Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter Stephen Settle

An interview with screenwriter Stephen Settle regarding the Wisc. Screenwriters Writing Competition.

Q: What's the title of the script you entered in this contest, and what's it about?

A: I entitled it "Eke'Bolos," Homeric Greek for "straight shooter" and a pseudonym for the god Apollo. Set in Greece in 1974, its protagonist is an Irish-born soldier of fortune turned classics professor (SULLIVAN O'SHEA) who conspires to resurrect the Spartan empire by inciting a final war between East and West. O'Shea is both allied and at desperate odds with the military junta that has ruled Greece for years and now faces its final days. A student archaeological trip provides cover for his activities. O'Shea is all things Dionysian: a lover of wine, women, and war.

His antagonist (the Apollonian good guy, JIM PATCHER) is a decorated Vietnam veteran suffering post-traumatic stress and trying to find his niche in life as a classics teacher, having earlier burned out on law, medicine, and theology. O'Shea admires Patcher's war record and hires him as a graduate assistant. But in Greece the two become adversaries as Patcher grows aware of O'Shea's real mission and the danger it poses to the students and to the world.

There's history, intrigue, great beaches, a love interest, a pure sex interest, a redneck gun runner, and some things get blown up. Not an incredibly low budget script, but I hope not too expensive either.

Q: What made you enter this particular contest? Have you entered any other contests with this script? If so, how did you do?

A: I'm a native North Carolinian, though I've lived in Wisconsin for the past several decades. I learned of this contest through Moviebytes and have been very favorably inpressed with the organization sponsoring it, the Wisconsin Screenwriters Forum. It's a very professional group with members not only here in Wisconsin, but throughout the country.

I've done OK in a number of other competitions: honorable mention in Screenplay Festival, "Best New Writer" runner-up in Action On Film, finalist in both Hollywood Nexus and IndieFest, quarter-finalist in Scriptapalooza (an earlier draft), and in the top ten percent of the Nicholl. I've kept rewriting this thing, and I reckon I'm pretty happy with it now -- that is, until it gets optioned and the powers-that-be tell me to take another stab at it. I'd be delighted to comply.

Q: Were you satisfied with the adminstration of the contest? Did they meet their deadlines? Did you receive all the awards that were promised?

A: Very satisfied. I wish in a way I'd held off until this year, since the prize for the 2006-07 contest is an expenses-paid trip to Screenwriting Expo. But I'm very honored by the recognition and eager to get the script placed on InkTip. I'm hoping to acquire some management or representation as a result.

Q: Were you given any feedback on your script? If so, did you find the feedback helpful?

A: I received feedback in three stages: the first 20 pages, when I made the semi-finals, and again at the finals. I found it quite helpful. Everyone loved O'Shea, but several readers felt Patcher's character needed further development. It was constructive criticism, and I took heed of it.

Q: Has your success in this contest helped you market your script? Were you contacted by any agents, managers or producers?

A: It's been but a few weeks since I was notified, so I haven't received any contact yet. Still, I definitely intend to refer to this win and to start marketing the script more aggressively as a result of it.

Q: What's your background? Have you written any other screenplays or television scripts?

A: I worked as a screenwriter 25 years ago. I earned a bit (less than $5,000 per project) and had an agent in Hollywood who was raided by the IRS for back taxes. They grabbed four grand of mine along with everything else in his account, which is how I learned the meaning of"eminent domain." "Fed up" from the experience, I sequed into direct mail fundraising, features writing, and commentary, and would've kept putzin' right along, except that my wife "encouraged" me to return to screenwriting. A couple of years ago I gave in, and I'm glad I did, though I still need my day job.

Q: Do you live in Los Angeles? If not, do you have any plans to move there?

A: I live in a town of 3200 in what's known as dairy country. This'll sound wacky, but I actually enjoy driving in LA. That plus the fact that our youngest daughter is wild about baseball in general and the Dodgers in particular, even had her photo taken with Tommy Lasorda when she was six. I love LA, and yet don't live there. Great jazz spots. I'd be more than open to spending as much time there as I'd need to.

Q: What's next? Are you working on a new script?

A: Yes. It involves bossa nova. That's really all I can say about it.

Posted Tuesday, September 5, 2006