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Exclusive Interviews

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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Morgan Von Ancken

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– Morgan von Ancken, writer of Cutting Numbers (2013 Script Pipeline Screenwriting Contest winner). After being announced as the Grand Prize winner, Morgan later signed with agency powerhouse UTA. Cutting Numbers is a unique premise in a genre (essentially an indie dramedy) usually devoid of true originality. How’d the concept come about? My first job out of college was a temping gig where I transcribed thousands and thousands of handwritten names into a spreadsheet. One of the ways I coped with the monotony was by inventing a super sad series of little games. In my favorite one, I pretended that each name I invoiced was someone whose life—in some anonymous, inexplicable way—I was saving. The responsibility was empowering, and I remember extrapolating each person’s personality and appearance from their name and handwriting. It kept me sharp, too. If I screwed up and skipped a name, that person’s blood was on my…

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Haji Outlaw

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– Haji Outlaw, writer of Deadmen (2013 Script Pipeline Screenwriting Contest runner-up) You were a former Script Pipeline finalist with a TV spec for the comedy Eastbound and Down. Your 2013 runner-up screenplay, Deadmen, is a western (technically), yet a “lighter,” psychological western. What’s the transition like writing straight comedy to this type of material? Honestly, the transition from straight comedy to Deadmen wasn’t much of a transition. It just comes down to telling a story and characters for me. As long as the story and characters are interesting, I’m ready to write it. I actually wrote the first draft of Deadmen about four months after I wrote Eastbound. Even though I’ve done standup for nearly 10 years and wrote Eastbound, the majority of what I enjoy watching are not comedies. My favorite TV show of all-time is The Wire (and currently Breaking Bad), and my favorite movie of all-time…

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Andy Demsky

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– Andy Demsky, writer of Totaled (2012 Script Pipeline Contest winner) Without giving away too much of the concept, what prompted you to come up with the idea for Totaled? A few years ago, a friend was telling me how his car had been totaled and I should have been listening to him, but instead my internal English Major was geeking out on how much that one word packs into it. If you say your car is totaled, I know there was a wreck, probably pretty bad. There was surprise, fear, and uncertainty, maybe pain, but certainly drama. Someone got pissed, someone may have faked an injury. Police may’ve been called. The car had to go to a body shop for evaluation, phone calls had to be made to an insurance company, someone along the line shouted “This is bullshit!” and the owner is now faced with a lot of…

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Jason Vaughn

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– Jason Vaughn, writer of The Synth House Wife (2012 Script Pipeline Screenwriting Contest winner). Synth is currently in the latter stages of development and is headed toward production. Describe the process of writing The Synth House Wife. Where did the concept stem from, and what type of story did you want to tell? My concept was triggered by that scene in Minority Report when John Anderton takes the precog, Agatha, to a hacker who helps people live out their fantasies. I thought, what if an entire story was focused on a man going someplace to relive one night of his life? What if this fantasy involved a woman he loved? What if the facility could create a physical simulacrum of her? And, if he wasn’t going for sex (as other people would, in this future), then why was he going? Thinking of trying a short story, not a screenplay,…

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Jason Kaleko

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– Jason Kaleko, Writer of Hold Up! (2012 Script Pipeline Contest Winner). Jason is currently developing new material with Script Pipeline development execs and other Pipeline industry partners. Your winning script was touted by some of the judges as one of the best comedies that came through Script Pipeline in years—why do you think that is? Is writing comedy tougher than people think? Comedy writing is tough because it’s such a fine line between the ludicrous that makes us laugh and the ludicrous that makes us roll our eyes. Comedy is rarely universal and even more rarely timeless. Austin Powers had people rolling in the aisles in the late 90s, but now, many people consider those films to be silly and corny. There seems to be a “you had to be there” element to all humor—but comedies like Tootsie or Dr. Strangelove persist because there’s a structure and wit to…

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Marc-Andre Samson

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– Marc-Andre Samson, writer of I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead (2011 Script Pipeline Contest winner). Marc’s horror film Where the Devil Dwells will be released in 2015. What do you think clicked so well with I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, making it one of the top scripts we received in 2011? Hopefully, it’s because of the characters. . . and people seem to dig the non-stop action in the third act. I think the script has a nice balance of mystery and action. How many scripts, roughly, have you written? How long have you been writing? I started writing stories when I was in third grade and never stopped. I wrote about a dozen scripts so far. . . some good, some not-so-good. However, I had fun writing all of them. Do you stick to a certain style or genre? Are there certain themes running throughout all your screenplays? Crime and horror….

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Tyler Burton Smith

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– Tyler Burton Smith, writer of Henchman (2011 Script Pipeline Contest Winner). In addition to working as a writer for video game content, Tyler is in development on multiple feature film projects. He’s repped by Chris Goble at Grandview. Henchman is an animated comedy. Given the fact Pixar and . . . well, Pixar has such a stronghold on the mainstream, studio world of animation, did you see this script as more of a writing sample, or something that had a legit shot at the big-budget animated market? I definitely saw Henchman as more of a sample when I was writing it. I knew there were a lot fewer opportunities for optioning an animated script, but it was a story I really wanted to tell. Sometimes, I just have to go with my gut and write the stories I’m excited about, because those are the ones that come out the…

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David Love

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– David Love, writer of Unorthodox (2011 Script Pipeline TV Writing Contest Winner). In 2014, David wrote an episode of the FX show Partners and is continuing a career in TV writing and development. What was the motivation behind writing Unorthodox? How long it take from concept to finished product? I guess I’ve always had some pretty major hang-ups with religion. When I was very young, my parents put me in an after school program at Chabad, where they approach the Bible as the literal word of God. This made absolutely no sense to me, but they were my teachers, and I had been taught to trust them. It created a cognitive dissonance in me that would one day lead me to write Unorthodox, so for that, I guess I should be thankful. I had originally conceived the show as Malcom in the Middle with Orthodox Jews, but the more I…

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Matthew Bozin

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– Matthew Bozin, writer of Granite Falls (2011 Script Pipeline Screenwriting Contest winner; 2012 Screenwriting finalist) What was one of the main motivations to become a screenwriter? I remember watching movies at a very young age and just thinking to myself that I wanted to be a part of that in some way. I wasn’t really sure how, and I think that stayed in the back of my mind over the years until I got to high school and took an interest in writing. I’m not sure when I put the two together, but I do recall reading an article about Fight Club, where Brad Pitt said how he met the writer and told him it was the best damn script he’d ever read, and thinking, I want to do that. Early on, what was one of the more challenging aspects of writing? Coming up with a concept? The execution…

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