2007 FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards - Interview - M.D. McCarthy

Filmmakers International Screenwriting Awards

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M.D. McCarthy
20th Place Winner
M.D. McCarthy
of Livingston, TX

I taught school in Australia and on Christmas Island before joining a major computer company where I worked for sixteen years within software development. During my career I frequently developed corporate guidelines that were integrated into company procedures, for which I received many awards. Upon early retirement I worked as a consultant with top tier companies for five years, then left the industry to pursue my passions, writing and training horses.

Having also written for professional journals, I studied screenwriting and wrote my first script in 2002. The next year I was signed with Hart Literary Management. To date, I’m a member of ASA, have completed forty-eight scripts and have placed in several contests. Writing drama that evokes feeling provides great satisfaction for me and hopefully it also entertains.


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 the tide.


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.




FilmMakers Magazine: 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 2007.

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?

M.D. McCarthy:
Yes. Contests provide valuable feedback as well as inspiration to try harder.

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

M.D. McCarthy:
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 process.

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

M.D. McCarthy:
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?

M.D. McCarthy:
Training horses. While I do saddle break and finish young horses, behavior modification is my specialty.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

M.D. McCarthy:
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?

M.D. McCarthy:
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.

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

M.D. McCarthy:
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?

M.D. McCarthy:
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 it.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

M.D. McCarthy:
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?

M.D. McCarthy:
Writing screenplays for producers that like my stories and enjoy drama that touches the viewer long after the movie ends.

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