American Gem 2004 Short Screenplay Competition - MEET ME BY THE BRIDGE

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Matt Tucker

Fifth Place Winner

Matt Tucker
of California
Screenplay
WONDERFUL IN WATTS
Drama / Comedy
Biography:

I was born in Covina, California and have lived in sunny Southern California my entire life.  I grew up in Diamond Bar and have spent the past thirteen years of my life in various parts of Orange County.  Iíve earned two degrees from California State University, Fullerton in the natural sciences and have worked for the past seven years with the County of Orange as an Environmental Hydrologist.  I went back to school two years ago and am scheduled to graduate (again) this summer with a B.A. in Television & Film.

Iíve mostly forgotten what I enjoy since going back to school while working full time, but I think I enjoy earth science, traveling abroad as well as in the States, music, the outdoors, writing, and watching great movies.

Interview

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

After writing a treatment for my story structure class at CSUF.  I finished a feature length draft the following semester and was hooked.

I know I've succeeded.......  

When my characters start to write the story themselves and then finish the story as well.

My inspiration to write WONDERFUL IN WATTS.......

First, Shelley Jenkins, a wonderful professor at CSUF, sent out a notification regarding the competition via email to all the students in the program.  Second, Iíve always had interest in black and white/interracial relations.  Movies such as To Kill a Mocking Bird or In the Heat of the Night appeal to me.  And lastly, when a hellacious hailstorm hit south-central Los Angeles in 2003, I saw the opportunity for a story.

 

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FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Matt Tucker:  I wanted to see if I could do it.  I have a heavy science background, so it was a challenge to me to see if I could do something Ďartsyí and write scripts.    What Iíve discovered is what a great feeling it is to create something.  Hopefully people like it, but writing stories with some meaning and substance really make me happy Iím finding out.  Once I got going, my writing teachers at school, Dr. Garrick Dowhen and Jule Selbo were (and continue to be) a source of inspiration as well.

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

Matt Tucker:  My story structure teacher simply asked the class to write down a couple of sentences about an idea we had for a movie.  The outline followed then the treatment, then the completed screenplay the following semester.  All the while I watched movies I like, read good screenplays and read popular books on screenwriting. 

FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script and how long did it take you to write WONDERFUL IN WATTS?

Matt Tucker: No, this was my second script.  My first was the feature length screenplay, Barracuda.  The first draft of ĎWatts was done in a couple weeks.

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

Matt Tucker: With work and school and life in general, I just write when I find time which is usually at night or on weekends.  I have a PC at home.  I use Final Draft.  I usually have some music playing softly in the background.  The music selection changes based on the script.  Music helps me get to where I want to be while writing, then hopefully my characters follow me there as well.

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

Matt Tucker: Yes.  Screenwriting competitions give aspiring writers an attainable goal by evening the playing field.  Iím not saying a first time writer canít sell a movie script to Hollywood right off the bat, but the chances of that are extremely slim.  I think writing contests pit you against writers of a similar ilk.  The net result being an attainable goal for the new writer which carries over into motivation for the writer.  The motivation gets the writer writingÖ which is most important thingÖ to write!

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

Matt Tucker: Shelley Jenkins is a professor at the CSUF, TV & Film Program.  I really respect her vigor for teaching and the interest she shows for the students.  When she sent me the notification of the competition, I was instantly motivated to enter.  When I perused the website and contest details, I saw that this was a very worth while competition.  Wonderful in Watts was written specifically for the American Gem Short Script Competition.  I owe a big thank you to Shelley. 

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

Matt Tucker: I liked reading As Good as it Gets by Mark Andrus and Dog Day Afternoon by Frank Pierson.  Simply stories and amazing characters (and great supporting characters) that jump right off the page. This is how itís done.

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

Matt Tucker: The weather Ė itís always changing.  Other cultures Ė for the food, song, dance, language, wardrobe, customs, etcÖ and to some extent California, for its interesting history, eclectic natural beauty, and for its cast of characters and dream seekers from all over the world.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Matt Tucker:  Iíve recently taken to the mind-benders of Charlie Kaufmann and the soulful stories of Alexander Payne.  And for their darkness, Iíll take a gritty 1970ís screenplay by Francis Coppola or Paul Schrader any day.

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

Matt Tucker:  Pedro Almodovar, David Lynch or Roger Avery.  I wish Avery would direct more.  If I had to pick one, Avery.  He has a great website, his movies are artistic and quirky, heís a total cinephile, and he is a man of the world with a conscience.  Almodovar has these traits as well.  Lynch is a brilliant artist who happens to make movies.  Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart are amazing.  He makes movies that you can watch repeatedly and find something new it with each viewing.

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

Matt Tucker:   Jack Nicholson.  Heís great.  Period.  I think I could learn a lot from himÖ about actors, about movies, and about characters. 

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

Matt Tucker: 1. Write the stories you have inside you.  Whether you are getting paid for it or notÖ youíve got to get those stories you have inside of you out.  You know the story Ė now just start writing it!  2.  Observe.  3.  Try new things (anything). 

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Matt Tucker: Find an internship in the entertainment biz, graduate, and find a jobÖ and have fun while doing it. 

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

Matt Tucker:  I havenít the faintest ideaÖ but a gig as a writer would be nice!

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