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Screenwriter Interviews

Writers: If you've finished first, second, or third in any screenwriting competition listed on MovieBytes, we'd like to interview you! First, make sure the contest results for the year you won are posted on MovieBytes, including your name, so we can verify your submission. Then submit our online interview form for that contest. We'll notify you via email when your interview has been posted.

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter MIKE DONALD

An interview with screenwriter MIKE DONALD regarding the EXPOSURAMA Writing Competition.

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

A: My script was called SHADOW TRADE. [Horror/Thriller finalists.] I was fascinated by the incredible amount of corruption and duplicity within not only the world financial system but also the military black budgets and the rebuilding of Iraq program. Literally billions of dollars were just being handed over in shrink wrapped piles. I had the basic idea for the plot and began researching for more detail. The more I dug, the less imaginative my script became, I was for the first time in my life finding that the truth was way more corrupt than the fiction I had imagined! In the end I was becoming worried that men with dark glasses and earpieces would be appearing at my door, and when I visited some websites a message would fade up saying do you really want to be here? And then the webpage would just fade away! Finally by the time I had finished I was fictionalizing the truth rather than the other way round! I was very worried in case the script was badly received in the US as it doesn't paint the US in a very good light...however it is fiction at the end of the day...sort of!

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 am constantly looking for ways to break out as a writer. I have four producers working for me and I have done well in competitions with my big budget thriller LOUISIANA BLOOD and Exposurama offered some industry magazine and billboard exposure so I'm hoping to get a manager or US agent out of it. I have entered Shadow Trade into the Movie Script Golden Brad competition and it made quarter finalist and it's in a few more at the moment.

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 administration was okay and they were pretty much on target time wise. I don't know the time frame for the prizes or exposure yet, but I have queried them for information.

I was surprised that there was only one overall winner of the competition and three finalists for each genre, I would have thought that there should have been a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place for each genre, but it was probably made clear in the rules that I skimmed!

I would like to think the billboard that all the winners are on will be sited just below the Hollywood Hills sign rather than between two topless bars, but I guess if that was the case at least the footfall would be high!

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

A: I didn't get any feedback on the script.

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

A: The competition has only just closed so I don't have any news on that yet.

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

A: I started writing comedy shows for the BBC and then progressed into features. I am at present financing DEADEYE a supernatural thriller with Brett Leonard attached to direct and have written about fifteen scripts to date, eleven of which are posted on Moviebytes.

I mainly write spec scripts and have also been commissioned by producers and individuals including Brad Krevoy (Dumb and Dumber) who wanted two scripts to kickstart the Pumpkinhead franchise. He wanted the scripts done in a matter of weeks which I did manage to pull off only to discover he was intending them for the Sci-Fi Channel which he had failed to mention! Needless to say my vision was too expensive and my project never made it off the launchpad. That was a low point and made me realise I should have had an agent check the contracts before getting involved. The writing scene is littered with the scorched corpses of newbie writers and I've learnt since then.

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

A: No, but I feel things would be a whole heap easier if I did. I could just hang out in bars and bump into all the right people who would option my scripts for six figures. (Irony warning!)

In the UK it's fairly common to be offered a pound in good faith for the rights to punt your script around. (For real!)

I have no plans to move to LA, tho' I'm more than happy to fly out and take meetings should the offers pour in. Out of all my writing contacts I only know one who moved to LA and he's doing really well I believe (Kevin Brodbin, The Glimmer Man, Constantine etc) I guess he's doing well because it's actually impossible to reach him now as I can't get past the agency's operator! That's always a good sign in LA.

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

A: I am working on about three others at the moment HIGHLAND FLING a low budget comedy horror set in a Scottish castle, BARD III a fictionalised account of a young William Shakespeare's missing years as a secret agent, and ELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING a comedy Sci-Fi film.

The Elvis project is about an alien sent down to Earth to kidnap Elvis and bring back a sense of emotion to the inhabitants of his planet...sadly due to the distance the intercepted transmission of Elvis's concert has traveled to the planet, Elvis is already dead by the time they receive it! I have a good slugline already. "The only man that can save their planet is already dead!"

I have about thirty or forty original concepts to work into scripts and it really depends on what takes over my brain next. As ever I'm actually trying to earn a living at the same time, the bane of a writers life! I generally write around 3 or 4 scripts a year.

Posted Monday, October 19, 2009

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