FilmMakers.com / The Radmin Company 2004 Screenwriting Competition

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Lorelei Armstrong
First Place
 
Winner
Lorelei Armstrong
of Los Angeles, C
A
Screenplay
GHOSTCATCHER
Supernatural Thriller
Biography:

Lorelei Armstrong received her MFA in screenwriting from UCLA. She is a full-time writer, with homes in Brentwood, California, and Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii. 

Lorelei attends two weekly writer's groups and the annual Santa Barbara Writer's Conference. She is a member of the Independent Writers Caucus of the WGAw. While at UCLA, she studied writing with Lew Hunter, Richard Walter, Dan Pyne, Larry Riggins, Linda Voorhees, Dee Caruso, and Hal Ackerman. She also took every class available in the UCLA MFA Independent Producer's Program. 

In addition to the FilmMakers.com/The Radmin Company Screenwriting Competition, Lorelei has won the Acclaim Film and Television Competition, the A Penny Short Contest, the Scr(i)pt Magazine Open Door Contest, and the family division of the Fade In Awards. She has been a finalist at Austin and CineStory.

Interview

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

I came to screenwriting from writing fiction. I read books about screenwriting long before I ever thought to write a script because I admired the rigor of screenwriting. The screenwriter canít hide behind an avalanche of elegant verbiage, as the novelist can (and too often does). Screenplays are pure story. 

I know I've succeeded........ 

I will know Iíve succeeded when Iíve paid off graduate school. 

My inspiration to write GHOSTCATCHER.......

When I was a kid, I got to sneak in to some terrific scary movies--and loved them. I wanted to write a scary movie for the youth market that wasnít a gross-out and wasnít tongue-in-cheek. A movie even parents would enjoy. I wanted a smart ghost story.

 

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FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Lorelei Armstrong: Sitting in a movie theater as a very young child and hearing the audience boo and hiss at a man on the screen who had done nothing more than to walk through a door wearing a black hat. I was amazed that two hundred total strangers in the middle of Los Angeles all understood that one basic, visual piece of storytelling.

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

Lorelei Armstrong: I wrote an outline, bought some software, and poured myself a refreshing beverage. 

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

Lorelei Armstrong: This is the fourteenth of my seventeen scripts. I wrote it in my last 434 of the MFA program in screenwriting at UCLA. I wrote it in six weeks, which is about average for me. 

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

Lorelei Armstrong:
I did my last rewrite while sitting in the passenger seat of my car, with my portable on my lap, 4,000 feet up Mt. Waialeale on Kauai, waiting for two friends to return from a hike. Iíve written on planes, on the beach, and in the bath. I even came up with a joke for one script while asleep. Best joke in the script.

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

Lorelei Armstrong: There are so few open doors for beginning writers, and so few ways to learn how your work compares to that of other writers. Winning gives you encouragement, contacts, a first sentence for your query letter, and even money (depending on the contest). Iíve won five contests thus far, so Iím obviously a believer. 

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

Lorelei Armstrong: There arenít many contests run by people who actually know what it takes to write a script someone might want to produce. FilmMakers and The Radmin Company are both grounded in the realities of filmmaking. 

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

Lorelei Armstrong: Read all of them. Iím not kidding. Too many aspiring writers have only read a few scripts, and most only to get a feeling for the format required. Read as many as you can find, and not for the format. You have software for that. Read to understand how much can be accomplished with a few powerful, well-chosen words. Read to understand how much the director, actors, producers, crew, etc., bring to the process. Read to understand just how hard it is to write a good script. 

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

Lorelei Armstrong: ďPassionateĒ is a big word for a Scandinavian. 

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Lorelei Armstrong: Donald Kaufman, for earning an Oscar nomination without corporeal existence. 

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

Lorelei Armstrong:
One that wouldnít beat on me with my own rolled-up screenplay, because that stings something awful. 

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

Lorelei Armstrong: Too many of my choices would be colored by my desire to have particular actors in my scripts. As that would mean absolutely nothing to anyone else, let me just name Dame Judy Dench and Sir Ian McKellen as two actors I have long admired, whether or not they would ever touch my screenplays with a bargepole. 

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

Lorelei Armstrong:
Know what makes a movie and what doesnít. Your story idea might be better expressed as a short story, novel, or play. Screenwriting has become the Great American Novel (you heard it here last), and too many writers are trying to force inappropriate material into screenplay format. 

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Lorelei Armstrong: I am outlining my eighteenth script. 

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

Lorelei Armstrong:
At the current pace, I will be outlining my thirty-sixth script. 

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