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Austin Film Festival’s 25 Screenwriters to Watch in 2017, Presented by MovieMaker

Austin Film Festival’s 25 Screenwriters to Watch in 2017, Presented by MovieMaker


Clint Bentley and Greg Kwedar

(L-R) Greg Kwedar and Clint Bentley

Who: Writing team behind 2016 border patrol feature Transpecos and 2015 short “Dakota.” Kwedar also produced the award-winning 2012 Rwanda bicycling documentary Rising from Ashes.

What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned?

Greg Kwedar: Stop ‘getting lunch’ to ‘pick people’s brains’ and set a start date to make your movie. Say ‘We’re shooting the first week of June,’ not ‘We’re hoping to shoot sometime in the summer.’ People want to be part of a train that’s leaving the station.

Clint Bentley: To let the story guide you, not to force the story into a conclusion you want it to have. If you do your job right, the characters will start acting of their own volition and you can follow them where they want to go. And to finish the damn draft.  Every screenplay seems impossible to finish at some point and the easiest thing to do is abandon it. Also, a mentor of ours, Larry Andries, once told us to use dialogue only as a last resort. I don’t always do a good job implementing this, but it’s incredible advice.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?

GK: Transpecos. The research and writing alone took four years. It took so long, primarily because Border Patrol is a very closed-off agency, and to access the human stories behind the uniforms we had to venture out into the desert ourselves.  Clint and I would drive out in the middle of nowhere until we found an agent bored on the job, leaning on their truck nursing a gallon jug of water. We’d pretend we were lost Canadian tourists, holding an upside-down map. Then the stories would just start to flow. Agents were desperate to be recognized as more than a government symbol. The relationships grew into having beers with agents in one stoplight towns to sitting around dinner tables with their families. And from there, our script really began to take shape. We found the nuance and depth.

What are some of your favorite movies?

CB: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Children of Men, Casablanca and Breathless.

GK: Y Tu Mamá También, The French Connection, Badlands, No Country for Old Men.


1. Jono Matt and Glen Powell 2. Ryan Piers Williams 3. Etta Devine and Gabriel Diani 4. Lena Khan 5. Trey Selman 6. Tracy Oliver 7. Justin Lader and Charlie McDowell 8. Clint Bentley and Greg Kwedar 9. Damir Konjicija and Dario Konjicija 10. Juanjo Moscardó Rius 11. Ben Snyder and Ari Issler 12. Kyle Bugg 13. Jimmy Mosqueda 14. Michael Noonan 15. Geeta Malik 16. Josh Barkey 17. Nicholas Verso 18. Minhal Baig 19. Henry Jones 20. Kevin Arbouet 21. Megan Park 22. Wes Brown 23. Louisiana Kreutz 24. Kate Nowlin 25. Elizabeth Guest

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  1. Conspicuous by their absence are such stellar screenplay writers as Buck Henry (“The Graduate”), Robert Downey, Sr. (“Putney Swope”), Penny Lane (Nuts”)and Ben and Dan Barnz.

  2. Congratulations to all these writers! Knowing Ben Synder, who has worked with me on a scripts, I want to particularly congratulate him and Ari Lssler for achieving this endeavor in the ‘Storyworld’ of Cinema!

    Spiderwood Productions / Tommy G Warren, Writer, Producer.

  3. James Mayfield says:

    Very inspiring stuff. Loved to learn how these guys and gals got their big breaks, especially those who had little to no contact in LA. Sort of inspiring, and it kind of makes you forget, if only for a moment, that many screenwriters work less than minimum wage. There’s hope!

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