Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter Russell Meyer

An interview with screenwriter Russell Meyer regarding the Chicago Screenwriters Writing Competition.

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

A: THE TORTOISE AND THE HEIR won the Best Action Script Award - A threadbare private investigator, once San Francisco's best, becomes involved in a case where unknowing heirs who may inherit half of California are murdered one by one.

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

A: The Chicago Screenwriters Network Screenplay Contest offers awards divided into genre. It makes sense to have action competing against action, rather than action up against comedies. I have entered other contests with this script. It recently was a semi-finalist in The Writers On The Storm Contest, along with another of my scripts, QUEST (JENNA'S GONE).

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: For a first year contest, they did extremely well. The awards presentation was emceed by President Sonny Wareham. All of the awards, including cash, were received. Colin Costello helped coordinate the publicity with the participating producers, agents, and managers. The entire board deserves kudos on a job well done.

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

A: No outline. It started with a question. What would be the world's biggest will? After that, it was just a battle to write as fast as the story was coming. I've now done a couple dozen drafts. It's changed my mind on outlining.

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

A: This script was done on Movie Magic Screenwriter 2000. I also use Final Draft, and started writing on Scriptware.

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

A: I write/research nearly every day. As a part-time writer it was about twenty hours a week. I've recently decided to go full-time, which should up the potential considerably.

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

A: It is only writer's block if you let it block you. I shift to working on a different scene or angle, even a different script. If I come back, and still don't have any inspiration, I force the pen to move. What could happen in this scene., Where is it going next?, etc., until the story takes off. Then the pen and I just try to keep pace with the ideas.

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

A: I studied screenwriting with Dan Decker, Durrell Royce Crays, and Steve Larson. I've written ten feature scripts, and several shorts. Six of my scripts were quarter-finalists or better in contests this year.

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

A: Presently I'm attempting to preserve a unique voice, writing in flyover country, occasionally distracted by wild turkeys, deer, and bald eagles outside my office. I've been in L.A. and I'm willing to move for assignments, or rewrites.

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

A: Right now I'm a finalist in the BizOfScreenwriting Rewrite Contest. Working on marketing my feature scripts, and on several ideas for new scripts. Doing a first draft on a comedy feature at the moment.

Posted Monday, December 28, 2009