Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriters Scott & Paula Merrow

An interview with screenwriters Scott & Paula Merrow regarding the New Mexico Writing Competition.

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

A: The title is "A Piece of Pie". It's a comedy about an "average Joe" who has a flat tire out in the middle of nowhere and discovers he doesn't have a spare. He hitches a ride to the nearest town, which turns out to be Pie Town, New Mexico (which is a real town). While he's waiting for his flat to be fixed, he goes to a cafe for pie and coffee. The problem is, the piece of pie he wants is already spoken for -- by a big guy named Lester. The remainder of the film is a battle of wits to see who gets the pie. It has some nice twists and surprises.

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

A: We were taking a writing class when we learned about this contest. We were interested in writing a screenplay with a New Mexico flavor, so this was a great opportunity. We had visited Pie Town a few times and made some friends there, and it seemed like a really unique little bit of "New Mexicana", so we decided to set our story there. It also seemed like a perfect fit for the contest. We haven't entered the screenplay in any other contests.

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: The contest was administered by the New Mexico Film Office, and they did an outstanding job. They met all the deadlines. The main prize was $5000 to produce the film, as well as equipment and crew from New Mexico's Film Technicians Training Program. The people from the NM Film Office bent over backwards to make sure we had everything we needed to make the film (including an experienced director, Janet Davidson). The film premiered at the Santa Fe Film Festival on December 8.

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

A: Yes. Another of the prizes was a chance to attend the Screenwriters Conference at Santa Fe -- for free! It was a great experience. We received a lot of valuable feedback at the conference. Plus, the Executive Director of the conference, Larry Stouffer, was kind enough to spend more than an hour with us, giving us a detailed critique of the screenplay. Very helpful and encouraging.

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

A: We haven't really tried to market the script, since the film was produced almost immediately after the contest. The film has been submitted to several film festivals (and selected for screening by at least one of them, so far), so we're hoping the exposure we get from "A Piece of Pie" will create some opportunities for other projects.

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

A: We both recently retired from other careers. "A Piece of Pie" was our first screenplay. We've written several other short screenplays since then. Our second screenplay, "Ooh La La", was first runner up in the 2006 Duke City Shootout. "Ooh La La" also received an honorable mention in the Hollywood Creative Connection Short Comedy Script Competition. We wrote a supernatural drama entitled, "Playa Fantasma", which was first runner up in the Caribbean Shorts screenplay competition. And a family comedy called "The Spider Experiment" is currently a finalist in the International Family Film Festival's screenplay competition. We'll find out how it does in February.

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

A: We don't live in LA and have no plans to move there. We live in Albuquerque, and we both love it here. New Mexico has a burgeoning film industry, and we're hoping to take advantage of that as screenwriters. (And, of course, we're only a couple hours from LA by air, should an opportunity present itself!)

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

A: We're constantly working on new scripts. We're currently working on our first two feature-length screenplays. One is a supernatural thriller called, "The Third Spell". The other is a coming-of-age story about a young Hispanic girl in New Mexico. It's tentatively titled, "A Mustang for Blanca."

Posted Friday, December 29, 2006