2006 FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards - Interview - Maggie Franks


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Maggie Franks
Ninth Place Winner
Maggie Franks
San Clemente, CA

When Maggie Franks was a kid, she used the family piano bench as a desk for her pretend office. She used to load it up with pens, papers and erasers. She wrote day and night, yet never learned to play the piano. She couldn’t wait to have her own office someday. On Sundays, the piano bench became an altar. she dispensed Necco Wafers for communion. Only the white ones.

Maggie knew she wasn’t nun material; she was destined to be a business woman. She wrote to distant relatives, politicians. She wrote award winning essays in grammar school. High school accolades reinforced her writing goal: acquire strong communication skills for the business world. Besides, her dear old dad, a seasoned veteran for LA County’s D.A. office, would remind her to “go into Civil Service. You can’t make a living in writing.”

Her four-year college plan included a four year work plan. Each year she embarked in a new line of work to determine which field of business may be right for her. A stint at Yamaha’s Marketing Department made her eligible for employee discounts on motorcycles, and piano benches. At a power plant, she got a first hand look at bureaucracy. But power took on a new meaning when she was a camp counselor for kids of the rich and famous; and a nurse’s aide at an elite private mental hospital that dispensed shock treatments to high profile personalities. By now, she could write a business plan with her eyes closed. That’s when she landed a job at an ad agency. The Art Director insisted she try her hand at copywriting. Radio, print and TV ads resulted in award winning campaigns. However, her Clio would have to wait as marriage, kids, and a family business venture took hold. Before long, she owned her own office. But she continued to write on a small scale, doing freelance jobs here and there. Then a funny thing happened on the way to the office one morning. Maggie came to a realization she wasn’t living unless she was writing.


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

when I picked up a shooting script. I was curious as to how actors could translate such a foreign language.

I know I've succeeded........ 

when Steven Spielberg has me on speed dial.

My inspiration to write CHICLE' CHICLE'.......

Mother Nature rears her ugly head when we least suspect it. How we deal with it, defines us.




FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Maggie Franks: I wrote my first letter to a congressman when I was 7. He sent me back a handwritten letter on Congressional Stationery. I discovered the power of the pen and I’ve been writing ever since. Meantime, he went on to become the President of the United States.

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

Maggie Franks: I enrolled in the screenwriting program at UCLA, read scripts, watched films and ate gobs of movie popcorn.

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

Maggie Franks: No, I’ve written several scripts. This script took me about six months for the first draft, then a couple of rewrites.

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

Maggie Franks:
I love to write in the early morning and late at night. Each week I have a writing goal whether it’s an outline, beat sheet, a set number of pages. Depends on the phase of the project.

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

Maggie Franks: Yes, absolutely. Contests are exposure that you may not get anywhere else. The caliber of writers entering contests now is amazing. There are many working professionals among us. Any writer who underestimates contests has not done their homework.

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

Maggie Franks: It has a strong reputation and strong access. In addition, they set deadlines and sticks to them which shows a great deal of respect for the writers and credibility to the contest.

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

Maggie Franks: Witness. Many professionals have referred to it as the ‘perfect’ script. And it is such a great movie.

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

Maggie Franks: Children and animals. “…for in this world, they have no choice.”

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Maggie Franks: Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott. They know how to write for studio execs and the masses. They are very generous with their information; success hasn’t gone to their heads. And they are truly funny human beings.

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

Maggie Franks: Ron Howard. Because he gets it.

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

Maggie Franks: Tom Hanks. Because he gets it.

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

Maggie Franks: Don’t take a ride on the bitter bus. Keep a sense of humor because you’re going to need it. Volunteer, join writing groups, attend conferences, enter contests. Doors open when you least expect it. And…hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Maggie Franks: Buttered popcorn.

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

Maggie Franks: Doing a rewrite with George Clooney. My, she does have an imagination.

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