to the London seminar in May instead. It’s not LA but I’m still excited about it.
I also get Inktip listing and some copyright vault freebies. The main prize is they are going to promote me and my work for the next 12 months. I’ve no idea what this entails, they are getting a press release ready now. Whatever happens, I’ll try to take advantage of it.
As for Cyborn, I’m desperately trying to turn a three-page short into a feature as quick as I can in case someone asks for it!

Q: You’ve managed to go a step further than many with some of your work gaining distribution in a variety of places, how’d you go about that?
I got a bit lucky there. The distributors saw my film online and approached me with a distribution deal. This is a first for me, it is a 3-year deal, so I’ll see how it goes.

Q: And where can people see these released works?
I Am Peter Cushing, Surrender and The Survivor: A Tale From The Nearscape are all on Vimeo and YouTube. The links are on my website at www.Mark-Renshaw.com. No More Tomorrows and the So Dark episodes are on Amazon Prime.

Q: There are a ton of people out there who offer coverage services, position themselves as gurus etc, what’s your view on such services?
I’ve used such services for spelling an grammar. But if I want an opinion on the script as to the story, characters etc. I’m not willing to trust some anonymous person’s opinion who I have no idea how much experience they have. I like to get feedback on trusted beta readers, fellow writers at Simply Scripts and other writing groups I’m a part of. Some of these people’s work I’ve seen and really admire. I tend to reach out to those for feedback.

Q: What are your thoughts on the business side of screenwriting, getting your scripts ‘out there’ and networking to make connections?
I love writing. Producing, promoting, networking; I pretty much hate all that. I wish I had a producer to do such things but I don’t, so it’s down to me for now. It’s a necessary evil, so I put on a mask and do it.

Q: You are fairly active online, SimplyScripts, Facebook groups and the like, why do you think these are important?
I think staying in touch with other writers is very important. We are like a clan, we support each other, which I do like. Sometimes it’s a very naughty distraction though. I end up checking Facebook when I should be writing sometimes.

Q: If you’ve used services/sites like Inktip, SimplyScripts, The Blacklist, what’s your view on this type of model for screenwriters to get their scripts seen, and hopefully picked up?
Anyway to get your script out there is gotta be good right? I just don’t like paying a lot for these things, so I’ve used Blacklist but didn’t really like it. Similarly, I use the free Inktip short listings but the paid for section is used sparingly.

Q: What other projects are you working on now and when can we next expect to see your name on the credits?
Due to time constraints I can only focus on one thing at a time. For now it’s writing Cyborn while promoting Nearscape and some shorts. I do collaborate with Al Lougher a lot and I’m always working on something with him. The latest was a brilliant short film called The Dollmaker, written by our old Simply Scripts pal Matias Caruso. I helped out with the producing on that, don’t think I got a credit (yet), but I honestly don’t mind as I just love collaborating with another creative like Al. The Dollmaker is killing it at the horror festivals at the moment.

Q: What’s the best and worse screenwriting advice you’ve been given?
Some feedback notes I’ve received from film festivals have been horrendous. The last bunch of notes I got for Nearscape was basically a list of TV shows they recommended I watch…and I’ve seen them all lol. The best, was to get honest feedback from people who don’t know me and therefore have no vested interest. Family & friends are nice, but they won’t tell you the truth.

Now for a few ‘getting to know Mark’ questions

Q: What’s your favourite film? And favourite script, if they’re different.
Predator. Cheesy I know but I think that film is pretty much perfect. My current favourite script is The Expanse TV pilot.

Q: Favourite author and book?
Legend by David Gemmell.

Q: Beer or Wine (or something else)? And which variety?
I quit alcohol a little over 4 years ago. Now my guilty pleasures are coffee and chocolate.

Q: Favourite food?
See above!

Q: Any other interests and passions?
Just the usual boring stuff, reading, music, training vampire dragons etc.

Q: Any final thoughts for the screenwriters of SimplyScripts?
You guys are amazing. You are creators. Most people on this planet, they destroy stuff. You are the creators of stories; there are not many greater callings in my opinion. The feedback and support I’ve received on Simply Scripts have been priceless. The One Week Challenges, I’ve enjoyed them more than any film festival. Keep up the great work!

Thanks to Mark for taking time out for the informative interview and check out his site for links to some great material!

About the reviewer: Anthony Cawood is an award winning screenwriter from the UK with 4 short films produced and another 10 or so scripts optioned and/or purchased. Links to his films and details of his scripts can be found at www.anthonycawood.co.uk.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Interviews: Lisa DeVita, writer of Peelers. - post author Anthony Cawood

If you’ve not seen it… Peelers is a fun filled horror film set in a strip club, more details here.

