2008 FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards - Interview - Colin Costello


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FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards

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Colin Costello

CATEGORY 3 - (Comedy)

Elite Prize Winner
Colin Costello
of Deer Park, IL

A profound geek and DC comics fan, Colin lives with his wife Sharla, his two beautiful, superhero-loving daughters Chloe and Max, and Old English Sheepdog, Krypto, in Deer Park, IL. As a boy in Philadelphia, Saturday afternoons were spent watching movies such as "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Star Wars," "Beverly Hills Cop," "The Towering Inferno," "Superman" and "Ghostbusters" over and over in theaters with his best friend, Brian. When his parents gave Colin a Super-8 camera, the two tried to remake The Poseidon Adventure. They actually did shoot the first scene. Then it was lunch time.

Colin has written 10 feature-length screenplays to date, including his winning comedy "Bridezilla vs. Deer," and two horror screenplays "Sleep Tight" and "Sentenced," both of which performed extremely well in the International Horror and Sci-Fi Fest and The Terror Film Festival as well as Scriptapalooza and Screamfest LA. He has also just finished co-writing a spec comedy called "Staycation" which received a "consider" from Paramount's story department. Most recently, Colin was named one of 10 winners in the Ford Mustang/Filmaka contest for short film "First Kiss."

After graduating from Penn State with a degree in advertising, Colin began his career in New York at a McCann Erickson and moved shortly thereafter to Chicago where he worked as an award-winning creative director for DDB Needham and Spike DDB (which he co-founded), FCB and Burrell. He dreams of the day when he doesn't have to juggle a day job and screenwriting.


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

When I saw "The Poseidon Adventure" with my dad, I knew I had to write movies. I just had to. When I was left home alone sick, I would act out the entire movie from memory. At one point, I even tried to remake it with my best friends. Guess who wrote the script!?! Damn right it was me.

I know I've succeeded........ 

When I am sitting with my wife and kids in a theater watching a movie that I wrote, but don't recognize a single word because everything was changed by the director, producer and studio!

My inspiration to write BRIDEZILLA VS DEER.......

Came from my wife. Thanks Sharla! She's always had knack for comedic gags. After we were married at a place in Connecticut called The Spinning Wheel Inn, she said, " Wouldn't it be funny if a deer ran through, knocked out the priest (I'm Catholic) and rabbi (she's Jewish) out, stepped on the glass and ran off into the woods with a ring on its antler?" She wondered if the deer would be legally married to her. No, she doesn't do drugs.




FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Colin Costello: Since I was five, putting on plays for neighborhood kids, I have always wanted to write. My mom, God rest her soul, took credit for my desire to write. My dad, God rest his soul, also took credit for it. I'll give props to both of them. They were both published academic authors. I will also credit my advertising career. I was fortunate to meet and work with great directors and writers such as Maya Angelou, Marcus Nispel, Spike Lee, Michael Bay, Ridley Scott, Paul Haggis, Tim Burton, Steve Beck, Pam Thomas, Jan DeBont and Lloyd Stein.

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

Colin Costello:
Wow, that was scary. I was so not prepared. I had been in advertising for about 10 years and had written some notable campaigns for Gatorade, Sunkist, Finish Line, Showtime and McDonald's. I also worked with Spike Lee for a year. But I never took a formal screenwriting course. My wife took the screenwriting courses. I don't recommend this route!

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

Colin Costello:
No. This was actually the third script I wrote. But it was my first comedy. I actually wrote the first draft about five or six years ago. And after I'd finish a new spec, I would come back to it. I guess I always wanted to make it the best it could be for my wife.

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

Colin Costello:
Yes. I'm a morning person. I like to get up and let out our Old English Sheepdog, Krypto. Check out what Robin Meade is wearing on "Headline News." Yep, I'm crushing heavily on her. And then I like to write from about 7 to 12. Sometimes at home. Sometimes at Caribou Coffee. Free Internet. I try to never write on the weekends. That's reserved for wifey and my daughters, Chloe and Max.

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

Colin Costello:
Yes, I do. I think contests are a way of getting some reactions to your script from an impartial party. Plus, if you do well, it can build your confidence. Hell, we're writers. We need all the confidence-building we can get. And of course if you don't live in LA, it's an awesome way to get producers and agents to notice your script and writing talents.

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

Colin Costello:
Two very good writer friends of mine -- Yvonne Borgogni and Anita Justice Skibski -- did very well in previous Filmmaker contests. I respect both of their writing styles, so I wanted to see how I would do.

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

Colin Costello:
Wow, there are so many. I just read "Brad Cutter Ruined My Life Again" by Joe Nussbaum. Really funny. Anything by Frank Darabont. Oh, I know -- I just read "Jonny Quest" by Dan Mazeau. If you're writing superhero, I would take a look at what David Goyer did for "Batman Begins" and what Christopher and Jonathan Nolan and David Goyer did for "The Dark Knight." And Alvin Sargent worked miracles for Spider- Man 2. Oh, and there's this other guy... um... Colin Costello. I really recommend reading anything by him!

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

Colin Costello:
Well, I'm born and raised in Philly. Although I live in Chicago, love for your Philly teams never dies. I love my Phillies, Eagles, Sixers and Flyers. I'm also crazy in love with my two daughters. They are the coolest girls on this planet we call "Earth." And I'm passionate of course about movies. I do like to go running with my wife.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Colin Costello:
For a long time it was Ernest Lehman. What he did for "Black Sunday" (along with Kenneth Ross and Ivan Moffit) helped make it my favorite all-time movie for decades... until "The Lord of The Rings" came out. Also check out his work on "West Side Story," "The Sound of Music" and "Family Plot." I always found his lines to be short -- nothing earth-shattering -- but with so much meaning.

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

Colin Costello:
I would love to work with Peter Jackson. I'm a huge fan of "Lord of The Rings" and "King Kong." To me, Peter Jackson has the imagination of a child. His take on the worlds he creates is filled with wonder and awe. I'd love to write a Superman script for him.

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

Colin Costello:
I have enormous respect for Bruce Willis. He always makes his characters -- even if they only appear for a scene or two -- memorable. And I'd also like to work with Anne Hathaway. She's hot.

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

Colin Costello:
Be flexible. Listen. The screenwriting process is a group process. It starts with you but ends with a cast of thousands. The more you are willing to play with others, the more they will be willing to play with you. In addition, form a network. Surround yourself with friends who are going through the same experiences as you. It's nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of. Join a screenwriting group. There's plenty of them around. Read lots of scripts. And watch lots of movies. If you're in LA, visit the WGA library. It's awesome.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Colin Costello:
I think I will develop a new comedy with my co-writer Anne MacIver.

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

Colin Costello:
Hopefully alive and healthy, still able to get by without Viagra and... oh what else? Be a working screenwriter. But I'm planning that for 2009.

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