Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter John Fuhrman

An interview with screenwriter John Fuhrman regarding the Wildsound/TV Writing Competition.

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

A: "Up Country Motors" is my winning entry for November with Wildsound. It's a sitcom with a stressed out, recently divorced New York City auto sales manager, who moves to Vermont to avoid making big money that he must share with his new ex.

He finds the new dealership is in danger of closing if he can't turn it around. Doing so requires that he work with the owner's kids, a son who wants to cash out and go on the pro bass fishing circuit, and the daughter who is a walking blond joke. The sales staff consists of a semi-minister, a con man, a over the top feminist and a farmer who seems to wear more manure than his crops.

Q: What made you enter this particular contest? Have you entered any other contests with this script? If so, how did you do?

A: The contest was recommended by Writer's Digest and I had been working on the script for a while. This is the first contest I've actually entered.

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: Wildsound was more than I expected. After my initial entry, they made some great suggestions on improving the script. I took their advice, made the adjustments and resubmitted the pilot. They sent back more notes, I made some minor final touches, sent it back and found that I won. Since they announced my win, they have kept me posted regarding views of the video and what I can do to help promote my script.

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 actually started by writing back stories on my core characters. Once that was done, it didn't take very long to complete the script. I've already have the next few episodes nearly complete.

Ultimately, I did three drafts. As mentioned, I submitted my first draft and en rewrote based on advice from Wildsound.

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 don't use any software. Not that I'm opposed to it, but I'm a conversational writer in all the books I've had published and went with that. What I did find extremely helpful is studying actual scripts from top sitcoms. As I become more tech savvy, I have no doubt that I'll consider software in the future.

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

A: i do write every day. In addition to scripts, I am always working on books, speeches, and even sales letters. Writing every day, regardless of genre or format, keeps me on my game.

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

A: I'm lucky in that writer's block doesn't happen very often. I think there are two big reasons. First, I know who I'm writing for and that is incredibly helpful in pushing through to find the story. Second, writing every day and indifferent formats is a huge help in allowing me to switch up, get writing and then go back to where I was.

When I do come up against a wall and breaking for a coffee doesn't help, I leave. I go out and walk. Living up here in Maine affords awesome scenery for distractions. For example, the other day, I was walking a trail and looked up in this dead tree and there were two bald eagles perched. Most people would agree that this is something really cool. I saw those birds looking down and I envisioned two sales people leering at a customer on the lot. By the time I got home, the scene was written.

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

A: i have been writing books since 1996. Back then they told me I'd never get a book published. Now I have 10 and two in the works. Initially curious about the difference between books and screenwriting, I decided to give it a try. Because much of my work is on the serious side, and I like to laugh when not working, I gravitated to sitcoms.

I had first tried to write a screenplay for a movie but didn't feel comfortable. So, I took a step back, developed my characters and soon realized they would be better suited for 30 minutes of TV time.

My second pilot idea is called "hook, Line &Sinker," which is best described as "Home Improvement" goes fishing. It's about a Shakespearean trained actor who is out of work, broke and a single dad. BHS chain-smoking agent Babs only has one job for him. Take over as the host of a local fishing show in Alabama.

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

A: i now live on the coast of Maine and have access to get to LA for long term work. If the opportunity presents itself, I would find a place in LA and keep a place here for down time.

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

A: Right now, the contest win kicked me in the pants to get more scripts done so that producers can see more about the potential for a series. My focus is in letting each of the characters develop their own quirks and strengths.

Posted Saturday, November 8, 2014