I knew I wanted to be a screenwriter........
when a story began to construct
itself visually for me. Up until that time I had been writing a novel. The
story of an adolescent girl thrown out of her tenement and having to catch on
fast moving freights to find an aunt she never met during the Depression was
cinematic. I saw pictures in my mind, then the words to describe. I heard the
conversations, then I could write them.
I know I've succeeded........
I don't know when I will feel as if I
have succeeded because the definition of success continues to change as I
change. When I feel at peace with my goals is the closest I can come up with.
My inspiration to write NO RUNNING.......
was the continual playing out of the
polarizing debate on immigration in the media with little recognition that the
theories and laws people were discussing would affect many peoples' lives. The
humanity of it was, and is missing. I wanted to show the humanness of the
people on both sides of the issues. I tried to portray both sides equally
without a verdict, that left to the audience.
What inspired you to write?
Sullivan Savage-Elizabeth: Great books have inspired me to
think, feel, and write. Books for me were a contradiction. In one way
they gave me a way to hide, escape into another time or place, and at
the same time the ideas I gleaned helped me gain a public point of
view and voice.
FilmMakers Magazine: What did you do to prepare yourself to write your first script?
I think the preparation that laid the
foundation for writing my first script is my passion for movies. My
whole family shared that passion. My father would take us to theatres
in LA that would run silent films. I watched Chaplin on the big screen
when I was 8 years old. We read about films. After each movie we would
get ice cream and have a huge discussion. Children were equal
participants. I wrote stories, poems, did very well in English. Taught
English. Finally got the nerve, bought the software and a book.
FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script and how long did it take you to complete?
Sullivan Savage-Elizabeth: This is my fourth completed script.
From the first glimmer of the idea, the people living in my head, NO
RUNNING took 8 months.
FilmMakers Magazine: Do you have a set routine, place and time management for writing?
The only routine I have is to write in longhand on legal pads, and
talk the ideas out loud to myself or others.
FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests are important for aspiring
screenwriters and why?
Sullivan Savage-Elizabeth: I believe screenwriting contests are
very important to get crucial feedback and exposure.
FilmMakers Magazine: What influenced you to enter the
FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards?
Sullivan Savage-Elizabeth: Filmmakers International strong
commitment to help writers get their work out and into the hands of
people who have the ability to make things go from script to screen is
what influenced me to submit.
FilmMakers Magazine: What script would you urge aspiring writers to read and why?
Sullivan Savage-Elizabeth: I had never read a script before I
wrote one. If I could do it all over again. I would make sure I read a
FilmMakers Magazine: Beside screenwriting what are you passionate about and why?
Sullivan Savage-Elizabeth: I am passionate about the
environment, social justice, family, reading, movies.
FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter
Sullivan Savage-Elizabeth: Too hard favorite screenwriter, one
of my favorites is Billy Wilder.
FilmMakers Magazine: Name the director you would love to work with and why?
Sean Penn. THE PLEDGE, INDIAN RUNNER,
THE CROSSING GUARD, are amazing character studies.
Magazine: Name the actor you would love to work with and why?
Sullivan Savage-Elizabeth: Robin Wright Penn is a fine actor.
Her performances are layered, nuanced, empathetic. Benicio Del Toro is
amazing, unpredictable, powerful, and empathetic.
FilmMakers Magazine: Any tips and things learned along the way to pass on to others?
My tip is to keep trying when you are done with trying. Sometimes it
is difficult to continue with all the competition, the odds of getting
your work noticed.
FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?
What's next is for me to keep trying and to believe in the kind of
stories I write.
FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from now?
In five years I will be writing, on a new computer, I hope.