Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter Chance Muehleck

An interview with screenwriter Chance Muehleck regarding the Cinestory Feature Writing Competition.

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

A: It’s a revenge thriller called Honey Red. A wayward young woman with a dangerous secret upends the lives of a rustic town when she falls in love with her father’s killer.

A twisty Texas gothic with a comic underbelly. I’m told it puts people in mind of the Coens, and that’s just fine by me.

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

A: CineStory came across my radar in 2014 and the more I researched it, the more envious I became. The level of support and mentorship seemed second to none, and the retreat happened on this fabulous magic mountain just outside LA. It was among the first places I submitted Honey Red.

I posted the script on The Black List and got some solid scores there.

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: To all of the above: Absolutely. Let’s remember that CineStory is a non-profit, and the folks who run it are as genuine and dedicated as you could wish for. The whole team made special efforts to address our needs and kept things running with verve and humor. They were expert cat wranglers.

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

A: It look about three months from soup to nuts. I always make some sort of outline; here, it was more of a beat sheet to focus me as I mapped the character arcs.

In terms of drafts, I’m odd in that I edit as I write. So my first drafts are often more polished than they would be otherwise. Rewrites are then a matter of honing, shaping, and clarifying. With Honey Red in particular, everything was orbiting around theme.

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. All my notes are in Word. I’m a Basic Betty.

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

A: I do. The hours vary, but it probably averages to 5 or 6.

There are two kinds of writing, though. There’s the fingers-hitting-keys writing, and there’s the staring-into-space-like-a-broken-robot writing. It’s far harder to argue that you’re being productive with the second kind. But the truth is, that’s when I get most of my work done.

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

A: Well, that’s mostly fear, isn’t it? And everyone gets afraid. The trick for me is to distinguish between doubt and fear. A healthy, critical doubt can serve the work, whereas fear is crippling. It’s the voice telling you to hang it up because you’ll never be worthy of your stories.

But you have to plow through that. If you let fear kill the desire, you’ll never know how good you can actually get. You’ll never grow. And that would be a terrific shame.

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

A: I have a theatre background and run a company with my partner called The Nerve Tank. I’ve been writing film and television scripts for some time, though. My sci-fi pilot Sight made the finals of the Warner Bros. TV Writers Workshop, and my spec for The Leftovers just won second place in’s Spec Scriptacular.

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

A: I’m based in NYC but have become more bi-coastal with each season. It’s safe to say that I plan to spend a lot more time in LA.

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

A: I just finished a contained sci-fi feature called Black Marble, and am ramping up to write a new original pilot.

Ongoing projects include proofing my texts and composing the perfect tweet (#ImDoomed).

Posted Thursday, January 28, 2016