Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter Jonathan LaPoma

An interview with screenwriter Jonathan LaPoma regarding the Hollywood Screenplay Writing Competition.

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

A: THE WAY BACK HOME is a feature-length coming-of-age drama about a young animal-loving boy who must cope with his father’s insistence that he’ll someday work in the slaughterhouse that's employed the men of their family for several generations. It's a dark and disturbing look into the complexity of father and son relationships, and shows what horrors can result when shame and abuse are passed from generation to generation.

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 The Hollywood Screenplay Contest because of its reputation and the awards it offers.

I have entered THE WAY BACK HOME in other contests, and have won the following awards/honors:

-Chicago Screenplay Contest, 2014, 3rd Place: Drama Category -Indie Gathering Film Festival, 2014, Honorable Mention -Table Read My Screenplay, 2014 (Sundance), Semi-Finalist -WriteMovies, 2014, Quarter-Finalist

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: Yes. So far, they've delivered on all they've promised. I had my advisory meeting with Warren Smith at Summit Talent and Literary Agency, got my notes from Script Pipeline's review service and my membership to their Writers Database, and received my cash prize.

Overall, I'm very pleased with the administration of this contest, and I recommend The Hollywood Screenplay Contest to other writers.

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 the first draft in about five days, but I'd been developing the story in my mind for about a month before I started writing it.

I did write an outline beforehand, but it was just a brief listing of major plot points and general scenes. Typically, I don't like to get very detailed with my outlines; I prefer to let the story come to me when I write my first draft, and this is what I did with THE WAY BACK HOME.

After reading the first draft, I had a much better understanding of the story, and I wrote a more focused second draft. I ended up doing about four total drafts, and the whole project took me about a month and a half to finish.

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

A: Final Draft.

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

A: I see writing as more of a process than the mere act of putting words on paper. I don't "write" every day, but I do think of story ideas, characters, and jokes/bits of interesting dialogue on a daily basis.

When I write a screenplay or a novel, I'll try to spend as many consecutive days as possible writing it until it's complete. I like to get into a rhythm with my writing so that I can most fully enter the world of my story.

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

A: I can't think of a good answer to this question...

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

A: I've written five award-winning feature-length screenplays, two novels, hundreds of poems, and about sixty songs.

My screenplays have won a total of 23 awards/honors in a little over the past year, including first place finishes in the 2014 Awareness Film Festival, the 2014 West Field Screenwriting Awards ("The New York Award" category), and now the Grand Jury Prize in the 2014 Hollywood Screenplay Contest for best overall script out of more than one thousand submissions.

My novel, DEVELOPING MINDS: AN AMERICAN GHOST STORY, will be published by Laughing Fire Press in early 2015, and my short story, A SACRIFICE TO THE GOD OF THE BLUES, is featured in the November 2014 issue of 34thParallel Magazine.

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

A: No, but I live in San Diego, so I'm close.

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

A: I've written the outline for my next screenplay, but have put that project aside to focus on my poetry and songs. I plan to submit some of my poems to literary magazines, and I also plan to start a band soon, and I want to give these projects some momentum before I begin writing the next script.

Posted Monday, November 3, 2014