Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter Denise Meyer

An interview with screenwriter Denise Meyer regarding the One in Ten Writing Competition.

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

A: The script's title is HEIR APPARENT, and it's about an early 16th-century king who will stop at nothing to prevent a rival family from taking his throne. But underneath the politics and intrigue, it's a story about a teenager who makes unimaginable sacrifices to win the approval and affection of a father who refuses to see anything but his flaws.

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

A: The One in Ten contest is looking for scripts that have at least one gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered/questioning character who is portrayed in a positive light. My script has several characters who fit this description, so I thought it had an excellent chance to do well. I was thrilled when it won, primarily because the script's characters are very near and dear to me, and it was incredibly rewarding to have the script acknowledged for its characters.

The script has done quite well in other contests. The only contest I entered but didn't place in was Austin. It was a Chesterfield quarterfinalist, a Disney finalist and a Nicholl finalist. The One in Ten was the first contest I've entered since the Nicholl.

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: I was very satisfied by the way the contest was run. Mike Dean, who coordinates the contest, has been great about responding to e-mails. I was told that I had made the finals a week or two before they were scheduled to announce the winner, and I was notified that I had won a day or two before their November 15 announcement deadline.

It took several weeks to receive the award package, but, yes, I have received everything they have promised, and I could not be more pleased.

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

A: Coverage was included with the awards package. The coverage was extremely positive, so I certainly have no complaints about it at all!

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

A: So far, I haven't been contacted specifically because of this contest, but the winners were announced at the beginning of the holiday season, and people are just revving up for 2007, so I'm not surprised things have been quiet. The next few weeks will be the real test.

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

A: My background is in academia. I was pursuing a Ph.D. in historical linguistics at Cornell University in the mid '90s when a friend jokingly dared me to write a screenplay. I spent the summer of 1996 writing HEIR APPARENT instead of working on my dissertation, and I enjoyed the process so much that I dropped out of grad school and moved to Los Angeles the following year. I spent a few years working a day job until things started to happen with HEIR in 1999, when the script made the Nicholl finals.

My Nicholl placement helped me land a great agent, whom I've been with for more than seven years. I got my first paying gig in 2000, writing an original historical epic for Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick. Unfortunately, nothing much seems to have happened with that project, but it was a great experience and certainly an amazing first writing job.

Since then, I have written a script for producer/director Jean-Jacques Annaud about Mary Read, an early 18th-century pirate, and I have adapted the novel THE THIRD WITCH for New Line Cinema. Chris Noonan is attached to direct THE THIRD WITCH, so that might be going in front of the cameras very soon.

I have also written another spec, a big historical epic set in 12th-century England. As you can see, I write a lot of period scripts.

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

A: Yes, I have lived in Los Angeles for almost a decade. I'm actually pretty happy here, too, which is good given my career choice!

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

A: I'm working on several things. I'm writing a contemporary thriller spec and developing a few projects with producers. I'm also working on a TV pilot based on some characters I've been thinking about for a while. TV's a very different animal, so I really don't know where that might go—but it's fun!

Posted Saturday, January 20, 2007