I was lucky enough to catch up with the writer recently and Lisa Devita was good enough to spend some time answering all my dumb questions and her answers are insightful, entertaining and often hilarious – thanks Lisa!

Q: Could you give me a little bit of background on how you got into screenwriting?

I was coming upon the last semester of my tenure at university… decision time… what do I want to do with my life once I must leave the sanctuary of school?  I was at a loss as to what to do with a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in English. My choices were to become a school teacher or get a job at a video store. I wasn’t very keen on either and then it hit me… all my life I’ve been a storyteller. I majored in English because I loved reading stories and I loved writing them. As a kid I’d spend hours in front of the mirror, not doing my hair and trying on makeup, but acting out plays, doing stand-up comedy and hosting variety shows. Just before I graduated I finally woke up and saw the answer that had been sitting right in front of me the whole time, I was just too wrapped up in university life to see it. But I wasn’t sure what type of writing I wanted to do so I enrolled in two courses that were quite different to see which one appealed: Copywriting and Screenwriting. The Copywriting class was interesting and fun but I didn’t like the whole consumerist angle to it and the storytelling aspect was kinda limited to an ADHD audience. The Screenwriting class however, grabbed me hook, line and sinker. I fell in love with every aspect… the character development, the dialogue, setting the scene, the hero’s journey, the plot twists, learning the lesson. All of it had me at “hello.”  The next day, I applied to Vancouver Film School’s Writing for Film & Television program and have never looked back.

Q: Peelers is your first IMDB credit for Writing, but you have a number of credits in Editorial capacities – what did these entail?

I worked in Post Production mainly as a coordinator helping to streamline the editorial process. I loved it. Post Production is amazing to behold how it all comes together. I also worked in research and story development on a Factual TV series called “Vanity Insanity” that delved into the world of plastic surgery… very interesting and scary stuff. It was an amazing experience as I got to work in the area I’m most interested in (Story Development). I also worked in Clearances. Worst. Job. Ever. You’re basically asking permission to use someone’s likeness in a show, or a logo, or some footage, and nine times out of ten the answer is either “NO” or “what are you going to do for me?”  Although the best answer I ever got (from an actor whose likeness we wanted to use) was a 2-page, single-spaced essay on how the work I was doing (in this case clearances on a documentary on vampires in film) was the work of the devil and if I only chose to follow Christ, that my life would be better for it. I still have the letter. It’s gold. Either way, I’m not one to ask for permission, it’s just not in my nature. So I quit very soon after.

Q: Was this experience useful to your screenwriting?

I would say this experience was far more useful in the world of office politics and learning how the whole process of TV making happens, and how building and nurturing relationships is essential. But the number one thing I learned that has been the most important lesson and carries me through my filmmaking career to this day, is that no matter what happens, if your lead actor drops out at the last minute, or your camera gear isn’t working on set, or the caterer doesn’t show up, that there is ALWAYS a way to get it (your shooting day) done. You just have to have hustle and creative chutzpah, but there is a way. It was the producer of the factual TV series we were working on who taught me that, Laura Watson. Sadly, she passed away a few years ago from breast cancer, but I’ve never forgotten that lesson (and watched her implement it on multiple occasions). In fact, we dedicated Peelers to her memory because there’s no way we could’ve made the film without remembering her lesson.

Q: Did you write anything else prior to Peelers, Shorts or Features?

Yes, I’ve written a couple of features and many, many shorts. I love shorts. I find them so easy to write. All you need is one great idea, or a great twist. I know they’re not the best way to try and make a living (unless you’re Pixar) but I still love writing them.

Q: And Peelers, was that spec or commission?

It was on commission. I’m supposed to get a dollar for the script (still haven’t seen it though). Such is the reality of indie filmmaking.

Q: How did you hook up with Seve (Peelers Director)?

Sevé’s sales agent on Skew (his first feature film) suggested he make another horror film because they’re easier to sell in the indie market. His only two requirements were that it have more blood and more nudity. And while I’m all for nudity (who isn’t?), Sevé didn’t want to make a film with gratuitous boob shots. So he thought: where can a film take place in which nudity is the norm?  And the location for Peelers was born. At this time we were both working at one of the biggest production houses in Vancouver, BC within the post production department (he was a colorist and I was a post production coordinator). We had played baseball together a few times outside of work and therefore Sevé knew that I was working on my own screenplays, so he pitched me the idea of writing a horror script that takes place in a strip club. I used to live in Las Vegas so I had lots of source material and so I jumped at the chance to write the script. In fact, the story for Peelers was inspired by a crazy incident that happened to me while at a strip club in Las Vegas. But I’ll have to save that story for another time… Anyway, we both have the same sense of humor and we worked really well together so it turned out to be an amazing director-writer partnership where one person is a little nuts (the writer) and the other person reels it in and edits for structure and focus (the director).

