2007 FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards - Interview - Jake Helgren

Filmmakers International Screenwriting Awards

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Jake Helgren
CATEGORY 3 - (Comedy)
Elite Prize Winner
Jake Helgren
of Austin, TX

Jake is a 25-year old from Elgin, Texas who has loved film since he was a boy, where he spent weekends out in the country staying up into the wee hours of the morning watching movies at his parents’ farmhouse. He has written ten feature-length screenplays to date, including this teen romp, a romantic comedy, and a handful of thinking man’s slasher flicks, one of which received recognition as the only horror movie among 30 quarterfinalists of the 2006 Phoenix Film Festival. Jake has two additional scripts that placed as semi-finalists at the 2006 Screenplay Festival, and wrote, directed and produced a short horror feature entitled “Severed Lives,” which received positive online reviews last year. He graduated from St. Edward’s University in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing, and is moving to Los Angeles in January to pursue screenwriting and work in the industry full-time.


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

I knew I wanted to be a screenwriter when I realized that I had no patience for novel writing, because everything I wrote unfolded like the plot of a movie.

I know I've succeeded........ 

I know I’ve succeeded either when a film I’ve written is actually bought and produced by someone other than me or, if I’m aiming really high, when I get to work with Kevin Williamson…whichever happens first!

My inspiration to write FRIVOLITY.......

My inspiration to write “Frivolity” was when my mom and I were joking around one night about what hilarious things might happen if a gay guy and a straight guy were to swap identities for a week.




FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Jake Helgren: I think the biggest part of the human condition is that we’re constantly trying to connect with others…writing helps me do that, especially if I can make them laugh or scream!

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

Jake Helgren: I took an informal night class at UT back in 2002 and then just got on my computer and went to it.

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

Jake Helgren: This was actually my eighth feature-length script, but I’d say it’s only my sixth good script...two of my first scripts were just terrible! It took about four months to write, which is a normal timeframe for me.

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

Jake Helgren:
No way…no time for anything like that. I write when I can, whenever I can…with a full-time job, Kris, Riley, my family, friends, a social life and school years prior, I’ve learned to write anywhere during anything…the airport, the pool, even while watching another movie…I believe a truly dedicated writer finds the time no matter how busy they are.

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

Jake Helgren: I think they are important for screenwriters, because friends and family can only be so objective in validating your talent…submitting to a contest where your script is in the hands of strangers is a true testament as to whether or not your script is any good…mind you, just because you don’t advance in any particular contest doesn’t mean your script isn’t great, but when you do advance it certainly does help to validate all your hard work! I can say having placed in contests has certainly helped my query letter look better, as in the past some independent producers only requested particular scripts of mine that placed in competitions. I’ve also heard placing in a contest can help you get an agent, too…but I can’t tell if you that’s true until I move to LA and start querying agents in January!

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

Jake Helgren: It’s number one on Google Search engine! And, of course, it has a good reputation in online screenwriting communities.

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

Jake Helgren: You Can Count on Me” by Kenneth Lonergan. It is an exceptional screenplay…it’s well-structured, you can’t beat the character development and conflicts, and plus it’s just a darn good movie.

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

Jake Helgren: I am passionate about the people I love…they are each a muse to my life and my writing, and collectively I don’t think I could’ve asked for a greater support system.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Jake Helgren: It has to be a toss-up between John Hughes and Kevin Williamson…they both have this amazing ability to connect to youth, which not only helped me through my tumultuous teen years, but was also an inspiration for me to want to do the same with my work.

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

Jake Helgren:
Wes Craven…because I think he’s the most wickedly talented horror director of all time.

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

Jake Helgren:
Drew Barrymore…I have followed her work since she spouted, “Alligators in the sewer…” on E.T., and I haven’t stopped loving her work.

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

Jake Helgren: Don’t wait. You have a choice every day when you wake up to pursue your passion today.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Jake Helgren: I just optioned my first screenplay, a teen horror script with the working title of "The Mascot," with producer Camron Carrier and director Zac Adams of C. Wesley Pictures, and I am absolutely thrilled to be working with
such talented filmmakers. The screenplay is a gory rollercoaster ride with really fun characters and an old school edge. Be on the lookout for a teaser trailer for the film coming soon!

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

Jake Helgren:
Hopefully making enough money to write screenplays full-time.

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