Screenwriter Andrew Fisk
An interview with screenwriter Andrew Fisk regarding the Wildsound Writing Competition.Q: What's the title of the script you entered in this contest, and what's it about?
A: The script's title is "Shapeshifters."
The main character, Sarah, is a thirty year old doctor. She returns to her home in Seattle to recover from nightmares, depression and nervous breakdowns. She has no idea that she is a Shapeshifter (inherited from her mother's side of the family) about to have her first transformation into her animal side. A group of evil Shapeshifters invades Seattle and uses it as a hunting ground. Sarah is pulled into their world just when she is most vulnerable.
The concept of Shapeshifters, human beings who can turn into animals, exists in every part of the world. It has been around for thousands of years. There is something in our collective unconscious that is fascinated by this mythology of the animal taking control and terrified of it as well. This movie explores the good and evil sides of being a Shapeshifter.
A: The WILDsound Screenplay Festival has an excellent track record of seeings its winners made into real produced films. I've been involved with a number of screenwriting contests and besides an announcement of the winners and finalists there doesn't seem to be any afterlife.
I wrote the first version of "Shapeshifters" several years ago. It was a Finalist in the High Concept Screenplay Competition. The current version has gone through major restructuring/editing and is much better.
A: Yes, I was very satisfied with WILDsound. They met all their deadlines for returning comments about "Shapeshifters" and other scripts I have entered into their compeitions.
Their comments/notes have been excellent. You really need knowledgeable people to review your work and give you feedback. As John Huston said at the Oscars years ago, "Film is a collaborative medium." The feedback from WILDsound really opened up my thinking and help me see things I had not see before.
They also completed the most important prize - a table read by professional actors in Toronto. The table read was videotaped and is available on the Internet at: www.wildsoundfestival.com/shapeshifters.html. They did an excellent job. It is also on YouTube.
A: That's hard to calculate. The first version took a few months, then I let it lay fallow for a while. I went through several iterations based on comments from contest reviewers. I saw many new ways to make it better and focused on it very deeply for three months. The result is the version that won the WILDsound Screenplay Festival.
For me, the screenplay starts when I have an image of a very distinct character in an interesting situation. The image usually flashes in my head when I am not thinking about writing screenplays. Once I have that initial image, I usually know the beginning and ending to my story. It’s all that stuff in the middle that’s tough. That's when I create an outline.
A: I use an antiquated version of Scriptware. It is the first screenwriting software I ever used and I have developed an attachment to it.
I don't use any software that helps you outline or create plot structure. For some jobs the best tool is not a computer, simply a pad of lined paper and some number two pencils. For me, too much technology just gets in the way.
A: Like many people, my writing schedule is kind of irregular. If I can have three or four hours a day it is a luxury. I have to squeeze it in between other free-lance writing assigments and running after a very active six-year old. I like to start early in the morning and get in as much as I can.Q: Do you ever get writer's block? If so, how do you deal with that?
A: I don't really get writer's block to the point where nothing is happening. But some days are more productive than ever. The three-months when I finished the last version of "Shapeshifters" was a period of lockdown laser-like concentration that really surprised me. Where did I get the energy?
At the moment, I am recovering from that effort and feeling a little foggy. Also, family commitments are taking a lot of my time. I look at my notebooks full of story ideas and things I want to rewrite and they are screaming at me to get back to work and turn into a laser beam again.
Just a suggestion about writer's block: do something unrelated to writing, possibly strenuous. Go for some long hikes, go kayaking. Look through books of design and great art. Just pictures, no words. It is supposed to rejuvenate people who write a lot.
A: I was an English major at a liberal arts college, who became a technical writer/project leader technoid for software companies in the Silicon Valley. I have returned to my creative writing roots and been cranking out feature length screenplays, short scripts, entering contests, and going to pitchfests for a number of years.
I have written five other feature length screenplays, two television series pilots, and nine short films. The feature films range from a comedy about the Silicon Valley, to science fiction, to a magical comedy and a satire of the 1950's private detective genre. I called it "True Detective" but apparently somebody else is already using that title.
One of my short scripts, "The Guy Knows Everything" was produced by 386 Films in Orlando. It has done very well in various film festivals and even had a special screening at Sundance. It is available on streaming video on the production company's website, www.386films.com. It is twenty-six minutes long and as the offbeat title suggests, defies being put into a single genre.
A: I live outside the glow of Los Angeles but would like to spend most of the year there. I don't have an exact date.Q: What's next? Are you working on a new script?
A: Inspiration can come from anywhere at anytime. I was recently sitting on my couch ready to (hopefully) brainstorm a hundred story ideas non-stop. Just to see if I could do it. The first word I wrote down produced images and a story that just exploded in my head. I didn't have to bother with the other ninety-nine. This will be my next project.
It takes place in a small town, is based on a true story someone told me more than twenty years ago. Has this story been gathering steam in my subconscious for all this time? We shall see.
Posted Tuesday, July 15, 2014