Who: Writer of 2012 Black-Listed and AFF-winning comedy feature Goodbye, Felix Chester, currently in production
How did you break in or get your start in screenwriting?
I studied screenwriting at USC in their film school as an undergrad. I wrote a ton of awful stuff until I figured out a way to put my voice on the page. And then I wrote a few more terrible scripts that at least sounded like me. And then I wrote Goodbye, Felix Chester.
I submitted it to several competitions (including the Austin Film Festival). In one of those competitions, I didn’t even get past the first round, but one of the judges loved the script so much that she contacted me and helped set me up with my first manager. So that got the ball rolling.
What’s the hardest scene or project you’ve ever had to write?
I’m yet to have a project without a scene, sequence or an entire act that caused me to lose sleep. It’s inevitable. It’s part of the process. I take a really long shower.
What was a major turning point in your career?
Goodbye, Felix Chester getting on the Black List in 2012. Every positive thing written about the Franklin Leonard and the Black List and what it does for writers is absolutely true.
Do you have a favorite or memorable experience at Austin Film Festival?
Apparently, when you win an award at the Austin Film Festival, you have to give an acceptance speech. Which I did not know. So when I won and had to approach the podium, and there was John Lasseter sitting at a table in the front, and there was Caroline Thompson, who wrote Edward Scissorhands, and Johnny Depp was somewhere in the room… I was freaking out.
I remember thanking my parents, who weren’t there, obviously, but I felt like it had to be said anyway. I phrased it as “my parents, who aren’t with us,” as in “dead,” and the room audibly hushed. I heard an “aww” from someone.
When I realized what they were reacting to, I had to awkwardly clarify that I meant they were in California, very much alive, just not… there.
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