Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter billan lee

An interview with screenwriter billan lee regarding the Shriekfest Writing Competition.

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

A: Ghost of Vengeance.

Takes place in Vietnam, 1968. It's about American troops that are sent to capture a North Vietnamese Major. When they get ambushed, they retaliate and destroy a small farming village, killing the young and the old and unleashing a deadly curse upon themselves and others.

In the end this is a story about the horrors of war.

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 entered Shriekfest 2014 because of my talented screenwriting buddy Dan Hickman. He was a semi-finalist in 2012 and recommended the contest to me even though I didn't write horror at the time.

I've entered Fresh Voices but haven't had any results as of yet (10/22/2014). The reason I entered FV was because of another writing friend and the EXTENSIVE feedback that he received from the contest.

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 like the contest/festival. I ended up meeting some very cool down to earth people. Denise Gosett (founder of Shriekfest) is an extremely nice person and I have nothing but good things to say about her.

There weren't any awards promised but I did receive something from

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 think it's taken me about a 18 months to write Ghost of Vengeance, on and off.

The outline phase sucked. Hated it. But it helped me get the story going.

I'm on my 9th draft and soon to be 10th draft. Even after winning Shriekfest I still find that there are some tweaks to be done.

I've also found that I have so much material that I've considered doing a TV pilot. But being tied into one story for a long period of time really does scare me and makes me wonder if I will burn out.

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 use Final Draft. It does the job, but honestly I could just write with a pen and pad.

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

A: I have no idea how many hours I write. Sometimes it's a big fat zero, other days it's 2-4 hours. It really depends on my commitments and if I've been to the local dive bar the night before and nursing a hangover.

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

A: I get that all the time, especially if I've reworked a scene over and over again.

The way that I get over it is changing my location, writing in a different coffeeshop or listening to different music. I even sometimes will just meditate, close my eyes and visualize a scene. If that fails I just go hang out at the local dive bar knocking back ice-cold PBRs.

In the end, I try to outwork the Writer's Block.

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

A: Academy of Art in SF, I've done the Motion Picture program and the Advertising program.

I've written a script called Lester, that's my very first script and it's dear to my heart. Even though it may not be the best thing that I've ever written, it means a lot to me because it was a fictionalization of my father who had passed years earlier.

I'm working on another script in the crime/action genre called Blood Brothers and it's still a work in progress. I have high hopes for it and think it's got legs to go but still not happy about the final act. Hoping that I can nail it and move onto the next project or two.

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

A: Nope, don't live in LA. I'm in the San Francisco Bay Area, born and raised.

I don't have plans to move to LA, mostly because I can't stand any of the sports teams there, haha. But, I would move if I thought it was necessary for my writing/filmmaking career.

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

A: Well, I plan on taking Ghost of Vengeance and exploring the Graphic Novel route. However what I'm finding out is that it is a tough media to make money on, and a easy way to lose money and time.

There are about 3 "newish" scripts that are all in different stages. Nothing close to complete as of yet, but plenty to keep me busy. I'm also looking at working on a script that can be realistically shot for sub 200k.

Overall I'm just staying busy to tell you the truth.

Posted Thursday, October 23, 2014