Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter Vishnu Sekar

An interview with screenwriter Vishnu Sekar regarding the Cinequest Writing Competition.

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

A: 'Shiva' is the name of my script and my protagonist -- a young man obsessed with Bollywood films in Sri Lanka during the 1980's. He's racially profiled and arrested by cops for a crime he didn't commit. They torture him to elicit a false confession. Shiva makes an elaborate prison escape that begins to unravel as a fantasy inspired by his favourite Bollywood film.

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

A: I liked some of the former Maverick Winners like JJ Abrams and Neil Gaiman, who happens to be one of my favourite writers.

My script has been selected as a semi-finalist in the Page International Screenplay contest. I'm still waiting for the final results.

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, the awards were great for a short screenplay.

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 did write an outline, but I had most of the screenplay in my head the moment I conceived the premise. I usually follow a rough outline when I write. I seriously can't tell you how many drafts I wrote because I kept getting feedback and tweaking my script. The changes were small from one draft to another, but I think they made all the difference. It's difficult to say how long I worked on this because I write several screenplays simultaneously. When I wait for feedback on one script, I draft another, and so on.

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 used Celtx, but I have moved on to Highland, which I find easier and more intuitive to use.

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

A: I don't write every day because I have to balance writing with my day job. I write for about six to eight hours, four days a week. Sometimes, I write all day every day, even after work, if I'm nearing a contest deadline or if my creative juices are flowing. I intend to write more hours regularly in the future.

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

A: I do get writer's block. Sometimes I have to step away from the project and work on something else. Or I go for a walk. Meditation helps. I look to films, books and music for inspiration. If nothing works, I silence my inner critic and I force myself to write even if it doesn't sound good to me. I usually keep a note and come back to that point, later on, to see if it can be improved.

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

A: I've got a BA in Film and English and I've worked in the media before. I've written a number of screenplays and teleplays that have placed well in writing contests.

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

A: I live in Sydney, Australia, but I'd like to move to LA soon.

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

A: I'm currently working on a TV pilot set in Boston that I want to submit to contests and pitch. I'm going to adapt the pilot into a graphic novel and pitch to a publisher or self-publish it via Amazon.

Posted Tuesday, August 16, 2016