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Exclusive Interviews

Exclusive Script Pipeline interviews with writers and industry.

Jay Silverman

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Script Pipeline met director/producer Jay Silverman (The Cleaner) in 2015 and connected him and producer Bethany Cerrona with Script Pipeline Screenwriting Contest finalist Jen Goldson (Everything’s Gonna Be Okay). Jay went on to produce Jen’s romantic comedy Off the Menu in 2017. The film premiered in 2018 and stars Santino Fontana and Dania Ramirez. It’s available on Amazon and iTunes. You started your career as a photographer. How did you make the transition to the film/TV industry? Was it a logical next step given the types of connections you were making and the work you were doing, or did it take sort of a leap? Yes, I started as a photographer doing advertising. My speciality was working with people and celebrity endorsements. The transition into film started in the 90s when I began doing what I called hybrid filmmaking. It certainly seemed natural to offer live action along with my photography when a…

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Jen Goldson

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Writer Jen Goldson placed as a finalist in the 2015 Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition with her screenplay Everything’s Going to be Okay. At the Script Pipeline writer/industry event in Los Angeles that summer, she was introduced to producers Jay Silverman and Bethany Cerrona of Silverman Productions. Her pitch to them for another script, a romantic comedy, stuck. It was optioned right away and produced a little over a year later. Off the Menu was released on February 6th, 2018, starring Santino Fontana (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Frozen) and Dania Ramirez (Once Upon a Time, Devious Maids). Jen continues to write for both film and TV, with several projects in development. Your screenplay Everything’s Going to be Okay (aka egbok) was selected as a finalist in the 2015 Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition. At our industry event that year, you met Jay Silverman and Bethany Cerrona. A couple years later: your first produced film….

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Howard Jordan Jr. (Part 2)

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Howard Jordan Jr. placed as runner-up in the Script Pipeline TV Writing Competition with the comedy pilot Family Be Like. He later was accepted to the CBS Writers Diversity Program and locked down agency and management representation. In 2017, we was brought on the staff of the CBS sitcom Superior Donuts. His first solo-written episode aired in February 2018. It’s been two short years, and you went from runner-up in the Script Pipeline TV Writing Competition to staff writer on a CBS comedy. What pieces had to fall into place to get there? What was the process like?  I’m not sure if this is a good thing, along the lines of hopeful or inspirational, or a sad thing, a little more disappointing to hear. But all the clichés are true. Keep writing. Keep networking. Keep improving. There is no singular route to a room, or a sell. What continues to prove effective for…

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Ashley Kreeb

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– Ashley Kreeb, runner-up of the 2017 Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition with End of Life.  End of Life deals with some heavy topics, but what struck us is that you very wisely–and very carefully–avoided drawing too fine a point on the message behind the story. Was it difficult to keep things grounded while avoiding the risk of melodrama and “taking sides,” so to speak, on the issue of medically assisted suicide? I believe the only way to construct a substantial argument is by exploring the counterarguments. Consequently, I was insistent upon creating characters to represent both sides of the debate. Because of this, End of Life never sought to take sides–it sought to pit the inherent value of human life against the right of a terminally ill patient to die. Hopefully, this does as you said and avoids “drawing too fine a point on the message,” therefore expanding the target demographic and engaging more…

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Joshua Paul Johnson and Jamie Napoli

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– Joshua Paul Johnson and Jamie Napoli, winner of the 2017 Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition with Getaway.  Co-writing relationships can be tricky. It’s always impressive when a script turns out so tonally consistent when there’s more than one writer involved. How do you iron out who plays what role? What’s sort of your general dynamic? It’s a safe assumption that your instincts and styles fall in line, but what are some of the challenges in writing a feature with a partner? Jamie: I think we’re very lucky that we have similar, and perhaps similarly immature senses of humor. We’re often just trying to make each other laugh with each pass of the script. We can’t really have any ego or preciousness with our writing, because the only way this works is if we’re completely honest and brutal when things aren’t working. And I think often the biggest hurdle for us is staying confident…

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Penelope Chai and Matteo Bernardini

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– Penelope Chai and Matteo Bernardini, winner of the 2016 Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition with Cinderella Must Die.  Regardless of the fact 2016 turned out to be our best year for screenwriting, with so many fantastic finalist screenplays, Cinderella Must Die was a unanimous pick for the grand prize. Personally, when I read during the quarterfinalist round, 30 pages in I stopped immediately to text Chad (Script Pipeline’s Executive Director) and our development assistant to tell them they have to read this immediately. Part of this was due to the unique spin on the fairy tale, but mostly because of your writing style. Is style and crafting a unique voice—which is something we constantly emphasize for emerging writers—an area you feel can be refined through “deliberate practice,” meaning an element you can specifically work on, or is it something that simply comes from years of experience? What has helped each of you the most when…

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Nir Paniry

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– Nir Paniry, runner-up in the 2015 Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition with The Coyote.  What pushed you more into writing than any other field within the film industry? Besides the love of writing itself, I think it’s the autonomy of it all. Every other job in the film business relies on moving parts. If you’re a director you need a script. If you’re an editor you need a film, etc, etc. . . . You’re reliant on others in order to start creating. When you’re a writer (unless you’re on assignment) you are completely dependent on your own mind and gumption to put pen to paper. It’s insular, like painting a picture. I can think of a story tonight and start writing it tonight. There are not many  jobs in this business that function that way. And yes, ultimately if it moves up the pipeline, your story will change and morph and become a…

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Howard Jordan Jr.

