Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter Wesley Mullins

An interview with screenwriter Wesley Mullins regarding the Fade In Writing Competition.

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

A: My script Troublesome Creek was entered in the Fade In Awards and won First Prize in the drama category. Troublesome Creek is the story of a small town policeman who investigates the murder of a popular local citizen and begins to suspect the crime was committed by his own nephew, a troubled young man he helped raise. He's pulled in different directions and must chose between his obligations to his badge and his loyalty to his family. But more than the plot, the script is about the people and culture of the part of Eastern Kentucky where I grew up. It details much of what is admirable about that part of the country (close families, strong communities), but it also deals with prescription drug abuse, political corruption and the destructive nature of big money and big power.

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 knew very little about this industry when I finished Troublesome Creek. I did a simple online search for screenwriting contests and the Fade In Awards were the first hit. It was the first contest I entered, and since I was given First Prize, I was convinced to continue submitting my work. I've entered it in a couple dozen contests so far. It also won Best Screenplay in the San Pedro International Film Festival and Third Place in the IFQ Film and Webisode Festival. I advanced to quarters, semis or finalist nine other times. Two of those contests (Omaha and Harlem) performed part of the script live at their film festivals, which was pretty exciting.

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: I've been more than satisfied with the people at Fade In. Dealing with them has been a great experience. In addition to the money ($1,000) and fountain pen given with the prize, they provided 10 pages of notes and suggestions for my story, as well as a complete redline edit of my entire script. I'm not sure who at Fade In was actually reading my screenplay and providing that feedback, but I consider it more valuable than the gifts they provided. Having my work read for the first time by a true professional who took the time to understand my goals as a writer and provide feedback that was meant to help me realize my vision was a real treat.

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

A: I wrote my first draft in nine months. I was meeting weekly with other writers and bouncing ideas and scenes off them. Their feedback went a long way in filling out the story and helping motivate me to complete it. I recently finished the 8th rewrite of Troublesome Creek. I have been working on it for almost three years now. After I complete a new version, I take some time away from it before picking it up again.

I didn't write an outline, but I always knew where the story was going in my mind.

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 wrote Troublesome Creek with simple formatting functionality in Microsoft Word. But now I write everything in Final Draft.

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

A: No. I have a career in the real world, so I do almost all of my writing on weekends. I also don't start to type out a scene until I have it completely worked out in my head. I don't "set aside" time to write; I wait until I have 8-10 pages ready in my mind and then knock them out in a 3-5 hour session.

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

A: No. I do have a real problem of picking a story and sticking with it though. The "new idea" always seems more exciting than the one I am working on at the time.

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

A: I have an undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky to be a High School English Teacher and a Master's Degree in English from Morehead State University. I never used my teaching background and have worked in the corporate world, writing business proposals, for the last decade.

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

A: I live in San Diego and drive up to LA often. I have no plans to move there at this time.

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

A: Doing the Film Festival circuit takes up a lot of my time now. I had two short plays performed in the last year, and I'm working on a few other things. But my primary focus now is to find directing/producing partners for Troublesome Creek. A realistic plan would be to get together a small amount of money and shoot the first scene. Then we could use that scene to try to attract a production company and/or crowdfunding donations.

Posted Saturday, October 18, 2014