Q: Did you have to change the script much to get the film made?

The basic concept for the story didn’t change but definitely a lot of the kills did. In my initial drafts I had some crazy kills that would’ve involved some pretty high tech special effects (or highly skilled visual effects) both of which we did not have access to and when Sevé read them in my script he kindly reminded me that we didn’t have a $25 million dollar budget, so it was back to the drawing board for many kill scenes. Basically, we discussed which kills we wanted to keep the most and spend our budget on. I was allowed to keep two or three, but the rest had to be “finessed” into indie budget standards in order for us to shoot.

Q: Peelers is proper old school exploitation, how much fun was it to write?

A ton of fun!  As most of my friends and family can attest, I’m a teenage boy trapped in a woman’s body. I love crossing the line, pushing the envelope. I love potty humor and boobs. I have no filter and so this is how I approached the screenplay. Of course this is where Sevé makes for such a great creative partner – he encourages me to write sans filter on the first go-round, just get everything out there on paper, but then he sees the big picture (and the budget) so he’s a pro at knowing what to keep, what needs finessing and what needs to go. Sure I fight for my favorite stuff to stay in the picture; sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, but in the end, I trust Sevé and it’s always a learning process. The ending for example (I won’t give it away) Sevé and I debated a long time whether to keep it or not. We worried that people might think we went too far and end up hating the entire movie because of it. But in this overly politically-correct world, I’m always looking to offend, so we decided to keep it. And I’m glad we did because people go nuts for it. Audiences scream with devilish glee at it. And then turn around and say, “I can’t believe you went there.”  And that’s my aim as a writer (well, one of my aims). I definitely was a champion for more humor in the script and Sevé wanted more of a serious tone, so those moments in the film that are cheesy and goofy and sick and twisted are my doing and the more pensive, somber moments have gone through the “Sevé edit.”  In the end, I think we got the balance just right. We’ve had so many reviewers write that we got the mix of gore and humor bang on, which is so great to hear especially after months of back and forth deliberation wondering if we went too far down either end of the dark/dreary or ridiculous/cheesy spectrum.

Q: And you were also involved in the film’s production as a Producer, what exactly did this entail? 

Producer = Do every role that you don’t have crew for (for indie filmmakers anyway). All you have to do is watch the credits roll at the end of Peelers and you’ll see mine and Sevé’s name on there at least 20 times (and of course there’s lots of stuff we didn’t bother taking credit for). And most of the roles I took on, I had zero experience in. But you learn pretty quickly, because if you don’t, there’s no movie. To this day (three years after production) I still have plantar fasciitis and achilles tendonitis from being on my feet all day, everyday during production. I refer to them as my battle scars. I worked extensively in acquiring sponsorship and music for the soundtrack, set design and construction, costumes, prop acquisition and rentals, location scouting, craft services and first aid to name a few. I was even a half naked body double. It was the hardest I’ve ever worked in my whole life. And I did it without pay. And I loved it. Sure there were tough times. But at the end of it all, it was truly amazing to take it all in and say, “Look at what we did!”  Truly unbelievable.

Q: And how was the film funded, it wasn’t through poker winnings was it?

No poker winnings involved this time, haha, although it was seriously considered. And that’s no exaggeration… as indie filmmakers, you honestly consider EVERY possible way to raise funds for your film and since I’m pretty consistent at coming out ahead when I play, we toyed with the idea of me going to Vegas for a few months to “raise” money. Ultimately, we decided against it, as it was too time-consuming and not as cost effective as we imagined. We funded the film however, through all of our own money that we saved up from working our asses off at our paid jobs, lots and lots of favors, begging, loving parents, and Kickstarter. Although I wouldn’t do Kickstarter again. It’s much more bother than it’s worth.

Q: You’ve been on the road touring festivals with Seve/Peelers, fun or grind?

Although I’m definitely a “glass-is-half-full” kinda person, if I’m being totally honest, I’d have to say it was more grind than fun. Don’t get me wrong, some festivals are great. For example, A Night of Horror Festival in Australia was amazing, but that’s because it’s run by an amazing guy (who has become a good friend now). The Julienne Dubuque Fest is also incredible too. Also, run by an amazing woman. But most festivals are a total waste of time and money. It is truly the people running the show who make or break a festival and most are definitely broken. After our festival run I was totally burnt out and despondent from the overall experience. I will definitely be much more selective when choosing which festivals to attend in the future.

