I knew I wanted to be a screenwriter........
When I fell in love with moving images after
moving to California following graduation from university. Those special
moments alone in a dark cinema.
I know I've succeeded........
C'mon, I'm a writer filled with self-doubt
and all kinds of neuroses. I doubt that I'll ever feel like I've succeeded.
Maybe when I reach a comfort level with referring to myself as a "writer."
My inspiration to write ABILENE.......
Two things: (1) Attempting to dispel the myth
that romantic comedies are hard to write. And they must be. Because my attempt
at a rom-com ended up being a drama and nothing resembling a romantic comedy.
(2) Pondering what it might be like to lose something very dear to oneself and
how to overcome it, especially if you feel like you were responsible for it.
What inspired you to write?
Michael Raymond: Something hard-wired inside of me. I've been
doing it in one form or another ever since I was 10 years old.
FilmMakers Magazine: What did you do to prepare yourself to write your first script?
Michael Raymond: I read some screenwriting books and then the
biggie I took the plunge and bought a cheap computer.
FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script and how long did it take you to complete?
Michael Raymond: It's not my first probably #14. All up,
about 4-6 months.
FilmMakers Magazine: Do you have a set routine, place and time management for writing?
For this one, I developed a new approach. I have a 9-to-5 job and
found the post-midnight routine not to my liking so I tried doing an
early morning pre-work routine in a local café down the street from my
work. However, I didn't like the music in the place of overhearing
conversations, so I killed my eardrums by writing with my iPod blaring
inside my head.
FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests are important for aspiring
screenwriters and why?
Michael Raymond: For me, they have been. I don't live in LA and
cold calls from afar have very poor results. But get a great placement
in a reputable screenwriting contest and it's funny how those phone
calls end up being incoming calls rather than outgoing. But I wouldn't
enter a contest for the money. Only the exposure.
What influenced you to enter the FilmMakers International
Michael Raymond: I had a notion that it might generate some
exposure if things went well for me.
FilmMakers Magazine: What script would you urge aspiring writers to read and why?
Michael Raymond: I don't read enough scripts by other people,
but at the risk of offering up the old standard, I guess Chinatown had
an early influence on me.
FilmMakers Magazine: Beside screenwriting what are you passionate about and why?
Michael Raymond: Music and travel.
FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter
Michael Raymond: I like a couple of guys who seem to know how
to create "moments" and characters and situations that don't feel
contrived or dumped down. I'm thinking specifically of David Webb
Peoples, Paul Attanasio, Steven Kloves, or John Sayles. Certainly
Charlie Kaufman seems to be in a class all by himself.
FilmMakers Magazine: Name the director you would love to work with and why?
Lasse Halstrom or Peter Weir. I tend
to get overly sentimental sometimes and those two directors seem to
find ways to create poignant pieces of filmmaking without being overly
maudlin about it.
Magazine: Name the actor you would love to work with and why?
Michael Raymond: Mary Louis Parker because I'm secretly in love
with her. Naomi Watts because I think she's one of the most underrated
actors, if that's possible. Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under) because I
think she'd be perfect for Abilene. And Sean Penn because he'd ensure
that there would never be a false moment in anything I've written.
FilmMakers Magazine: Any tips and things learned along the way to pass on to others?
Michael Raymond: If you're doing it for the money, stop now.
Otherwise, just keep doing it until you somehow discover it's not fun
anymore or you don't feel like it's your life's calling.
FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?
Michael Raymond: An ensemble piece that might borrow a bit from
the movie "Diner."
FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from now?
Michael Raymond: Hopefully, a working screenwriter (whatever
that is) who finds a way to keep improving and learning the craft
certainly never feeling as though they've "made it." If I ever think
that, I think I'll be in big trouble.