Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter Dennis Grace

An interview with screenwriter Dennis Grace regarding the ScriptVamp/Attention Grabber Writing Competition.

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

A: The screenplay is a comedy called "Which One Do I Whack?", and it's about the roller-coaster two days that follow a newbie mobster when he's forced to kill a potential female witness at a certain address and finds three doorbells leading to three vastly different and crazy women.

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've advanced and won a few other contests, but I'm nearly finished revising "Which One Do I Whack?" and saw this as the perfect challenge to see if it's opening would captivate a reader and have them craving more.

Q: Were you satisfied with the administration of the contest? Did they meet their deadlines? Did you receive all the awards that were promised?

A: Absolutely satisfied. ScriptVamp actually notified me earlier than they promised on their website, and the in-depth feedback notes were exactly what I discovered in my own critique of my submission.

Q: How long did it take you to write the script? Did you write an outline beforehand? How many drafts did you write?

A: This first draft took about a week to do, and it was spawned from a turn of my head at the right time and place. I don't outline as much as I used to in the past. I like to get it all out as fast and as far as the momentum and characters take me, then go back and use an outline board to add set pieces and conflicts that I've thought of afterwards. I used to go through about seven or eight drafts before I was "okay" (no writer is completely satisfied with anything they've written) with it to put it down, but I've honed my skills to the point that three or four is sufficient, otherwise I could be rewriting until I'm dead.

Q: What kind of software did you use to write the script, if any? What other kinds of writing software do you use?

A: I use Final Draft, and I'm hopeful that by Version 16, they'll invent a headset that will extract the ideas directly from my subconscious, though I have to admit, the thought of what the narrative might look like scares me slightly.

Q: Do you write every day? How many hours per day?

A: I have to write every day, or I go into withdrawal. I usually write anywhere from two hours a day on up, and can remember several occasions where eight hours had passed and I knocked out fifty pages without realizing. After an hour, I get lost in the story and it takes me way down the river. Thank God this river has a bathroom.

Q: Do you ever get writer's block? If so, how do you deal with that?

A: Not usually. The rare times I find myself stuck is when trying to deliver the perfect line of dialogue to wrap up a scene or blend in its consequence in the very next one. After ten minutes, I stick with my gut and move on. By the second draft, the characters usually dictate their own dialogue, and the right words always find their way in.

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

A: I attempted to write a novel years ago, but all the successful ones find a way to take ten pages to describe a table lamp (I'm kidding. Five pages, at most). I loved movies and realized most screenplays were only 110 pages long. "I could do that!" I thought... foolishly. That was five years and a ton of research ago. The first two screenplays I wrote were hideous, and had no structure. It takes time and desire to get any good at it, and, as I said earlier, we're never happy with anything we've finished. In the last few years, I've written several quality scripts that have earned even better recognition, and feel I'm on the precipice of that one great opportunity.

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

A: I don't. I grew up in Jersey, but in the last few years, I've imagined myself on the left coast, whether it be for a movie shoot or permanently. I'm hoping that by the time I get there, they realize you can actually have highways, as in plural, that connect to Los Angeles.

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

A: I finished a Christmas screenplay last month, and "Which One Do I Whack?" recently. I have two more comedies in mind, and they should be done by April. Then I plan to rewrite a comedy-drama that won a contest three years ago because the story was so different and well-received by so many.

Posted Tuesday, February 12, 2013