FilmMakers.com / The Radmin Company 2004 Screenwriting Competition

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LeeAnna Neumeyer
Fourth Place
 
Winner
LeeAnna Neumeyer
of Los Angeles,
CA
Screenplay
BACKPACK
Drama
Biography:

A native of Long Island, New York, LeeAnna first knew she wanted to be a 
screenwriter at the age of fourteen when she saw Billy Wilder's film, "The 
Apartment," and soon began reading and studying every book she could find on the subject. 

She enrolled in Indiana State University's film program where she directed 
her first student film entitled, "A Place Of Worship," about James Dean's 
hometown which starred actor, Martin Sheen. Soon after, she transferred back to New York and completed her BA in English/Creative Writing from the State 
University of New York/College at New Paltz. She moved to San Francisco after graduation where she worked in feature films as production assistant to such talents as Clint Eastwood, Sean Connery, Whoopi Goldberg and Francis Ford Coppola.

While working in film production, she decided it was time to focus on writing 
her own screenplays. Her first script "Out Of The Past" caught the attention of actor Jack Lemmon, who encouraged her to pursue her talent as a writer. 

LeeAnna moved to Los Angeles to be a screenwriter, and quickly landed a job as an assistant at a top talent agency to learn more about the business side of Hollywood. Writing mostly romantic comedies, she entered her first drama, "Backpack" in the FilmMakers.com/Radmin Company's 4th annual screenwriting competition that awarded her fourth place finalist. LeeAnna is currently working on a new screenplay, and is represented by entertainment attorney Joan Vento-Hall.

Interview

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

After I saw the movie "The Apartment" when I was 14 years old. I saw it on television and said to myself, "I want to write something like that when I grow up." That same night, I wrote a fan letter to it's director, Billy Wilder, which he answered several weeks later. I saw that as a "sign." 

I know I've succeeded........ 

Because I never gave up, and have been told on many occasions by friends and 
family how much they wish they had the same kind of passion for something in 
their lives that I have for screenwriting.

My inspiration to write BACKPACK.......

Came from my dearest friend and mentor, Norman Orenstein. He was my high 
school English teacher. For his birthday last year I wanted to give him something special as a gift, so I wrote "Backpack" which is based loosely on my real life relationship with him. 

Norman was not only the very first person to tell me I had talent as a writer, but helped me during my troubled youth. I wanted to express how much he means to me, and how much he inspires me to write from my heart. I thought writing him a screenplay would be the perfect way to do that.

 

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FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

LeeAnna Neumeyer: Again, my friend, Norman Orenstein, and the late actor, Jack Lemmon. On a whim I sent Jack my very first screenplay, and he asked me to meet with the president of his production company, Connie McCauley. I did, and they both told me I had talent and should pursue a career as a screenwriter.

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

LeeAnna Neumeyer: I never took a screenwriting class, so I'm self-taught. But I did read every screenwriting book I could get my hands on to learn structure, and watched and studied a lot of movies. 

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

LeeAnna Neumeyer: No. This is not my first script. And to be perfectly honest, it took me less than two weeks to write it. 

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

LeeAnna Neumeyer:
I don't have a set routine, no. As for a place, I usually write with a notepad and pen while at home lying on my bed. In regard to time management, I write when I start to hear the voices of my characters talking in my head and don't stop until I have a first draft. 

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

LeeAnna Neumeyer: Yes, I do. It's a great way to get your material read by industry professionals and get noticed. It's also a nice boost to the creative spirit when you become a finalist.

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

LeeAnna Neumeyer: My good friend Ryan Darst, also a screenwriter, got me into it. Plus, the Radmin Company is one of the most prestigious management companies in the business.

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

LeeAnna Neumeyer: There are two I would highly recommend. "His Girl Friday" by Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer and "Moonstruck" by John Patrick Shanley. I would also encourage any aspiring writer to buy or rent these films and simply "listen" to them.

These are two movies in which one can actually "hear" the screenplay, and I think anyone wanting to be a screenwriter should have this experience to help them understand the importance of dialogue and how vital it is in defining characters.  

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

LeeAnna Neumeyer: I am very passionate about music because it stimulates my creativity. I prefer music by Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, and am a big collector of music from that era.

I am also passionate about helping others find their self-expression. I think too often people are discouraged not to follow their dreams, or cannot muster enough confidence to even try, so I enjoy helping others in discovering what it is they love to do and encouraging them to go for it. I guess you can say I'm a believer in the human spirit and love to see people succeed.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

LeeAnna Neumeyer: My favorite screenwriter today is Jay Cocks because anyone that can write two completely different genres as "Gangs of New York" and "De-Lovely," and with such superb style, is just brilliant to me.

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

LeeAnna Neumeyer: That would have to be Mike Nichols. I was fortunate to spend an entire day and evening on the set of his film, "Primary Colors" and watched him not only work masterfully with his cast and crew, but was most impressed by his close collaboration with screenwriter, Elaine May. 

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

LeeAnna Neumeyer: Kevin Kline. He gives a great performance in everything I've ever seen him in. I strive to bring that same quality to my work.

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

LeeAnna Neumeyer: Read as many scripts you can get your hands on. Hang out and talk with other writers if only to save yourself from wondering if what you're doing is crazy. Don't take anything personally in this business, and keep a healthy sense of humor.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

LeeAnna Neumeyer: Another screenplay. And another. And another, until one is bought and made into a film. Then the real work begins.

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

LeeAnna Neumeyer: Healthy, happy, writing produced screenplays and enjoying every minute of it.

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