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– Howard Jordan Jr., runner-up in the 2015 Script Pipeline TV Writing Competition with the comedy Family Be Like. An advertising industry veteran, Howard is pursuing a career in writing television comedy. You worked for many years in advertising. Tell us a little about your background and how you transitioned into TV writing. Technically speaking, my career started at 12. I ripped ads out of magazines, rewrote, and my mother mailed them in. But it officially began when I attended masters program “slash” boot camp for wannabe advertising creatives. My first job was at a small agency in Manhattan. I worked on anything and everything. I didn’t have time, or money, to do much else. But I managed to take sitcom writing classes at night. I’ve always loved sitcoms. And I’m kind of an unofficial pop culture encyclopedia, so I figured, why not do both? However, as I advanced from junior copywriter to creative director with famous campaigns…

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Henry Dunham

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– Henry Dunham, winner of the 2015 Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition with the contained crime/thriller The Standoff at Sparrow Creek (formerly Militia), which released in January 2019. The film, his feature directorial debut, received massive praise from Rolling Stone, Birth.Movies.Death, Slash Film, and other top critics. A Detroit native and Michigan State alum, Henry has written, directed, and produced his own short films prior to Standoff. 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…

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Josh Chesler

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– Josh Chesler, writer of Chasing Ghosts starring Tim Meadows (SNL) and co-writer of Underground (Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition finalist), currently in pre-production with LAConfab Entertainment. His latest projects include the surreal adventure screenplay David P. Boorman and the Quest for Good News and the TV series Extractors, co-written with Paul Connor. Chasing Ghosts will be available for digital download and on VOD and DVD April 21. Have your career goals always leaned toward film and writing? From as early as I can remember, I was interested in writing and telling stories. I started reading at a very young age and began voraciously devouring books as well as movies. In junior high, I wrote a lot of short stories just for fun–most of which are thankfully stored on obsolete media that can never be recovered. Then in high school, I had the good fortune of being able to take some film classes, which really changed my…

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Micah Barnett

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– Micah Barnett, writer of The Rabbit (Warner Bros.) with Chris Tucker attached to star. Micah also sold the television project Ricochet to NBC in 2013. In 2010, after receiving a “Recommend” on his screenplay The Merc List, Script Pipeline introduced Micah to manager Jake Wagner, who later signed him. What’s your background in the industry? What made you become a screenwriter? I was an English major in college and didn’t study film or even consider it a career, but I always loved movies. And I remember with only about a month before graduation I read an interview in some school publication with an alumni, Wendy Finerman, who talked about producing Forrest Gump. This was the first time I really thought about where movies came from. . . and I realized that, hell, someone has to actually create all of these great movies I’ve been consuming since as long as I can remember. Eventually, I worked up the…

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Debbie Lollie

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– Debbie Lollie, writer of Help Me Out, aka The Ex-Man (2013 Script Pipeline First Look Project Winner) You won the First Look Project with a romantic comedy revolving around what’s considered a “high-concept” premise. Was this a deliberate decision? To write something that might appeal to execs at the studio level? The goal and hope with any screenplay is always that it will be made into a movie. Therefore, attracting the industry’s attention with a “high concept” project is a key objective, but that term is highly subjective and difficult to define. I think of it as being a gut instinct. Something about a story idea just hits you and provokes an emotional reaction. I think another aspect is that the project is commercial. But a strong caveat here. I don’t think one can set out to write a “high-concept” script. That can’t be the primary driving force. Due to the subjective nature…

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Alex Ross

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– Alex Ross, writer of Hexen (2014 Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition Winner) Hexen was your first script—but for a screenplay this well-written, one worthy enough to win the Script Pipeline Grand Prize, “first script” is a bit misleading. How much time and energy did you put into the project before submitting to the competition? What was the impetus behind writing this type of story? I never considered myself to be a writer to be honest–not a good one, anyway. I’m mostly interested in exploring ideas and feelings through the image, not the word. I spent years looking for a project to direct, but nothing spoke to me, and it was frustrating. Then I heard Quentin Tarantino talk about how if his mother and father hadn’t gotten together, Reservoir Dogs would not exist today, and I took that as: we are all original, we all have things to say, we just have to find a way…

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Tom Krajewski

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– Tom Krajewski, writer of Supernormal (2014 Script Pipeline TV Writing Competition Winner) Your winning script Supernormal is a single-cam comedy with a surprisingly fresh spin on the superhero premise. Ultimately, it was both the concept and the writing that caught the attention of Script Pipeline judges. But did you think it was risky writing what many execs might unfairly label “another superhero script”? Or did you feel the writing alone would at least give it a chance? Thanks for the compliment–and I’m very honored to have won! I guess I didn’t think it was that risky (I guess I’m ignorant?). To me, the fresh spin–which is very clear in the logline–just sounds unique enough to get an exec’s interest (maybe I’m more arrogant than ignorant?). Anyway, I was also hoping that, once the reader got to the big twist at the end of act one, they’d get hooked after seeing…

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Tripper Clancy

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– Tripper Clancy, writer of Henry the Second (2010 Script Pipeline Screenwriting Contest Grand Prize Winner), and the upcoming Stuber (Fox), The Ambassadors (Fox), and Shedd (Paramount). In 2014, Tripper was hired to write the Kevin James adventure/comedy Stranded for Sony Pictures, and in 2017 was brought on board to write an adaptation for the critically acclaimed novel The Art of Fielding. You won the 2010 Screenwriting Competition with the comedy Henry the Second, and after industry circulation by Script Pipeline (with a very small handful of rejections), you secured representation relatively quickly. What has that process been like the last couple years? I was lucky enough to land my first agent about a month after moving to LA. Sure, it was a tiny agent at a tiny agency (and I had to pay formy own copies when a spec went out!), but I thought, “Holy shit, this is easy!” Five…

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