Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter Rick Stempson

An interview with screenwriter Rick Stempson regarding the BlueCat Writing Competition.

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

A: The script is called "Gary the Tennis Coach." It is about a former tennis pro, now janitor, that is trying to leave the world of tennis behind him. When an opportunity to coach a high school tennis team arises, he takes it and changes the lives of the boys he's coaching. Maybe for the better, maybe not.

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

A: My writing partner, Andy Stock, and I entered every contest imagineable. We never heard a word from any of them. Our script is a dark comedy and it got to the point that we thought about entering it in the "drama" category of some of these contests. We were excited for BlueCat because we were guaranteed feedback. We thought our script was funny. We wanted to see if someone else thought it was, too. Andy and I both loved "Love Liza." We thought if anyone would "get" our script, it would be Gordy Hoffman.

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: This is, hands down, the best screenplay competition there is. Since Andy and I won, other writers have asked me what they should do with their scripts. I tell each of them to enter BlueCat. The administration at BlueCat tell you exactly what will happen with your script and when. They deliver by every deadline. What other contest can say that? We received our first-place award very quickly.

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

A: I have to admit that when I heard that we had won, I did not think we would have many notes. After all, we won, right? Gordy's notes were so beneficial. He tells you what works and what doesn't work with the script. If you can get over your stubborness as a writer and listen to the criticism, your script is going to get better and better. That is exactly what happened to ours.

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

A: Gordy hand-delivered our script to Peter Morgan, a producer in Los Angeles. He loved the script and helped us further develop it. Within weeks, we had representation from Tracey Jacobs at UTA and a deal in the works.

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

A: Andy and I have always enjoyed writing. As kids, we had always dreamed of writing sketches for Saturday Night Live. This was our first experience with writing a screenplay. I was a tennis coach at the University of Nebraska for ten years. Andy and I are now writing full-time. We are true examples of "anyone can do it."

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

A: I live in Lincoln, Nebraska while Andy lives in Austin, Texas. I am trying to avoid the move as long as possible.

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

A: Andy and I recently finished our second script. It is about to hit the market. With the help of veteran showrunners Steve Levitan and Chris Lloyd, we are also working on a pilot for 20th Century Fox.

Posted Wednesday, February 7, 2007