American Gem 2003 Short Screenplay Competition - BEWARE THE AMISH
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Bruce W. Kahn

Third Place Winner

Bruce W. Kahn
Biography: Bruce Kahn wrote his first short story in the third grade and he's been a writer ever since. He was awarded the Dean's Prize in Creative Writing in Drama as an undergraduate at the University of Rochester, honorable mention in the Forbes Heerman One-Act Play Competition as a graduate student at Cornell University, and his play "The Grossman Incident" was staged by the Ironbound Theater in Newark, N.J. 

Bruce has written speeches and advertising and public relations copy for businesses, educational institutions and the U.S. government. While in law school, he was managing editor of the law review and author of two published scholarly legal articles. In addition to being a practicing attorney, Bruce is the author of a number of full length and short screenplays including the recently completed action-adventure "Horten XVIII" and "The Baltimore: Confessions of a Doorman" a proposed television series, co-written with Cindy Grey.


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

I knew I wanted to be a screenwriter when I started writing my first screenplay. It just felt right. Writing movies is more fun and more challenging and more rewarding than any other type of writing I've done.

I know I've succeeded....

I'll know I've succeeded when my screenplays are being made into films.

My inspiration to write BEWARE THE AMISH .......

I used to have a friend who came from a town in upstate New York that had an Amish population. He told me that there were often tensions between the Amish and the secular people in his town. Apparently, the Amish were from a sect that could use modern conveniences but only in other people's houses. So the Amish would sometimes be nice to their secular neighbors but only so they could infiltrate their homes to use the telephone or watch television or drink beer. Once they got in, my friend told me, it was very hard to get them to leave. I thought the entire idea of having your house infested by Amish was pretty funny so I wrote a screenplay about it.




FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Bruce W. Kahn: I like the challenge of expressing ideas in words. I like the challenge of assembling words into stories. I like being able to hold a document in my hands and being able to say: "I made this."

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

Bruce W. Kahn: I did nothing in particular. One day I just sat down and started to write.

FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script and how long did it take you to write BEWARE THE AMISH?

Bruce W. Kahn: “Beware the Amish” isn’t my first script.  I’ve written a bunch of other stuff including, recently, an action-adventure feature set during World War II called “Horten XVIII” and “The Baltimore: Confessions of a Doorman,” a pilot and proposal for an original television series about a doorman working in an affluent high-rise apartment building in New York City.

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

Bruce W. Kahn: Sure. It's very important for aspiring screenwriters to have opportunities to show their work and gain recognition. Contests are a great venue for that.

FilmMakers Magazine:
What influenced you to enter the American Gem Short Script Competition?

Bruce W. Kahn: Well, I had a short script and you had a short script competition. I also liked the fact that you offered the opportunity for my work to be seen by some of the right people. 

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

Bruce W. Kahn: I'm also an avid photographer. I like photography because every now and then if you're lucky you can capture something wonderful on film.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Bruce W. Kahn: For me it depends on what I've seen lately. This week it's Preston Sturges because I just watched "The Lady Eve." Incredible dialogue, beautiful moments all over the place, wrapped in a deceptively simple story made wonderfully complex by the depth of all the characters. The film just blew me away. "The Lady Eve" illustrates that good writing is about more than words. It's about the things that come from the writing but transcend the words. If, like Sturges, you can make an audience laugh or cry, or feel delighted or thrilled then I'm in awe of you.

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

Bruce W. Kahn: One who has the talent and vision and passion to make my words come to life. If you're asking what directors I admire, well that's a very, very long list, including (in no particular order) David Lean, John Ford, Preston Sturges, Ridley Scott, Fred Fellini, Michael Mann, the Coen Brothers, Steven Spielberg, and Akira Kurasawa to name a very few.

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

Bruce W. Kahn:
I think that would depend on the nature of the story, so see my answer to the question about directors. Again there's a long list of actors I admire, although I do have a particular fondness for the late Walter Matthau, who was the sort of actor who could play anything from comedy to tragedy with equal finesse, and for Jackie Chan, who can defy gravity.

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

Bruce W. Kahn: Keep writing.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Bruce W. Kahn: More writing. I've got a bunch of projects to get cracking on.

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

Bruce W. Kahn:
Still writing, with more good scripts under my belt, and a feature produced.

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