Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter Randy Gross

An interview with screenwriter Randy Gross regarding the Asbury Park Music Writing Competition.

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

A: The Obligatory. It’s a film-within-a-film romcom centering on efforts by two amateur filmmakers, Mitch Jimson and his friend C-Track, to create a film noir that’s set in China during the Olympics. With casting in place (Mitch as the detective, and his new love interest, Monica Veronica, in the lead role of “The Gymnast Who Showed Cleavage”), they ask family friend (and Elvis impersonator) Jon Calamine to help secure financing. After some struggles – and the realization that budget constraints will force them to film in Chinatown instead of Beijing - they find a money man in the person of Leo Rinky, the quirky owner of the Prince Albert Meats company. The movie gets filmed, and all seems right in their world – until suddenly, at the private screening, Mr. Rinky demands that they add an “obligatory” Christmas scene.

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

A: One of the two primary settings for the story is Asbury Park, so of course it seemed like a natural fit for the festival. And I'd say it worked out pretty well for me.

The script finished high in two previous competitions:

It finished as a Quarter-finalist in the January 2015 Writemovies International 37 Screenwriting Contest, and also was a Finalist in 2012’s Kuzmacinema Feature Script Competition in Moscow.

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, very satisfied. Everything was communicated and conveyed in a timely fashion, and they couldn’t have treated me and my family any better. The whole festival experience was thoroughly enjoyable, and Asbury Park is such a cool beach town to visit. Plus the organizers are continuing to work to find industry contacts for me, so I’m hopeful that only bigger and better things lay ahead for both me and 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: Yes, I started with an outline (I always do) and the initial draft probably took about six months. But since then I’ve probably revised and re-edited the entire screenplay three or four times – most recently, just before entering the Asbury Park festival.

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 for the initial draft. But recently I’ve found it easier to just write things using regular Microsoft Word.

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

A: I make it a habit to write for a minimum of 30 minutes every day – but strive to do more than that, of course. And my daily self-marketing efforts probably take up more than double that amount of time.

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

A: I don’t think I’ve experienced full-blown paralyzing writer’s block in about 15 or 20 years now – and I think I owe that to my career in advertising (and radio advertising in particular) which has forced me to write – and write fast – every single day.

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

A: To date, my primary area of success has been in playwriting – with plays of varying length having been staged now in 12 U.S. states, and also Sydney, Australia. But I also have four other feature-length screenplays that I’m trying to market, and I’ve written several TV pilot scripts – one of which, "Not My Grandfather’s Ears," received a one-year option after finishing as a finalist in 2012’s Search For America’s Newest Comedy Writer (conducted by the ANA Alliance for Family Entertainment).

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

A: No, I live in Pennsylvania. I would rather not uproot my family right now, but if I did, I’d probably be more inclined to relocate to New York.

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

A: Yes, I have a new feature screenplay already outlined and ready to be written. First I need to put the finishing touches on a full-length play that will be debuting Off Broadway in October … plus a One Act premiering in Maryland in September. But after I put those two projects to bed, it’ll be full steam ahead again with my screenwriting.

Posted Monday, May 11, 2015