2013, 2014, and 2015 screenplay finalist
What is your name, company name, and URL?
What is your specialty: filmmaking or screenwriting? If filmmaking, which aspects?
I am primarily a screenwriter, but I have been moving into producing lately as well.
What are you currently working on?
I just turned a new dramatic thriller feature script, which I will also be producing, and am in pre-production on a short film that I wrote and am producing. I also recently finished the pilot for an adaptation for television of a series of novels by the wonderful writer Kathe Koja. And with all those wrapping up on the writing side, time to start the next script!
Who do you consider your mentor and why?
Well, the gag-inducing answer would be every novel or story or script I’ve read, every movie I’ve watched, is my mentor. As a writer, in addition to the sheer joy of reading, I always have my eyes open to how an author has approached their work – structure, style, storytelling. More specifically: I’m not sure I would call them mentors, but I am constantly grateful for the opportunity to work with colleagues like Kathe Koja – a truly great novelist and stylist – and filmmaker Gabriel Beristain, who brings a brilliant eye as well as a deep, and deeply human, understanding of storytelling on film to his projects. I learn so much from collaborating with them, whether or not they realize it.
Why do you think the horror/sci-fi genres have such a large following?
I think stories that fall into these genres tap into universal emotions in a way that is not culturally specific – the things that scare us (horror), tend to scare us as human beings, not as . The things that give us hope, or a sense of awe, or that look to the future (sf), similarly. They are archetypal, almost primal. Comedy and drama tend to be much more specific, to have a much deeper grounding in cultural specifics and don’t translate as well – across countries, across regions, across class or background, etc.
What do you love most about this business?
Almost everything. I love telling stories, exploring characters, exposing emotions. I love the act of making movies, of being on set – I am never ever bored on set, even if I’m just sitting and watching.
What do you dislike most about this business?
As a writer, I think I’m contractually obligated to say “notes.” But…yeah, notes. Especially when they’re right, dammit.
What career accomplishment are you most proud of?
Whatever my most recent script is. I feel like I continue to improve with each screenplay I write, and that’s the trajectory I want to stay on. Having two short scripts as finalists in Shriekfest 2015 is pretty cool, too!
Any advice you'd like to give to newbies?
Read. Analyze. Screenwriting is about structure structure structure. Read good scripts (and they are readily available these days!), and then read them again. Break them down. Compare them to the finished movie to see how the page translated to the screen. And then write! Even when you don’t feel like it, when the inspiration just isn’t there. Better to get on paper a page of crap then nothing at all, because you’ll learn from it, and you’ll continue to build the discipline of writing. Remember Thomas Edison’s quote: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” (Yeah, Edison was kind of a jerk, but the quote still stands).
Anything else you'd like to say?
Don’t quit. This business is all about perseverance. If you don’t quit, you’ve already beaten 90% of the competition.