I knew I
wanted to be a screenwriter.......
When I watched a
movie and thought to myself, ďWhat a great story!Ē And saw the credits
and it said: Story ByÖ. That was the guy with the idea and where it
all started. The beginning. Thatís where I wanted to be.
I know I've
Itís very simple for me. When someone
has read something Iíve written and thinks, ďHey, this is good!Ē Itís
even better if they say it out loud, or to an influential friend.
to write THE EXECUTIONER.......
came from watching
television news. Almost every day there are murderers being given life
sentences and the death penalty, but still, understandably, the
families of the victims want more. Something that will make the pain
go away. So I thought to myself, ďHmmmm Ö what if? ÖĒ
What inspired you to write?
Smolen: Itís very
satisfying for me to know that I can start with nothing (a blank page)
and end up with something (a completed story) which I hope is clever,
original, entertaining, and that readers will respond to.
FilmMakers Magazine: How did you prepare yourself to
write your first script?
My first script
was in college, and I was very poorly prepared. It was a long battle
to try to turn a mediocre idea, poorly thought-out, into an acceptable
script. It was good practice, a lot of mistakes were made, and to tell
you the truth I was just happy to finish the product and put it away.
Far, far away (yeah, it wasnít very good). Thatís when I realized,
ďHey, this isnít going to be easy. Let me try that again.Ē
Is this your first script and how long did it take you to write
My first script was in college, and I was very poorly
prepared. It was a long battle to try to turn a mediocre idea, poorly
thought-out, into an acceptable script. It was good practice, a lot of
mistakes were made, and to tell you the truth I was just happy to
finish the product and put it away. Far, far away (yeah, it wasnít
very good). Thatís when I realized, ďHey, this isnít going to be easy.
Let me try that again.Ē
Do you have a set routine, place and time management for writing?
No. Sometimes I go weeks without writing, and then I
have days in a row when I can write page after page. However, the days
when Iím not writing I do think of story ideas, or how to fix
something thatís been giving me problems in a story. Itís like a
photography teacher once told me, you canít spend all your time in the
darkroom (though it can be tempting). You have to get out and
FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests
are important for aspiring screenwriters and why?
Yes. I think
itís a great feeling and very motivating to get a notification that
youíve made it past any stage of a screenplay contest. To me, that
means somebody read my work and put it in the ďI like itĒ pile. Plus
when a contest offers a change for your story to be produced, or to
meet with producers and/or agents, itís a great opportunity for an
FilmMakers Magazine: What influenced you to enter the
American Gem Short Script Competition?
I wanted to start entering some of my work into
feature screenplay contests and started looking around the web. During
my search I came upon information on The American Gem Short Screenplay
Competition which had received good reviews at moviebytes.com, and
which offered impressive awards to its winners. I never considered
entering a short script contest before that.
What script would you urge aspiring writers to read and why?
I couldnít make a
Beside screenwriting what are you passionate about and why?
I like photography,
for different reasons than my writing. Photography for me is capturing
real things around me, whereas my writing is making things up.
However, they both involve telling a story. The personís expression,
cameraís exposure to show motion, background, etc. When it comes right
down to it, itís so much easier to write than to take a picture that
can capture all of the same.
Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?
Rod Sterling for The Twilight Zone series. What an imagination!
Name the director you would love to work with and why?
Iíve never really
thought about working with a particular director or actor (question
Name the actor you would love to work with and why?
Smolen: See above.
Any tips and things learned along the way to pass on to others?
I think writing short scripts is a great idea. A lot of people
(including myself) go for the feature length script, but if you write
a short script you can find out in a couple of weeks if you have
something worth pursuing or not. If youíre writing a feature it could
take a year to realize your story isnít working. What a waste of time.
Thatís just my opinion..
What's next for you?
Smolen: I keep writing and hope someone new reads and thinks, ďHey, this is
FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from
Smolen: I stopped making
plans. Iím just going to go with the flow.