An interview with screenwriter Mike Walsh regarding the Dream Quest Writing Competition.Q: What's the title of the script you entered in this contest, and what's it about?
A: BAND GEEK, a coming-of-age Dramedy, set in 1968, is really about deeply buried issues, and how they play out later if not resolved.Q: What made you enter this particular contest? Have you entered any other contests with this script? If so, how did you do?
A: BAND GEEK has not been entered into any other contest, as I wasn't certain it was even ready. (I'm never certain anything I've written is ready.)
Why Dream Quest? Instinct, I suppose; like so many other choices I make in life.
A: Here is an example of how very accomodating the folks at Dream Quest are:
I had entered a different screenplay, jointly written with a friend, who had asked (for reasons I won't bore the reader with) that we pull the script.
I contacted those at Dream Quest who oversee the contest and explained the situation. They assured me, politely and professionally, that the script would be taken out of the running. At this point, they could have simply "taken the money and run." Instead, they suggested that I substitute with another screenplay. Obviously I did, and the rest is a very pleasant story.
A: I started an outline, circa '01. Within a couple of years, I'd had a first draft.
As I tend to do, I tweaked and poked and prodded (ad nauseam!), then did the proverbial park-it-in-a-drawer-and-let-it-stew thing, while I worked on other projects.
A few years ago, I began to polish it again.
I tend to go over scripts so many times that I'd be hard-pressed to say just how many drafts the script was subjected to. But there were small changes, then the addition of a minor, but important character (who appears - literally, as she is a ghost - at the beginning and at the end), and some further minor polising.
My buddy accuses me of "picking fly poop out of the pepper." He's right. I agonize over a line of dialogue, such as, "And he suddenly left." Then I look at the line and think, 'Or should it be, "BUT he suddenly left." ?' It even drives me crazy. But being an actor, I pick the line apart and wonder if it would sound right when delivered aloud. So, suffice to say, it's hard to tell how many times I revise.
A: Final Draft .5. Still do use it. My earlier stuff was written on Hollywood Screenwriter.Q: Do you write every day? How many hours per day?
A: I have no set pattern. But I do have a tendency to write between 3 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. "How disciplined", you might think. Nope, it's just insomnia! But it really is the only time I do have to write. I make a living as a Licensed Massage Thereapist, as well as a SAG actor, plus I have a home to maintain, and a five year old. So there's not a lot of choice. So I write for about two to four hours...in the wee hours.Q: Do you ever get writer's block? If so, how do you deal with that?
A: I don't get blocks, as I have more ideas than I have time. But I do get stuck quite a bit: 'How am I going to get him/her out of this?'
Something usually comes to me...whether it's plausible or not is yet another question. If it's a real stretch-er-oo (as determined by other readers) then it's back to the ol' drawing board.
A: My background is a varied as you can imagine, including a stint in the U.S. Army.
But in terms of writing, it all began with a short story in high school about John Wilkes-Booth, cozying up to an off-duty sentry in a bar. And how Wilkes-Booth cased the theatre, off-handedly, by plying the soldier with whiskey and garnering info from him, enabling the assassin to get into the theatre and gain access to Lincoln's personal box.
In college I'd written for a childrens' theatre troop. Later I created ad copy for a radio station. My copy gave a local large ad agency a run for its money in an advertising contest, yielding -- over two years -- six awards for various spots I'd written. So all this provided early experience, as well as encouragement.
My first screenplay, cheerily entitled, THE DAY THAT I DIE (from Buddy Holly's lyrics, 'That'll be the day/ when I die') placed as a Quarter-Finalist in Francis Ford Copolla's Zoetrope Contest...More encouragment.
A: I'm on the other coast. Not planning to move there/not planning against it.Q: What's next? Are you working on a new script?
A: I'm slaving away on my fourth script, ROCK & ROLL HEAVEN.