Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter Tom Pavlock

An interview with screenwriter Tom Pavlock regarding the Wildsound 1st Scene Writing Competition.

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

A: The title is, "Where Serpents Lie"

“Where Serpents Lie” is about a Detective, Terry Naughton, who heads a crime unit known as CAY, Crimes Against Youth. Having lost a child himself, he dedicated his career to helping other children in harms way. “Serpents” is about a criminal called Horridus, who has been abducting children, dressing them as Angels, and letting them go, unharmed. The only clue he leaves is a piece of snakeskin tucked into the fabric of the Angels gowns. Terry believes that the actions of the Horridus will escalate, eventually leading to the children being harmed, or worse, killed.

At the beginning of the investigations, Terry is accused of actions, with evidence that seems 100% irrefutable, that puts him in a position to confront a dark past, as well as putting his career on the line. He is suspended, but continues to work the Horridus case behind the scenes while trying to find out who is framing him with these accusations.

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

A: Feedback, and a chance to have a scene read by actors is what motivated me to submit to WILDsound. I enjoyed watching the reading of my script. It was very interesting to hear words spoken by actors that I had written.

I also liked the fact that it was geared toward your first scene, basically your first ten pages. As writers, we're often told that the first ten pages are the key to getting the other ninety to one hundred, read. A contest geared toward this concept is great, because it allows you to really hone in on a specific scene, write it, get feedback, apply notes, write it again, and really work on it. It doesn't seem so daunting to get ten really good pages. It also allows the writer to think that way when you go back to rewriting and polishing the rest of the script. Break it down scene by scene, hone in, rewrite that scene, and make it the best it can be, then move on. You're breaking your rewrite down into small sections rather than thinking, "wow, I have to go back and rewrite a hundred pages." I'll be applying that as I go back and finish the rewrite on this script.

I have not entered any other contests with this script.

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 was completely satisfied with the contest, even more so being one of the two winners picked for November!

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 this script in a little over three months. I didn't outline, as this is a book adaptation. That being said, there are a thousand post-its throughout the book with notes on what to keep, what to get rid of, what doesn't need to be a part of the main story, etc.

I probably did about five or six drafts, but most of the rewriting to date has been to trim scenes, and fine-tune dialogue.

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.

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

A: Sadly, I don't get to write every day. I own a business, which takes up a great deal of time, but when I do get the chance, I write in spurts. Hopefully, if I can generate any buzz with this script, and break into the business with a sale, or some work, I can delegate more of my business work to others, and concentrate more on the writing. I know it's a longshot, but you never know what can happen. The only sure thing that can happen is you'll get nowhere if you don't try.

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

A: Writers block for me is finding time to write more than anything. With the exception of this script, I usually outline, so I always have that to go back to should I get stuck. Once in awhile, I'll jump ahead and try working on scenes further into the story, and that can jar an idea that may help me at the point where I'm stuck.

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

A: I've written two other originals. Nothing great, but they got done. I have not written anything with regard to television, but with such amazing shows out there, I have given a lot of thought to doing a spec for a show like NCIS, or Homeland. I know there are contests geared toward that, so that may be something I might try sooner rather than later.

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

A: I do live in the Los Angeles area, the San Fernando Valley. There are a lot of Industry people here, so it's a good place to be.

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

A: I am currently working on polishing the latest "Serpents" draft, while at the same time, I am outlining another original that I feel would be a good story for the times we are in today. Think "12 Angry Men" in terms of its format, but on a slightly larger scale.

Posted Sunday, December 28, 2014