Interview with Screenwriters Carlo and Erin Carere
Carlo and Erin Carere are partners in life and in writing. Carlo was born in Naples, and published several novels in Italy before turning his attention to screenwriting. Minneapolis native Erin, meanwhile, was a playwright and singer-songwriter. The couple have been writing together since 2014, and their sci-fi TV pilot Dark Horizons has scored more than a dozen contest placements from some of the best-rated contests on MovieBytes.
Moviebytes: Tell us about about your dark sci-fi TV pilotm Dark Horizons. Where did you get the idea?
Carlo: I woke up in the middle of the night with the idea. Like I often do!
Erin: And then he woke me up. Haha! And then he told me the idea and I thought to myself, Oh, yeah! This is a great idea!
Carlo: We started doing research the very next day. We really love this story, it gives a unique spin to a post-apocalyptic scenario, which is terrifying. So far, we have director/producer Mike LeHan attached to direct the pilot. He's actively pitching the show.
Moviebytes: Are you genre fans? Have you written other sci/fi horror scripts?
Erin: I think we're pretty equal opportunity as fans, but I will say, I have long loved dystopian future scifi.
Carlo: I love writers and directors like Philip K. Dick and Christopher Nolan, James Cameron. So, yes!
Erin: One of Carlo:'s hobbies is learning about astrophysics.
Carlo: And we've written a few other projects with supernatural, horror or scifi elements, although generally we like to mix genres.
Moviebytes: Tell us about your writing process. Do you work together in the same room, or do you write separately and swap pages?
Carlo: Usually, one of us has an idea... we both get lots of ideas... and we might develop a logline and then go to another project, or develop a treatment or outline, but then move to a different project and come back to it later. Anyway, the process is usually something like: idea, logline, research, character development, plot development, outline or treatment. We develop all of that by talking back and forth, acting things out, posing questions.
Erin: Of course we live together, so it's sort of 24/7 at our house. Usually the main first draft writer of the script itself is the person who originally had the idea, although we will sit and write together as well. Then we go back and forth, asking questions, brainstorming other options, etc., for, oh, say, a hundred passes. Not really kidding.
Carlo: For disagreements, we always try to ask what's best for the script. And I have to say, we have had very few so far. We both seem to have an identical sense of what is best for our stories. That makes our partnership kinda special.
Erin: Carlo: loves to solve problems. He is always thinking about potential problems and approaches a rewrite like an engineer or a detective. Me, I'm more visceral, guttural, so I look for where my little truth ticker lives within. If one of us doesn't feel a YESSSSSSSS on a given story/character point, then he/she has veto power and we keep looking until we find something we both love. Which always ends up being better than what we had originally thought.
Moviebytes: You've entered a lot of contests, and have had a lot of success. How do you decide which contests to enter, and which contests to skip?
Erin: Our policy is to always look for the most promising contests. So, we enter based on lists that say, "Best Script Contests." Your website, Moviebytes, has been a great asset in this regard. And we have used your discounts several times. Thank you! Also, sometimes we enter contests not included in the "Top Contests" lists if we are intrigued by the contest's judges, offering, perks, etc. There were a few contests we entered that totally surprised us. Film Festivals, for example, that we entered because, well, why not? But then we would place or win and go to the festival and have an incredible time.
Moviebytes: Have any of the contests you've entered been particularly helpful in terms of marketing your screenplay?
Carlo: We are especially grateful to Screencraft, who have always been excellent about pitching writers to management and producers. We also have had a number of great experiences with contests that connected to festivals, either as partners or because they are an actual segment/ category of the festival. One of them was the Sun Valley Film Festival which allowed us to meet some very important people for our career.
Erin: Also, social media has been helpful. We posted a lot of our wins and drew quite some attention that way.
Moviebytes: Beyond contests, what other steps have you taken to market your script(s)? Do you have an agent or manager? If so, how did you find each other? Describe your working relationship.
Erin: Well, social media was helpful, like I mentioned. For example, when we hit #1 on MovieBytes and The Red List, we posted on Social Media and we were approached by a few producers after that. We also email our existing contacts, friends and acquaintances with updates when it feels really exciting and appropriate to do so.
Carlo: As a result of this, we met producer James Vallo who started working with us, pitching several of our scripts. He also introduced us to Kathy Muriavov, who loved Dark Horizons and has been our rep ever since. Kat is fabulous. We love working with her. She has so many great insights into the market and has been really helpful in navigating everything from pitches to contracts to... sales! As we speak, she's negotiating a sale for our script Time Zero with producers who are really passionate about it. Good luck to us.
Moviebytes: Dark Horizons and Time Zero both have what sounds like a pretty commercial premises. Are marketing factors a consideration when you sit down to write?
Carlo: In a way, in that we always try to write shows we would absolutely love to watch.
Erin: It seems important to consider the general audience of a show you're writing, in terms of understanding the sophistication of the average modern viewer. Have you ever gone back and watched shows from twenty, thirty years ago? A lot of them are great, but also, maybe audiences today have evolved alongside writers and production, and so people will want shows that reflect that complexity. I think of screenwriting kind of like songwriting. You have to consider the form. If you're really good, you can break form, but if you break form just for the sake of breaking it, the song (or script) will end up being an idea in your head that never quite makes it. It's hollow. But if you consider what you can play with inside the form, that's where you can have all kinds of breakthroughs that are both artistic AND commercial. But of course, that's us.
Moviebytes: How has the pandemic affected your writing process?
Carlo: We hunkered down and wrote during the pandemic. In fact, we looked at all the loglines and ideas we've created and thought of over the last few years and chose the project that would be most likely to be filmed just after a shut-down.
Moviebytes: What's next? Are you working on a new project?
Erin and Carlo: Well, we just finished rewriting Time Zero and we can't say anything more about the aforementioned negotiations, but we’re excited about that. Meanwhile, we have already hatched out the premise and concept for another sci-fi/horror film (or TV miniseries - we haven't made up our mind on this just yet) we feel very excited about. We already have the title: SHUT EYE.