Updated: Apr 12, 2020
1. Brandon, congratulations on winning 24-Hour Screenwriting Challenge at FilmCon Awards. We enjoyed reading “190 Vista Drive"! In less than 24 hours, you wrote a crime-comedy about an elderly woman who wants to leave the hospital, knowing a virus is nearing taking her life. Let's talk about how you started out. Tell us about your background, what sparked your interest in screenwriting? I started screenwriting because I loved movies and I loved English and story telling (I was an English major). Finally one day I was like "I should write my own movie" and that was ten years ago!
I've been writing ever since.
2. Your winning entry, “190 Vista Drive”, tells the story of Sienna, who is revealed as one scary old woman. We loved how she threatened her doctor ("I can also make you a dead man"), and honestly, we can't remember the last time we read about an 80-year-old criminal! How did you come up with the idea, and what do you think about crime-comedies in general?
I really just wanted to try and write something I thought would be different from maybe the other entries. When I saw the characters, I first thought that I wanted them to be entirely different (older Italian woman patient & younger black man doctor). The Italian ethnicity led me to think about the mafia/mob and it just kind of went from there. As far as crime-comedies, I am really into all genres. I have been trying to write in a variety of genres to have that versatility. I just like a good story.
3. Tell us about your writing process. How do you approach a new story? What kind of stories attract you?
I am big on outlines whenever I start a new project. When I get a new story I like to map out what I kind of want to happen beginning to end. At this point it's real vague. Then I go in and basically fill it in with the specifics that I want to happen and how I feel the characters will develop from the story line.
4. What are some of the challenges in writing a short screenplay in 24 hours? Tell us about your experience with writing "190 Vista Drive”. Probably the biggest challenge was just staying within the five page maximum while tying up the story so that it is complete. There were moments where I wanted to do a little more with it but I knew it wouldn't stay within that page limit. I had to be even more creative to keep everything tight in that small window so to speak. I enjoyed writing this story. I am really big on creating great character names that are maybe not heard a lot of times so creating Sienna Moretti and Dr. (Royce) Shipman to life with their names was fun and again just writing a story I felt would be different from others. I like to use different parts of me in my stories and as a teen I use to live at a 190 Vista Drive so that's that as well.
Brandon's latest film MIXER - a comedy about speed dating
5. In your opinion, what are the ingredients for creating a good screenplay? Do you have any tips for other first-time screenwriters?
It probably sounds like common sense but to me the good ingredients are just to have a solid and complete story. A plot and actions that make sense. I look at things in a pretty simple way and that is number one in my book. Then just molding your characters to fit into that story (even though sometimes they won't and may take you on another route). I also really enjoy creating unique dialogue. I think the unique dialogue is everyday talk. What I mean is that if you have two men about to go kill someone, I think it's cool if on their way they talk about the last movie they saw or argue over ice cream flavors. Something to normalize them. My main tip would be to just keep writing because it is practice and you'll get better and better, read scripts because you can pretty much find every script ever written, and most of all to me is WATCH MOVIES!
Thank you guys! Had a lot of fun and enjoyed it!!