Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter John Martins

An interview with screenwriter John Martins regarding the Faith in Film Writing Competition.

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

A: "Arizona Sunrise" is the story of a young teenager in Arizona who struggles with the separation of his parents, as well as the death of his best friend from a school shooting. With the help of his basketball coach and his growing faith, he's able to become emotionally-well again, so the story definitely has an "up-ending" to it.

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

A: Since I'd consider "Arizona Sunrise" a faith/family drama, I typically try to enter the script in those particular contests which focus on either faith or family, although I have entered it in general drama contests as well. The story has done well in numerous contests, including the 11th Annual StoryPros Competition, where it came in first place in the Family/Teenager/Animation category. It came in first place (not grand prize) in the 2019 Sunny Side Up Film Festival in Ardmore, Oklahoma, as well as winning the 2019 Red Dirt Film Festival in Stillwater, Oklahoma. "Arizona Sunrise" was also a finalist in the 2018 Los Angeles Movie Awards, and a finalist in the 2018 Hollywood Divine Film Festival in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. The story was a top-10 semifinalist in the 2018 Nashville Film Festival. It's currently in the running in four other screenwriting competitions. I'm very grateful for all of it.

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. Joseph Grant quickly contacted several literary managers and a couple of producers, mailing them copies of the story. Speaking to him over the phone on a couple of occasions, he truly cares about screenwriters, and the administration of the Faith in Film Screenwriting Competition. Thank you, Joseph Grant.

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

A: That's a long story. But to shorten it, I started writing the story as a young adult novel, and then adapted it into a screenplay. My story is quite, quite old, which has been rewritten somewhere between 20 to 25 times over the years. I tend to outline my stories, which almost forces me into a trial-and-error process, but it works for me.

Q: What kind of software did you use to write the script, if any? What other kinds of writing software do you use?

A: It's not that I'm against software, but I don't use it. That comes more from the fact that I started this journey of screenwriting many, many, many years, before software was even introduced. I started on a manual Remington typewriter. I'm a believer in being comfortable in who you are as a writer, creating your own personal regimen.

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

A: Can't say that I do, but I certainly try. Time goes by much faster as you get older, so it doesn't seem to be as much of a drudgery as when I was younger. A couple of evening hours can go by very quickly. Being a screenwriter means we can be writing, in a sense, while we watch some terrific films. I'm constantly aware of my surroundings as a screenwriter--what people say, do, human behavior--what's on the news. Everything should be funneled into "screenwriting mode."

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

A: Luckily, no, because I don't put any pressure on myself regarding deadlines. I understand being "undiscovered" means I have that luxury right now. My process is very methodical and time consuming. I believe stress creates writer's block. Remove the stress, remove the writer's block.

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

A: Most recently, a former elementary school teacher. Yes, over the years, I've written approximately 20 screenplays, six theatrical plays, three television scripts, and two novels (unpublished). After a while, it becomes a lifestyle. Writing is my life.

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

A: No, I don't live in Los Angeles. Nothing against it, but I would have to get a bite/purchase before making a move. Since I focus on features and not television, not sure how necessary it is, but I'm sure it would help in networking. I am certainly not against commuting by plane.

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

A: Yes, I'm working on two screenplays simultaneously, as well as three other screenplays bouncing around in my head, all faith-based. I have enough story ideas to last me until the Second Coming, since my execution of the stories take so long in getting them where they need to be before submission. It's a long process not for the impatient.

Thank you, MovieBytes, for providing a wonderful website to all screenwriters.

Posted Wednesday, April 10, 2019