I knew I wanted to be a screenwriter
I completed my first script. I had always written in a journal or written poetry, but never in a structured way that required such a long-term commitment. After the first script was finished, I was definitely hooked. I love developing these temporary relationships with characters - enough that I have a few recurring in other scripts. It's also cathartic (and cheaper than therapy). As I've gotten older, and family members have passed away, I've developed an intense fear of being forgotten. And I guess writing is my immortality. Someday when I have children, and they have children, and I'm eventually gone, they'll always be able to read my words and understand the person I am now.
I know I've succeeded....
I'm watching the DVD of the film that I wrote the screenplay for, and during the actor's commentary Paul Newman says, "this Sean Corrigan kid is a helluva good writer."
My inspiration to write AMONG THIEVES.......
I've always loved grifter type films, about people that work outside the law, or even play within the confines of the law and beat the system. I'm somewhat of a recluse (I think most writers are) and I like the concept of somebody on their own searching for meaning. And often times what we are searching for is not what we want or need - blessings in disguise. In Among Thieves, Terrance is ostensibly searching for the money - but really in my mind, the thing that he lost that had any value was Kindyle.
What inspired you to write?
Sean Corrigan: I was at a stage in my life right after I finished college that I felt completely lost. I had quit one job, got fired from another, and had no sense of direction. In the back of my mind I had always wanted to act and write, but it seemed so far-fetched (and I had no training). It was something that happened to other people - kind of like winning the lottery. I finally had nothing left to lose, so in November 1996 I bought my first computer and began writing my first script. And the words just poured out of me. Now I have to write to keep from going stir crazy.
FilmMakers Magazine: How did you prepare yourself to
write your first script?
Sean Corrigan: Besides years of childhood abuse? I just sat down and went with it, which is how I still write today. I don't do outlines or treatments, I just write. Then I keep refining it. The funny thing is that I didn't have screenwriting software then and I hadn't read a book on screenwriting so it was a mess. I thought that I would be creative and have every character in a different color (really!). It took something like five hours to print one script in color. I also had not acted yet, and now after years of acting I realize how heavy the dialogue was. I could never memorize all of those long-winded pontifications. Less is more.
FilmMakers Magazine: Is
this your first script and how long did it take you to write AMONG THIEVES?
Sean Corrigan: I've written thirteen feature screenplays, a few plays, three teleplays, and lots of prose and poetry. I think I wrote Among Thieves in two weeks. The shorts (including teleplays) are much easier to write than features because they can be a simple concept - sometimes you feel like sections of a feature are just filler, belaboring the reader with backstory. I find shorts or teleplays to be the most fun to write because you're always in the middle of the action - just jump right in then back out - there's no time to sit idle.
FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests
are important for aspiring screenwriters and why?
Sean Corrigan: I think that they are the only avenue to get recognized unless you have a friend or family member in the film industry. I have sent dozens of letters to writing agents in Los Angeles and have never received a phone call. But I've received many calls from agents as a result of a high placing in a contest. (Now, if someone would finally sign me…)
FilmMakers Magazine: What
influenced you to enter the
American Gem Short Script Competition?
Sean Corrigan: There are very few competitions that have a short script division, and I had never entered this script in any competition before. Obviously, the fact that Fox was going to read the top twenty-five was good motivation.
Beside screenwriting what are you
passionate about and why?
Sean Corrigan: I run a professional development organization for chamber executives. Without boring the shit out of you, I help chamber executives operate their chambers of commerce more efficiently - chambers develop community programs, create jobs in their cities, or improve the quality of education in their communities.
FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter
Sean Corrigan: There's about eight screenwriters that I really love. I guess if I had to pick one it would be Scott Frank
(Out of Sight, Get Shorty) - screw it, I'm picking two: David Mamet. They have a wonderful sense of irony and wryness about their writing. And their dialogue is so succinct. Tight but poignant dialogue. And they tend to write the twisting plots that I enjoy.
the director you would love to work with and why?
Sean Corrigan: There's so many. Carl Franklin and Steven Soderbergh jump to mind. Both are writers so they understand the value of the written word and how important the script is. And they seem to respect the actors and their process (as you may know, Franklin was an actor for several years). I think there are many directors that are more concerned with how cool the shot looks rather than whether the performance is good.
Name the actor you would love to work with and why?
Paul Newman. Anyone that can survive Hollywood for over 50 years and still be humble and have a sense of humor has my vote (in addition to being one of the best actors ever). And I want to shoot a game of pool with Fast Eddie Felson. "Money won is twice as sweet as money earned.."
Any tips and things learned along
the way to pass on to others?
Don't give up. Cream may not always rise to the top, but if you churn it up enough, it will turn to butter.
What's next for you?
Sean Corrigan: I just finished a SIMPSONS script that I am entering into contests and I am 80 pages into a feature script (true story) about a female horse jockey.
FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from
In L.A., making a living as a writer and an actor.