I knew I wanted to be a screenwriter........
when viewing the beautifully written
drama Twelve O’Clock High.
I know I've succeeded........
when a reader of my work tells me
that they cried through the third act or cheered the hero that battled against
My inspiration to write BURNOVER.......
came from my love of the outdoors and
my admiration for people that risk their lives to preserve nature. Unlike
urban firemen, wildland firefighters rarely hear “thank you”, and that’s the
purpose of this story.
What inspired you to write?
M.D. McCarthy: In sixth grade I wrote a true story about a boy
at school that had bad teeth. When my father read it he said it was
the best story he’d ever read. The boy and I became friends and I’ve
been writing stories ever since.
FilmMakers Magazine: What did you do to prepare yourself to write your first script?
M.D. McCarthy: I purchased books on screenwriting and took an
online course. I read scripts written by famous screenwriters that
were available online, and memorized Tom Lazarus’ book, Secrets of
Film Writing. I also paid my own way to several screenwriting/pitch
sessions in California and attended as many conferences as I could for
the first two years.
FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script and how long did it take you to complete?
M.D. McCarthy: Burnover is my forty-fourth script. I’m a
voracious writer and average three to five stories a year, sometimes
more. I began Burnover in July of 2006 and finalized it in January
FilmMakers Magazine: Do you have a set routine, place and time management for writing?
M.D. McCarthy:Yes. In the morning I do an exercise routine that
includes cardio and weights. I begin writing around mid-morning.
“Writing” sometimes means working through ideas more than placing
words on a page. On average, I write at least ten pages a day.
FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests are important for aspiring
screenwriters and why?
Yes. Contests provide valuable
feedback as well as inspiration to try harder.
FilmMakers Magazine: What influenced you to enter the
FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards?
Script Magazine and HollywoodLitSales
comment on this contest from time to time. After entering it once, I
was hooked by the professionalism of the staff and by the feedback
provided through the announcement of results. It matters knowing at
what point your script falls short, if it does. It helps the learning
FilmMakers Magazine: What script would you urge aspiring writers to read and why?
To Kill A Mockingbird. While
dated in many regards, the story never takes the easy road. It
confronts tough issues and is never afraid to present unpleasant
outcomes. Equally important, it captures the purity and essence of
childhood in a way that should drive all writers of drama to know the
subject not only with intellect but also with the heart.
FilmMakers Magazine: Beside screenwriting what are you passionate about and why?
horses. While I do saddle break and finish young horses, behavior
modification is my specialty.
FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter
Tom Lazarus. His book, Secrets of
Film Writing, was of great benefit to me when I first began writing.
His ability to write succinctly with power inspires me.
FilmMakers Magazine: Name the director you would love to work with and why?
Ridley Scott. His work tells stories
in a way that takes characters beyond the action down to a place where
the viewer connects with their inner most needs, secrets, loves, and
fears, often in very few words.
Magazine: Name the actor you would love to work with and why?
Russell Crowe. His ability to
establish the power within a character while exposing the
vulnerability is unmatched in my opinion. With a simple glance or the
touch of his hand or a smirk on his face, he transforms a character
from imagination to reality in a way that every viewer knows exactly
what’s in the character’s heart.
FilmMakers Magazine: Any tips and things learned along the way to pass on to others?
Yes. People ask me how I come up with
so many stories. Subject matter surrounds us every day in everything
we do. It doesn’t matter if a story has been told before. What matters
is the voice you give it. It’s your voice, and there is no other like
FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?
My current screenplay project should
be completed by the end of the year. It’s another action drama.
FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from now?
Writing screenplays for producers
that like my stories and enjoy drama that touches the viewer long
after the movie ends.