Q: And where are you with Peelers now, distribution all sorted and festivals finished?

Distribution is continually ongoing but so far we have distribution in Canada, USA and overseas. Festivals are done now, although we occasionally get asked to screen at various venues and conventions still. We even screened at a Drive-in in Shelbyville, Indiana this year!  Very cool.

Q: And where can we see Peelers?

We are now all over the USA… RedBox, VOD, iTunes, Amazon.com, etc. Many foreign countries are picking us up and Canada is slowly coming along… I know that we are on VOD now. More to come…

Q: There are a ton of people out there who offer coverage services, notes, feedback and position themselves as gurus etc, what is your view on such services?

I’m sure those services are great if you can afford them, but I think the best script doctors are the ones who love stories, and yes, that’s probably most everyone, but that’s because I believe storytelling is an innate gift in all of us, some of us just practice it more often than others. My brother and sister for example are excellent script doctors. My sister is a book worm, and I give her my scripts to read all the time. I trust her because she knows instantly what works and what doesn’t, she has a great sense for pacing and flow in a story and yet she’s never been to film school or taken a course in screenwriting. My brother has seen every movie out there. He can tell you exactly what’s wrong with Star Wars Episode 3 before you even think about it. So I trust his input implicitly. You watch enough movies and read enough books, you know how a story is supposed to work, even if you’ve never written one yourself. Besides, the professional script doctors I’ve met are jaded, bitter and don’t have the time to watch movies or read books. I’d rather give my script to someone who wants to help me find the magic, not someone who wants to see me burn in hell, hahaha.

Q: What are your thoughts on the business side of screenwriting, getting your scripts ‘out there’ and networking to make connections?

I know networking is essential in order to make connections, in order to get your work out there, in order to get discovered, in order to make a living off of writing, and so on and so forth, but I just loathe it. I live inside my head, I don’t want to go out into the real world and make small talk. Besides, no one wants to talk to the writer (even though writers are the most interesting of the bunch!)  But alas, if I want my work to be discovered, it is what I must do. And so, in between my writing and my drawing and my reading and my daydreaming, I plan on getting out there… I even got Larry King’s book on small talk entitled: “How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere.”  It really is an amazing book, very helpful. I’ll be testing it out at an industry party soon. After a few drinks of course.

Q: If you’ve used services/sites like Inktip, SimplyScripts, The Blacklist, what’s your view on this type of model for screenwriters to get their scripts seen, and hopefully picked up?

I haven’t used these services yet but I’m definitely up for doing so one day when I become that proud parent who has a baby script I’d like to show off to others. I don’t know any screenwriters personally who’ve found success with any of these services, but I’ve read the loglines on The Blacklist website and some of them are great, so I’m sure, or at least I hope, these screenplays will get picked up.

Q: What are your thoughts on screenwriting competitions, entered any yourself, any success?

I think they’re all a scam. Just a way to make starving artists starve even more. I’d only enter a competition if the fee was waived. The fees are just way too high on the majority of competitions and only a very select few are worthy of your time. Similar to festivals.

Q: You worked for the World Series of Poker and I believe you play a bit too, what’s the highest level/buy in you’ve played at?

While I was working for the WSOP I was allowed to enter the Media-Celebrity event since I was part of the media. It takes place halfway through the World Series tournament and there are approximately 500 entrants. The buy-in is taken care of for you and your final table winnings (if you make it) are donated to the charity of your choice. It was an absolute blast. A few times I was down to my last chips, in serious danger of busting out, but I miraculously built up my stash each time. Celebs at my table at different points in time during the tournament included Jennifer Tilly (she’s very good, very aggressive player), Dick Van Patten and his son Vince Van Patten, Shannon Elizabeth and even the legendary Ron Jeremy (what an entourage he had… ) Amazingly, I actually made it to the final table and busted out in seventh place overall! Because of this, I’m listed on Card Player’s website (which in the poker world is a big honor, haha).

Q: How did you get into poker?

I was living in Las Vegas at the time and I’d always been intrigued by the game. I love games in general as I’m highly competitive. So one day, my boyfriend at the time taught me how to play. After a few home study sessions he surprised me on my birthday with a night out at a live poker table in a real casino. I started with 40 dollars at a 1-2 table. I was SO nervous. Each time the dealer called action on me I could barely hear him over the deafening thudding of my heartbeat. Whenever I placed a bet my hands shook uncontrollably, I could barely hold the chips without dropping them. I don’t know if anyone else noticed this but my boyfriend sure did, telling me it was so obvious. To this day my hands still shake whenever I have good cards, so friends and family always look for this (my poker “tell”) and avoid playing against me when they see it. I’m still working on learning to control it. Anyway, two hours later, I had made $200 so we decided to leave on a high, nothing too greedy since it was my first time. I was absolutely hooked on the game from that day forward. It was a great birthday.

