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5 Q&A's with Joshua Belton, 24-Hour Screenwriting Challenge winner

1. Joshua, congratulations on winning the 24-Hour Screenwriting Challenge at FilmCon Awards. We enjoyed reading “Embrace Yourself.”

In less than 24 hours, you wrote a short screenplay about a young transgender woman who struggles to face her family following her life-changing decision.

Let's talk about how you started out. Tell us about your background, what sparked your interest in screenwriting?

1. Thank you! I’ve always been a creative person. I never had a true way to express my creativity when I was younger, which caused me to just end up flowing through life with no real purpose. I found a love for screenwriting after I graduated high school, and it was the first time I felt like I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Ever since then I’ve been doing everything I can do to be the best writer I can be.

2. Your winning entry, “Embrace Yourself,” tells the story of Bella, who has just undergone sex reassignment surgery, and is meeting with her father at the hospital, for the first time as a woman. 5 years later, we learn that Bella's family hasn't accepted her transformation yet.

What message did you want to convey to transgender people in general and to people who need to accept themselves before society accepts them?

2. I’ve always found loving yourself and never selling yourself short such an important thing in life. With this story, I wanted to convey that although self love and self acceptance is a thing that’s often looked down upon by others due to their own selfish reasons, that it’s still very important to live life how you want to live. The LGBTQ community faces a lot of hardship and unnecessary hate, and I want this story to spread awareness that it’s okay to be you, and don’t let anybody tell you different.

3. Tell us about your writing process. How do you approach a new story? What kind of stories attract you?

3. I’m constantly thinking of different concepts, settings, and characters. It can sometimes get a little overwhelming actually, but once I have a strong foundation of a story I want to bring to life, the writing process itself is usually smooth sailing, with a couple of hiccups here and there. I’m big on fantasy and dramas, I think getting an emotional reaction out of your reader/viewer really speaks volumes to how much time and effort you put into your story.

4. What are some of the challenges in writing a short screenplay in 24 hours? Tell us about your experience with writing “Embrace Yourself.”

4. Really, just trying to think of a way to make the story as humane as possible while keeping the concept interesting. I didn’t want to write a story that was too bland or dry, so I actually ended up spending about 20 out of the 24 hours brainstorming a concept. I feel like there’s a lot of people in the world like Bella who are maybe still holding back on accepting themselves, due to the fear of not being accepted by others. I’m hoping this story can give them that little push they need!

5. In your opinion, what are the ingredients for creating a good screenplay? Do you have any tips for other first-time screenwriters?

5. Be authentic. No need to mimic other styles or base your screenplays off of how other people write or tell you how to write. Express yourself through the story you are writing, be yourself and you’ll always get the best outcome.

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