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Notification: August 15, 2014
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Scriptapalooza interviews writer Chris Pentzell, whose script Can't Live With 'Em was the $10,000 first place winner in the 2006 Scriptapalooza competition.
Scriptapalooza: How did you come up with your story idea?
My original idea for "Can't Live With 'Em" was a guy who gets so frustrated with all of the time he spends trying to meet women that he swears off of them and finds himself going through an unexpected detox process. This, no surprise, came from my own life at the time. I wondered how much more productive (especially with writing) I could be if I channeled all the trying-to-pick-up-women energy into my work. Then I started wondering if my career goals were based on trying to meet women. This first draft was written way back in 1998.
Scriptapalooza: How long did it take you to write it?
Up to that point I had written two other spec screenplays -- "Slappy Goes to Hollywood" and "Self-Helpless". "Slappy" got me a a manager who didn't particularly care for my other two screenplays. I put them on the shelf for years until I came up with a more high-concept angle for "Can't" in 2004. I liked the idea that this detox was happening against his will. In 2005 I took a course from Writers Boot Camp and did another rewrite based on the tools they gave me.
Scriptapalooza: Is this your first script that you have written?
As far as other scripts, I came back to rewrite "Slappy" in 2003 and entered it into the Scriptapalooza competition and placed as a Runner-Up. It remains unproduced.
Scriptapalooza: Have you entered other screenwriting competitions?
The only other screenwriting competition I have entered is Expo Screenwriting competition for both "Slappy" and "Can't". "Slappy" did not do well and I don't yet know about "Can't".
Scriptapalooza: Have you been successful?
I wrote "The Wedding Video" which was optioned by Runaway Productions in 2005 and just finished filming in June. It is currently being edited in preparation for festival season. I also co-produce and have a role as Kevin, the Best Man. Linda Palmer of Runaway Productions is interested in a sequel starring my character.
I was hired by Prometheus Entertainment to do a rewrite on an action-adventure called "Warrior's Quest" (never produced).
I was also hired by producers Joseph Levy and Senta Moses to do a page one rewrite on the dark comedy "Crazy Bitch". They are currently pursuing funding.
In addition to screenplays, I worked with partner Susan R. Hill to rewrite an episodic comedy TV pilot called "Andy's Room" which is currently being shopped around.
I also wrote, produced and directed a short version of "The Wedding Video" in 2004.
Oh, and I was a stand-up comic in San Diego and Los Angeles from 1993-1996 (before writing).
Scriptapalooza: Why did you enter Scriptapalooza?
I entered Scriptapalooza because it was the most well-known competition by people in the industry I had talked to.
Scriptapalooza: Advice to other screenwriters?
Advice to screenwriters: don't give up! I can't emphasize this enough. There are plenty of talented screenwriters all over so don't expect that talent is enough. Make connections, have people read your scripts. Post your scripts on websites like InkTip.com (which is how I ended up optioning "The Wedding Video"). No one knows exactly what works so do as much as you can. At the same time, make sure you keep writing. Sometimes I get so caught up in self-promotion that I lose touch with my craft. This can lead to depression and even desperation. Write. Regularly. Take a class like Writers Boot Camp. For the tools, sure, but also for the structure of regular writing.
Scriptapalooza: How did you feel when you saw your name as one of the winners?
On Tuesday morning, I woke up knowing that this was the day Scriptapalooza would announce the winners. I checked my email. Nothing. Little did I know I already had a voice mail message. I was just about out the door for work. I absentmindedly checked the website, assuring myself that they just hadn't posted the results yet. My eyes snapped into focus when I saw the sign to CLICK HERE to see the winners. I clicked. My head was swimming when I saw my name. I could barely register what I was reading. I hoped to do well enough to get read, but not actually win. $10,000! Are you $%#$ kidding me? I checked again to make sure I hadn't read it wrong. Nope, same result. I walked into the bedroom and said to my sleeping wife, "I won." She sprinted up out of bed and hugged me. Then I had to go to work. I could barely focus all day.
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