Q: What projects are you working on now and when can next expect to see your name on the credits?

I’m all over the map at the moment. I’ve written a sci-fi novel (first draft) that is in desperate need of a re-write (but I’m excited to do so). I’ve also finished a family-comedy feature film script (quite the departure from a stripper horror). And I’m currently working on a dark comedy.

Q: You write fiction and factual too, how do you find it swapping between disciplines?

I find it much harder to write factual, and a bore, I can’t help but embellish. I’m not a fan of reality.

Q: What’s the best and worst screenwriting advice you’ve been given?

Best advice:  “You can’t be afraid to look dumb, especially when writing comedy. You have to get through all the dumb stuff in order to get to the gold.”

Worst advice:  “Write only what you know.”

Now for a few ‘getting to know Lisa’ questions

Q: What’s your favourite film? And favourite script, if they’re different.

Well, I have a Top Ten List of favorite films of course, but my top 3 are:  The Natural, The Power of One and The Hangover. My favorite script however is Midnight Run by George Gallo. It is near perfect in every way. I never get sick of it.

Q: Favourite author and book? 

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. It blew my mind. I didn’t want it to end.

Q: Beer or Wine (or something else)? And which variety?

A Moscow Mule.

Q: Favourite food?

Steak. And cheese. And ice cream. And burgers. Let’s just sum this up and say “COW” is my favorite food and everything that comes from cow. Butter too. Butter makes everything better.

Q: Fave type of poker? Favourite player?

7-card stud, hands-down. The “Old Gentlemen’s Game” as they call it. That’s the game I first learned to play at a casino. But with the rise in popularity of Texas Hold’em, it is near impossible to find a 7-card stud game anywhere these days. So I had to eventually learn Texas Hold’em. And while I do enjoy it, I much prefer 7-card stud. Texas Hold’em is mostly balls and luck. But 7-card stud is a thinking game of patience and strategy and timing. That’s probably why you’ll only see old men playing it. And me. Favorite poker player:  Jesus aka Chris Ferguson. I love his calm, quiet demeanor. He was so cool and unassuming. And a brilliant player. No loud showboating like Phil Hellmuth or Mike “The Mouth” Matusow. For the record, neither of those guys shut up. Ever. I was there and witnessed this first-hand at the WSOP. Oh and also, Doyle “Dolly” Brunson is another favorite. He is a sweetheart. A true southern gentleman and so fun to watch play. It’s as if he can read minds.

Q: Any other interests and passions?

I’m an avid comic book collector/fan. And not just now because Marvel has usurped the world of film, but I’ve been a fan since I was a kid, back in the day when they made fun of you for reading comics. I’m also a HUGE baseball fan. Which is why Peelers has a prevalent baseball theme throughout. I loved interweaving the baseball element throughout the film. The same reason I love 7-card stud poker applies to why baseball is my favorite sport. It’s a thinking sport; replete with drama, poetry, tension, failure, joy, accomplishment, retribution. All the elements that make a great story. It is definitely the writer’s sport. As the saying goes: “Baseball is only boring to boring minds.”  I totally agree.

Q: Any final thoughts for the screenwriters of SimplyScripts?

Write on. And never. Ever. Give. Up.

Thanks again Lisa.


Check out Peelers Official Website and IMDB
Stream it on Amazon Prime or iTunes or get the Blu-ray

About the reviewer: Anthony Cawood is an award winning screenwriter from the UK with 4 short films produced and another 10 or so scripts optioned and/or purchased. Links to his films and details of his scripts can be found at www.anthonycawood.co.uk.

Search with Google

    Custom Search SimplyScripts

Featured SimplyScripts Blogs

Award Season Screenplays - New!

Advertisement

Subscribe to the SimplyScripts mailing list

    Email Address

ScriptSearch

Advertisement

More Navigation

Latest Entries

Categories

Script of the Day
June 19, 2019

    Katie Cartwright Wasn't Naughty This Year by Ron Houghton

    It's Christmas Eve, and Cole, the newly appointed elf, in charge of list examination has made a serious error. Without a moment to spare, can Cole fulfill the holiday wishes of a particular child. 12 pages
    Discuss it on the Forum

    *Randomizer code provided by Cornetto.

Donate


Advertisement



Writers I dig

Search Amazon

Search Sheet Music




SimplyScripts Logo
Comodo SSL