American Gem 2005 Short Screenplay Competition - THE VETERAN

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Ron C. Bramhall

First Place Winner

Ron C. Bramhall
of Bardwell, TX
Screenplay
THE VETERAN
Drama
Biography:

Born and raised in rural Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh, I joined the Army when I turned 18 and served 4 years as an Intelligence Analyst during Panama and Desert Storm. Upon discharge, I entered the University of West Florida and graduated with a BA in Criminal Justice in 1995. I've since worked as an Outward Bound Wilderness Instructor in Florida, a Juvenile Probation Officer in Texas, and a Talented and Gifted Teacher in inner-city Dallas. I'll miss the kids, but I just recently resigned to focus full-time on a screenwriting career.
I've always been a writer, winning my first award in 6th Grade for poetry. Thankfully, my life experiences have been incredible and varied, providing a cast of characters that populate my stories. I can't deny my life's calling anymore and I hope to gain sudden success doing what I love to do - writing stories!

Interview

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

probably at the age of 6 or 7, sitting on my Father's lap watching Sergio Leone's "A Fistful of Dollars". I realized that you could write stories that weren't just written down in a book and imagined in the mind's eye. Screenplays were stories that could actually be brought to life right in front of you. 

I know I've succeeded....

when someone asks me "What do you do for a living?" and I can say "I'm a screenwriter." 

My inspiration to write THE VETERAN.......

I'm a huge fan of socially charged films of the late '60s and 70s. I envy the fact that artists of the time had the opportunity to create important stories that helped bring about activism and that dealt with real-time issues. As an Army vet, the plight of my brother and sister soldiers under this administration keeps me up at night. My frustration expressed itself through this idea. Since writing this story, the headlines day to day verify the injustices our physically and mentally injured veterans must face when they return home. The VA budget slashing is a punch in their guts. So many shattered lives. I wrote The Veteran to try and produce myself because I feel that it is an important story tat can help bring attention to some of the problems facing our Iraq War vets. 

 

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FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Ron Bramhall: The idea of being immortal - that something I've written could be picked up and read by someone 100 years from now and possibly inspire them. 

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

Ron Bramhall: My minor in college was Radio/TV/Film, so I had scriptwriting classes. I continue learning through trade magazines and web sites (Like Filmmakers.com!), books, the Austin Screenwriting Conference, membership in the Dallas Screenwriter's Association, and bi-weekly meetings with two other screenwriters.

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

Ron Bramhall: Not my first script, but this is my first short and the idea flowed out in one late-night sitting. I have 3 feature screenplays completed and they took much longer than that.

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

Ron Bramhall I wish! Now that I'm concentrating full-time on writing, I have created a schedule to follow. Writing 5 pages a day is a goal, in theory producing a 120 page script in less than a month. It'll never happen.   

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

Ron Bramhall: I do now! You just have to be selective and research which contests have a reputation or a track record of success for winning writers. If you place or win, it's a needed validation of what you're trying to do.

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

Ron Bramhall: After writing The Veteran, I had to find a home for it. Shorts are so different from features, in many ways much more difficult. I thought I might have something good, timely, and worthy of production. American Gem felt right.  

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

Ron Bramhall: Well, the best are old and have a pace foreign to modern studio films. I would have to recommend "Raiders of the Lost Ark" by Lawrence Kasdan. It does it all. It has it all.

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

Ron Bramhall:The happiness and safety of my family - Jennifer, Ireland, and Christian; Trees, wild animals, the great outdoors and Native American culture; Teaching and counseling children; Underdogs winning; All forms of music, but especially Mazzy Star; Free will, legalization, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Put all that together and I pretty much have my perfect world. 

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Ron Bramhall: I really enjoy Randall Wallace and David Franzoni. They have my dream job as screenwriters of historical epics. All-time favorite has to be Walter Hill for so many classic films of the late 70s - early 80s that captured the era.

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

Ron Bramhall: Terrence Malick. I believe he is one of the few true poet-directors. His films ascend to a level of high art for me. Clint Eastwood is another legend who seems to create a unique atmosphere within his productions that a writer could flourish in.  

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

Ron Bramhall: He's passed on, but I would have loved to have written a screenplay for Charles Bronson. He showed flashes of brilliance during his career, but rarely had the opportunities to deliver what he was capable of doing. The thing about Bronson; he represented the common man, and in his best movies he made you believe that a common man could do superhuman things and find justice on his own. He didn't need steroid-infused muscles, computer generated martial arts, or an arsenal of weapons. It's an on-screen trait that can't be learned and isn't often repeated.

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

Ron Bramhall: Plan on your screenwriting career to take at least a few years to even show signs of developing. Research. Be persistent and thick-skinned. Be socially gifted and make yourself known to the cadre of screenwriting conferences and seminars. Look them in the eye and make them want to take a chance on reading your script.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Ron Bramhall: Keep writing. Keep sending emails, making phone calls, and trying to meet people in the business. I've got to get representation first, so that's my immediate goal. 

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

Ron Bramhall: Either on Cloud 9, enjoying my life with my family as a working screenwriter, or on Cloud 8.5, enjoying my family and my life as a Teacher, inspiring good karma to the masses.

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