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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 Maria Hammarblad

An interview with screenwriter Maria Hammarblad regarding the Wildsound Writing Competition.

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

A: My screenplay is called Undercover, and it is about Alexei Roshenko, a Russian agent wanting to free himself from his sordid past to live a normal life with the love of his life: all-American girl Jenny Moore. That's easier said than done, and they are soon on the run from intelligence agencies on both sides.

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

A: A friend on LinkedIn told me about the contest, and when I researched it the prizes sounded so much fun that I wanted to enter. You can't pass up a chance to get professional feedback on anything you do, and getting a script read by actors is a phenomenal prize.

I haven't entered any other contests with Undercover. I've thought about it, but not gotten around to it.

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: Oh yes, they are fantastic. Above and beyond what I expected. There are so many contests where you submit something, pay the fee, and never hear from them again. Wildsound aren't like that. I've submitted a screenplay before that didn't quite make it, and I got feedback with ideas for improvement much sooner than I expected. When it comes to Undercover they're still keeping in touch.

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

A: Undercover the screenplay is loosely based on my novel Undercover, so I had the general storyline clear before I started. There's a lot of tweaking to be done of course, to fit the pace of a movie. The first draft came together quickly, but I've gone through and edited it several times.

When writing screenplays I start with making notecards with important events. It's easy to rearrange them and check that the timing seems right. I keep an eye on them as a write, and they help me keep the rhythm. Without them I'd probably end up with a 90 minute Act I and a three minute Act III...

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've always used Celtx Script, but the new version for Mac doesn't agree with me, so for Undercover I used Adobe story.

Other kinds of writing software? I'm a compulsive writer so I write on everything. I write on tiny pieces of paper, my phone, computers, napkins, whatever's within reach.

For screenwriting specifically, I only use Celtx and Adobe Story.

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

A: Yes, I write every day, but not all of it is fiction. I run a writing business, so I normally type away from early morning until late night, writing copy for all sorts of clients.

It's tricky to balance writing for a living with writing for pleasure, but I strive to set aside a few hours for novels and screenplays. I'm seasonal when it comes to writing fiction; I work very hard during fall, winter, and spring, and accomplish near to nothing during summers.

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

A: Sometimes the imaginary people in my head stop talking to me. They usually get going again if I change environment. Going for a walk works great. Sometimes I just need to go to another room, or grab my laptop and go outside. I wrote a lot of Undercover the novel sitting in my car watching the ocean.

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

A: I have written a few other screenplays and a couple of minibibles for children's shows, but nothing in the same genre as Undercover. I have a science fiction script on the shelf called Kidnapped that won a couple of awards in 2012, and I want to tweak it and send it to Wildsound. Time permitting...

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

A: No... I'm Swedish originally and live in Florida right now. I don't think I'd be happy in a really big city like Los Angeles. I know I'm supposed to live there to have a screenwriting career, but I don't see it happening.

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

A: I'm about half way through a script about an alien invasion of Earth. Right now it's summer, not my best time for writing, but I will probably have it ready to present before the end of the year. The beginning is too long. It needs some ferocious use of the delete key. :-)

Posted Friday, August 8, 2014

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