Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter Nathan Ludwig

An interview with screenwriter Nathan Ludwig regarding the Nashville Fest Writing Competition.

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

A: My script is called "Behind You" and it's about a retired widower who suffers from a recurring nightmare about his daughter's death. Things start to get truly sinister when she disappears for real and he begins a chilling search for her. He soon realizes that something or someone is following his every move, right behind him and just out of sight.

I wanted to really focus on atmosphere and mood and how it relates to the characters. A palpable sense of dread and realistic, adult characters are important to me and I feel they're ignored most of the time for cheap jump scares and nonsensical plot twists.

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 heard about it via various online screenwriting resources. Since it was the first year the Nashville Film Festival was actually doing a screenwriting competition, I felt compelled to enter.

This is my first entry into a competition for any screenplay and I was one of three finalists in the short horror/thriller category and ultimately ended up third place overall.

I'm planning on submitting "Behind You" to more competitions this summer. It will be exciting to see where it ends up after all is said and done.

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: This was a very professional contest. The competition coordinator was always available via email and was extremely knowledgeable and helpful. They contacted me in the same time frame they advertised for notification.

They really took care of all finalists and the VIP area was the best I've experienced so far (I've been to a few others for co-directing short films). The perks were great and the finalist badges got you into pretty much everything. Seeing a great variety of independent and foreign films was nice.

Overall, a very worthwhile experience.

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

A: It only took me a few months to finish it from rough draft to final draft. I had been thinking about it in my head for the better part of a year so when it finally came time, it went rather smoothly.

I don't do outlines at all on short scripts. To me, short scripts are open canvases for anything your mind can come up with. As long as you can think up a compelling narrative or a clever hook in short form, writing it down is the easiest part.

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

A: Move Magic Screenwriter. I used to use Final Draft, but either one is just fine with me. It's not the equipment you use, it's the ability to write that matters. I'd rather read a great screenplay scribbled on cocktail napkins than a terrible screenplay perectly formatted in Final Draft

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

A: I'd be lying if I said I wrote every day. I definitely think about writing and what I want to write every single day. Does that count? I'd say I write on average every other day for about 3-4 hours at a time. Sometimes I'll just scribble down a line or two here and there and I'm satisfied. If my day job were a professional screenwriter, I'd write every day for sure.

If I'm not writing, I'm formulating and brainstorming something to write about. Always.

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

A: No. Writer's block is just that subconscious low self-esteem writers get. It can easily be cured by writing. Even if it sucks, you're writing. Sometimes you have to write pages of crap to get to the good stuff. It's all for a reason when you're a writer, even if you hate yourself for trying. Sometimes I'll just write a logline for a different idea or write a conversation featuring all my characters in a script all hanging out in an empty room. Why are they all there together? Who cares. Just write and you'll come up with some great stuff.

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

A: I went to film school and found that to be utterly useless. Immediately after, I tried to make a feature film with a handful of fellow film school graduates and it was a disaster. It was never finished, but we learned a lot more than in film school. I went back to the drawing board and co-wrote and directed a short film called "Late Submission" which is currently in film festivals. We've been accepted by four festivals so far and the response has been very positive.

As far as strictly screenplays go, I'm currently working on a feature script which I just submitted to the Nicholl Fellowship.

Also, I'm editing two short films and working on co-writing two more short films at the moment. It helps to stay busy and I'd recommend other writers learn how to direct and/or edit if they want to increase their chances of success.

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

A: No, I live in Richmond, VA. If something were to develop out of one of my screenplays I would definitely be open to moving. Home is where I am, wherever that may be.

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

A: I'm close to starting both a new feature screenplay and another short. I'm excited about both ideas and I can't wait for others to read them!

Posted Friday, May 2, 2014