Who: Dropped out of USC’s Screenwriting MFA program to write for ABC Family’s Chasing Life; wrote 2014 AFF-winning screenplay Three Months which made the 2015 Black List; writing for MTV’s upcoming Little Darlings.
How did you break in or get your start in screenwriting?
Since law school sounded like waterboarding and most fiction writers live 20,000 leagues under the poverty line, I applied to USC’s screenwriting MFA (where I could hopefully tell stories and afford food). The application required a dramatic sample and, dissatisfied with my material up to that point, I free-wrote the first 10 pages of a piece that would later become Three Months: a story that changed everything for me.
What would be your advice to aspiring screenwriters?
1) Write shit you care about. 2) Figure out your brand and fucking run with it. 3) Cursing is fine.
What was the hardest scene or project you’ve ever had to write?
The hardest project I’ve ever had to write was one that, like a lackluster OKCupid date at the 7/11, I didn’t really care about. And the best way to navigate those types of challenges is to figure out how to slip in themes, characters, or conflicts that get your rocks off. Spike your Big Gulp and go with it.
What was a major turning point in your career?
As someone who didn’t really know people in L.A., my way into entertainment was via the competition track. I’d have to say winning my first contest, Outfest’s Screenwriting Lab, was a significant turning point. That being said, Three Months‘ Austin win was pretty insane and directly led to writing opportunities. So it’s a toss-up between the gays and Texas.
What is your favorite film or television show?
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind nails the human condition more acutely than any other film I’ve seen. (And it constantly inspires me to dye my hair.)
1. Annie Silverstein 2. Jared Frieder 3. Mike Covino and Sam Kretchmar 4.Troy Anthony Miller 5. Kieran Fitzgerald 6. Ya’ke Smith 7. Brian Klugman 8. Nina Ljeti 9. Kevin Hamedani 10. Eric Haywood 11. Andrew Lanham 12. Julie Howe 13. Tess Morris 14. Matt Cook 15. Monica Zanetti 16. VJ Boyd 17. Edward Ricourt 18. David Broyles 19. Sasha Gordon 20. Eric Hueber 21. Faraday Okoro 22. Arturo Ruiz Serrano 23. Maya Perez 24. Max Taxe 25. Negin Farsad