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Matt Joseph Misetich

Henry Dunham

By | Exclusive Interviews

– Henry Dunham, winner of the 2015 Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition with the contained crime/thriller Militia, which is currently in production with Dunham directing. Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead) to star alongside Jack Huston (American Hustle) and Ralph Ineson (The Witch). A Detroit native and Michigan State alum, Henry has written, directed, and produced his own short films prior to Militia. Prior to entering the Script Pipeline competition, how had you tested the waters—submitting to production companies, other contests, querying managers and agents. . . ? To be honest, I never submitted to production companies/agencies blindly before because I used to intern for them and spent a lot of the time having to actually read those blind submissions, seeing firsthand how futile a process it is. You’re not getting the attention you think you are, and some kid (like me) who’s probably very tired and probably over-worked is reading your story, and it’s just….

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Another Top 10 Films You’ll Never See on a Top 10 List

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Sneakers (1992) See that poster? The list of names? If you’re over 25 years old, you might recognize all of them because they’re all legendary. One of the finest casts ever assembled. Superbly written and directed. Vastly underrated. Unless I missed something in the past decade or so, I don’t think Hollywood makes movies like this anymore. There would be a perceived lack of box office draw, as it doesn’t fit neatly in a particular genre and it’s not based on an existing property, albeit it was helmed by the already established Phil Alden Robinson (Field of Dreams), Walter F. Parkes (WarGames), and Lawrence Lasker (also WarGames). This is no Ocean’s Eleven, or cookie-cutter crime/dramedy ensemble. It doesn’t resort to big action pieces, evil villains, or contrived twists, which conceptually it could have very easily gotten away with. Sneakers is what I would refer to as a “low-key thriller,” although even that moniker isn’t quite accurate. Watch it yourself,…

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Stop Trying to Win An Oscar

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Many years ago, in the quasi-rebellious suburbs of Los Angeles, I read somewhere that the first thing you should do before starting a screenplay is write your Oscar acceptance speech. It was the opening paragraph in one of the six billion books on screenwriting. I figured it had to be good advice. And you know what? I did it. I wrote my Oscar speech, I wrote the script, and would later win an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Twice. . . . please. I thought that recommendation was just as ridiculous when I was 17 as I do now. The intent is genuine, though. By many counts admirable. The point, of course, is to motivate you to keep writing, to have something bigger to aim for. To not give up. Like that lame cat poster: if you “hang in there,” great things will happen. And it’s more or less true. But the problem isn’t that writing an Oscar speech sets an…

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The Top 10 Films You’ll Never See on a Top 10 List

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You know, there comes a time when we have to search far beyond the limits of our conscious mind and determine who we are. Our identity as writers and filmmakers, in the hopes of discovering our creative selves. Where we fit in the cinematic landscape. And I’m sorry, but you have to stop saying The Shawshank Redemption is your favorite movie. All of you. According to studies, 35% of “frequent to highly frequent” movie-goers side with The Shawshank Redemption as their default motion picture darling. Over 20% pick The Godfather or a Woody Allen movie, while the remainder select films in AFI’s best movie list or smaller but highly popular cult favorites. Sure. These are all excellent movies. Without a doubt, there are actual Shawshank fans out there. And yes, the aforementioned statistics may be nothing more than my educated guess based on IMDB’s rankings and have no scientific basis whatsoever (like I have time to do…

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When Is Your Screenplay Finished?

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Rather than spur a micro-analyzed philosophical debate impossible to win, allow me to first clarify: the process of writing a screenplay does end. Because it has to. A protege of Mario Puzo isn’t locked up in some Bronx basement still writing The Godfather in an eternal, Sisyphean loop of infinite futility. It was written, it was produced, and it was released. Script done. The End. Or “fin,” if you’re into that sorta thing. This whole “you’re never done writing a screenplay!” nonsense is nothing more than buzzy seminar filler and pseudo-screenwriting advice to arouse, I guess, comradery amongst writers. But it’s easy for some to take this claim literally and sit stoic on the fallacy that no matter what they do, they haven’t “finished” their script. It’s one of the easiest ways to spoil a sense of accomplishment. So they edit, rewrite, tweak, polish. . . usually without professional guidance, erroneously making an educated guess at what needs work,…

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The Myth of “Realistic” Writing

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“Just write it more realistic,” they said. Makes sense. Realism. That’s like everyday stuff, right? Easy. And then, maybe an hour later, you break down–this hollow, brink-of-tears, absurd frustration stemming neither from the sadness of failure nor the euphoria of success. Those would be concrete emotions. This is utter confusion—a special breed of creative annoyance impossible to solve. A riddle without an answer. “Write something realistic,” you repeated aloud. “What does that mean? Am I living in reality right now?” Yes. You are. Truth is, all writers have been there, and hitting this dead end is no fault of your own. Because “write realistically” doesn’t really mean anything, at least not without context. Over the last decade, I’ve given (and received) the old-timey “just make it realistic” note probably over 100 times. Basically, what the reader is saying is that the experience should come off as “realistic” within the world you’ve created. Specifically. What they may…

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