Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter Elan Carlson

An interview with screenwriter Elan Carlson regarding the Wildsound Writing Competition.

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

A: My script CAHOOTS is the story of a couple of quirky rail hands who thrive on beans and beer and commit to the most bizarre act ever in the early West.

When their fishing village is attacked by brutal immigrant thugs, a Chinese family of three females runs for secret shelter pleading help back to China from a pair of bickering Scottish and Irish rail hands who work a remote railroad spur. Smitten by La Ling's courage and beauty, Haggis twists Ketch's terrified arm until he says yes. Now undercover the women bring the five together in a survival of scheming, conniving, buggering -- and the rail hands find themselves changed forever.

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

A: WILDsound is known for its outstanding representation of film, so when I saw the 2014 opportunity to submit my screenplay, we popped right to it!

At first draft, CAHOOTS received rating of "Excellent - Ranking 11 of 1837" with Trigger Street. 2014 La Femme Film Festival has awarded CAHOOTS Screenplay Finalist, and Women's Independent Film Festival has awarded CAHOOTS First Place Winner in their 2014 script competition.

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: The administration of this contest is a treasure! They take great time to provide the most expert, detailed feedback, even allowing my choice to incorporate the committee's ideas or stay with my draft. With caring support, they honored each deadline and every award they promised, and I'm forever grateful for their insightful niggles to enhance my story.

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

A: This script took about two years -- I was working full-time and scheduled all chores and classes for after work so I was free to wallow in whole weekends of writing, writing!

Yes, I enjoy outlining every work. With WILDsound I wrote three drafts for feedbacks, then focused on Matthew Toffolo's first insightful feedback clarity.

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 is my software for script writing. For other creations, I use Word Perfect.

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

A: Writings have usually been weekends, but now I have more daily time. The hours are driven by the characters' weavings of their compelling journeys (that make me laugh and cry), an average of eight hours daily. They do tell me when it's time to eat or hit the biffy, and I always brush my teeth before we meet to write.

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

A: Never have I experienced writer's block. The characters who grab me to be their pen are relentless, passionate and unstoppable. But they always allow me a moment when it's my food or biffy time. No, they have never, ever hit me with one of those writer's blocks!

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

A: Started writing in the second grade and was gifted with teachers all along the way. I studied at UCSD, Armstrong College (where my human interest submissions were published in the Berkeley Gazette), then on to studies with Richard Walter UCLA. Dov S-S Simens, Syd Field, Robert McKee, John Truby, William Goldman, David Trottier, and Trigger Street.

I have written five scripts -- the early three are now at final rest, and this year the fourth has received a nomination for the 2014 Screenplay Award with CAIFF.

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

A: Some time ago I lived in North Hollywood and in Hollywood, but I hadn't thought of moving back...

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

A: Yup -- I've a new script driving my pen day and night, and another bunch of characters jabbing me with their idea to get started on their outline -- now!

Posted Monday, November 10, 2014