American Gem 2005 Short Screenplay Competition - WINGNUT
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Joseph Costa

Tenth Place Winner

Joseph Costa
Tampa, FL

Joseph Allen Costa, B.A. Mass Communications, University of South Florida.

Joe began his career writing and creating national sales ads for Macy’s on 34th Street in New York City. Soon after, he was recruited by Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon & Eckhardt where he worked as a copywriter and then a producer on accounts such as Chrysler and the Florida Lottery. After five years at Bozell, Joe started his own shop—Costa Creative Group—where he continued writing and producing award winning ad campaigns. Joe is a novelist (as well as an aspiring screenwriter) whose first book, Eye of the Storm, was published in 2001. His screenplay awards include:


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

when I discovered that screenplays are a helluva lot more fun to write than novels

I know I've succeeded.......  

when I can make a living working at a craft that I love.

My inspiration to write WINGNUT.......

There is a Native American saying that the story stalks the writer, and not the other way around. This was certainly the case in my inspiration for WINGNUT. The story came out incredibly fast. In just a few days…not counting the many rewrites that came afterward. I also wanted to write a story about a character with an extremely narrow character arc, whose particular handicap, was diagnosed not by the writer—but by the viewer (or in this case, the reader).




FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Joseph Costa: Moliere said: Writing is like prostitution: First you do it for love, then for a few friends and finally you do it for money. Of course, I haven’t sold any screenplays, so I guess I’m still doing it for love.

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

Joseph Costa: I read Chinatown by Robert Towne, and about 20 other screenplays. I also memorized the book: The Complete Guide To Standard Script Formats Part 1 by Cole/Haag.

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

Joseph Costa: No this it not my first script, but it is my first short. The initial draft took a few days, but a script is not done until it is produced.

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

Joseph Costa: I’m a full time copywriter and producer with a wife and kids. The only time I have is what I can steal in the middle of the night. But when I’m into a project, a routine works best.

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

Joseph Costa: Yes! Yes! Yes! A writer always asks the question: “Am I untalented or just undiscovered?” It is vitally important to get validation from folks in the business. Let’s face it, there are around 70,000 scripts registered with WGA each year and only a hand full of sales.

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

Joseph Costa: Who doesn’t want their script to be called an American Gem?

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

Joseph Costa: The important thing is to read scripts…all kinds of scripts and here’s why. You will read mediocre scripts that ended up as hit movies! And you will read beautifully written scripts that bombed. That said, here’s my short list:
Drama: The Godfather I and II (Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplays)

Mystery: Chinatown (Oscar Best Original Screenplay)

Comedy: The Big Lebowski (Not an Oscar winner, but one of my favorites.)

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

Joseph Costa: My family. They provide all the inspiration necessary for a happy life.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Joseph Costa: I have too many favorites, but the movies listed above are a good indication.

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

Joseph Costa Martin Scorsese, a brilliant director with an incredible well of knowledge about film and film history.

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

Joseph Costa: Robert De Niro.

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

Joseph Costa: I have way too much to learn about the craft to start giving advice.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Joseph Costa: I am writing WINGNUT as a full-length screenplay. I don’t believe the short tells the whole story about this character. After that, I have two other concepts that I can’t wait to work on..

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

Joseph Costa: If I write it down, I might jinx it.

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