FilmMakers.com / The Radmin Company 2003 Screenwriting Competition

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Guy Barresi

Fifth Place
 
Winner

Guy Barresi
of
Greenwich, CT
Screenplay
MAN OF CLAY
Drama / Mystery
Biography: I have been an Assistant Film Editor, sound effects designer and overall 'idea guy' in features films for 23 years. When I am between pictures I write whenever I am able. Originally an illustration student, I graduated from Syracuse University in 1980 with a degree in film. Soon after graduation I got my first feature film 'break' working in the cutting room on low-budget horror movies and I haven't left film editing since. I have become a veteran Hollywood 'foot soldier' who has worked on 24 features. 

I have been blessed to have worked with many talented people within features and am currently working on "The Mission" with Ron Howard. I have primarily been on his picture editorial staff since 1985. I have seen the whole spectrum of the feature business, budgets from two hundred thousand to one hundred million dollars. I've been allowed to be wildly creative and also slogged it out in the trenches. I've been part of the boom times and suffer with everyone else when times are slow. I'm married to a wonderful woman, Mary and have three great kids, Max, Olivia, and Emily.

Interview

I knew I wanted to be a screenwriter ....

My mother took me to see "Lawrence of Arabia" when I was five years old. All I could remember was the sheer scale of the images. It was so huge that when it was over I actually thought we had taken some wild trip. When I was a bit older, my buddies and I snuck into "A Clockwork Orange." I was hooked. However, I first felt I wanted to try be a screenwriter was when a 'major league' Hollywood producer, who I was working for at the time, raged at me that he had read 200 screenplays in the last year, only 5 of them were decent and only 3 of those were producible! I read voraciously and always have a million ideas floating around in my head. I moved around a lot as a kid and come from a fascinating line of folks. I have some stories to tell. I knew I had to give it a shot.

I know I've succeeded....

when a producer or story department boss calls me to ask what I'm up to.

My inspiration to write MAN OF CLAY.....

was a fascination with a short story; a sort of 'western' parable by the great author and folklorist, J. Frank Dobie. I wanted to try and weave it into a screenplay about a man's last shot of pulling something out the land that had been so good to him. For example, what if Willy Loman had indeed succeeded and Biff turned out to be a hard-ass? It became a sort of 'American dream' thing about finding your destiny within the land itself and how greed and irony can create a strong tale. 

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FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Guy Barresi: I was going nuts wanting to put words to some of life's wild situations and people. It was inspiring to see others succeed in doing just that. I felt I had a lot to draw on and so far have been able to base my work on situations and people that I've come to know or shared experiences with. It all came down to that leap of faith, that first step. Once I got going I was struck by the difficulty of it all and I quickly developed an even greater respect for all writers.

FilmMakers Magazine: What did you do to prepare yourself to write your first script?

Guy Barresi: I always lay out the whole work as an outline with scenes explained in one-line to build a structure and then quickly write the scenes that are most fully realized in my mind. The strong scenes help me eliminate or build-up any weaker ones.

FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script and how long did it take you to complete?

Guy Barresi: This is my first fully realized script, all my other work up to this one is in treatment form or outlined in one-line scene form.

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you have a set routine, place and time management for writing?

Guy Barresi:
With a wife and kids I write whenever time allows, mainly late at night or early in the morning…whenever it's quiet. However, if I have a burst of ideas or an interesting approach to dialog I'll jump on the computer or grab my pad and bang it out, no matter who's around or what is going on.

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests are important for aspiring screenwriters and why?

Guy Barresi: I believe screenplay contests are huge for people who aspire to create. If for no other reason they can help give you the 'ammo' to penetrate the studio structure.

FilmMakers Magazine: What influenced you to enter the FilmMakers.com / The Radmin Company Screenwriting Competition?

Guy Barresi: A close friend and colleague mentioned that your contest had a strong support system within the business and it could help get my work out there. It also was mentioned that you actually read everything you get.

FilmMakers Magazine: What script would you urge aspiring writers to read and why?

Guy Barresi: I would urge any aspiring writer to read "Treasure of Sierra Madre," just for story structure and wonderful irony. Bergman's book of his greatest works including "Wild Strawberries," which proves that strong character can control pace, even overcome it. I also have a weakness for the 'misfit,' i.e. "Five Easy Pieces" and "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning."

FilmMakers Magazine: Beside screenwriting what are you passionate about and why?

Guy Barresi:
I'm passionate about my family, cinematic matte paintings, the American cinema, my Plymouth Barracuda and muscle cars. I'm a history buff, haunt the library, and enjoy doing a job right the first time…that's my part-time construction worker sensibility coming through.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Guy Barresi:
Robert Towne is one of my heroes. He had that great run in the early '70's. I never get tired with any of his work and I can watch "The Last Detail" all day long! Character, character, character! I could name about a dozen screenwriters and directors that I idolize, Huston, Bolt, Lehman, Kubrick, Sayles, all the greats, the list goes on and on. 

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the director you would love to work with and why?

Guy Barresi:
I've been lucky to work for some of very best. Right now I'm crazy about Peter Jackson! Right now he's carving a niche that will be with us forever. It's like he was genetically engineered to make "The Ring" Trilogy. God Bless him!

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the actor you would love to work with and why?

Guy Barresi:
More than anyone I would like to work with Jack Nicholson. He's got it and he gets it.

FilmMakers Magazine: Any tips and things learned along the way to pass on to others?

Guy Barresi:
No idea is too trivial, ever! Try to have alternate ways of getting out of any scene as those who may get behind you will try to change your work. You've got to be able to accept alternate ideas and integrate them into your writing…I'm still coming up with other ideas to make MAN OF CLAY better. Write it down! Just don't think about it!

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Guy Barresi: Right now I'm working on two more screenplays, one is almost there, the other has been scene plotted is being filled out.

FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from now?

Guy Barresi:
Five years from now I'll still be chasing this dream, I always will, but maybe I won't have to run so hard!

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