2006 FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards - Interview - Cargill H. Alleyne, Jr.

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Cargill H. Alleyne, Jr.
13th Place Winner
Cargill H. Alleyne, Jr.
of Martinez, GA
Screenplay
HANDS OF GOLD, FEET OF CLAY - THE HARVEY CUSHING STORY
BioDrama/Historical/Science
Biography:

Cargill H. Alleyne, Jr., M.D. is a practicing neurosurgeon who was born in Guyana, South America to an economist and a school teacher. He attended college at George Washington University and medical school at Yale. His neurosurgery training was completed at Emory and he completed a fellowship at the Barrow Neurological Institute. After practicing at the University of Rochester for four and a half year, he was recruited to the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. He currently serves as Academic Vice-Chairman and Residency Program director and is in charge of training young residents to become neurosurgeons. He spends his spare time with his lovely wife (also a physician) and two delightful children. Among his many interests he enjoys going to the movies and writing.

Interview

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

After reading the biography of Harvey Cushing. Itís an epic tale of discovery, dedication bordering on obsession, and a duel with death, all against the backdrop of the early 20th century.


I know I've succeeded........ 

If the movie (!) imparts some level of understanding of the history of neurosurgery, the sacrifices, triumphant successes, and disappointing failures that we face, and of the courage and dignity that our patients often show when faced with terminal diseases; or if the movie (!) convinces even one young man or woman to pursue neurosurgery as a career.
 

My inspiration to write HANDS OF GOLD, FEET OF CLAY - THE HARVEY CUSHING STORY.......

Arose after reading the biography of Harvey Cushing while still a resident in training. It was fascinating. Here was a young physician with his fair share of human foibles, who against tremendous odds doggedly pursued the perfection of the new field of brain surgery. To paraphrase George Lucas, the best stories told are those about one manís struggle against insurmountable odds to achieve a noble goal.

 

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FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Cargill H. Alleyne, Jr.: I admire the ability of great writers to take the written word and weave a complete tapestry in the mindís eye of the reader, or to evoke a complex web of emotions. I also think the adage ďWrite what you knowĒ makes perfect sense. It is interesting that Harvey Cushing, the prototypic neurosurgeon, is estimated to have written 50,000 words a day throughout his lifetime and even won a Pulitzer Prize.

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

Cargill H. Alleyne, Jr.: I first secured the rights to the biography of Harvey Cushing from Yale University. I then researched the subject matter extensively, reading every book, manuscript and article I could find about him. The next phase was learning the craft of screenwriting. I read multiple books on the subject including those by Linda Seger, David Trottier, Richard Krevolin, Michael Hauge and Syd Field, among others. When I thought I had an acceptable draft, I had it reviewed by three independent screenplay analysts and worked on it some more.

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

Cargill H. Alleyne, Jr.: Yes, this is my first script. Since itís based on true events it took a while to research the protagonistís life and times in detail. Learning the craft also took time (Iím constantly learning). It took about a year to complete (especially with my other responsibilities).

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

Cargill H. Alleyne, Jr.:
Not really, but as a busy practicing neurosurgeon with a family, I frequently found that the best time for me was after 10 pm.

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

Cargill H. Alleyne, Jr.: I believe they can be helpful in building confidence and in gaining a foothold in a business that is notoriously difficult to crack.

FilmMakers Magazine: What influenced you to enter the FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards?

Cargill H. Alleyne, Jr.: Itís a reputable contest and the genre (historical biopic) did not disqualify the script.

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

Cargill H. Alleyne, Jr.: As many of the classic and/or Oscar winning scripts as possible; from Casablanca to Amadeus to Memento. They all give us something to aspire to.

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

Cargill H. Alleyne, Jr.: Iím passionate about my family and neurosurgery. The former because its members are the most important people in my life and the latter because I am fortunate enough to have the most gratifying and stimulating job in the world.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Cargill H. Alleyne, Jr.:
Chris Nolan for his innovation (Memento), M. Night Shyamalan for his twists, David Mamet for his longevity, but there are many others.

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

Cargill H. Alleyne, Jr.:
Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, George Lucas. They are masters of their game.

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

Cargill H. Alleyne, Jr.: Edward Norton, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Jodie Foster, Christian Bale are just a few that come to mind. They are terrific actors.

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

Cargill H. Alleyne, Jr.: Keep trying to improve your skills and get advice from others. Their opinions may be discrepant and then youíll have to go with your gut. If there are concordant then they are probably right.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Cargill H. Alleyne, Jr.: Iíll continue to try to find a filmmaker who will be as passionate about this project as I am.

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

Cargill H. Alleyne, Jr.:
Hopefully sitting in a darkened theatre with my wife watching the premier of Hands of Gold, Feet of Clay Ė The Harvey Cushing story!

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