I knew I
wanted to be a screenwriter.......
After seeing Spike
Lee's, She's Gotta Have It. He's still the model for me any
young aspiring filmmaker.
I know I've
when my scripts can financially support my
dream of living the life of a "rockstar writer".
was my neighbor Ms.
Ann Thomas. She was a beloved elderly lady who recently passed away
from Alzheimers. I wanted to evoke her (as well as Harlems) spirit and
What inspired you to write?
Jackson: I used to get haunted by these scenes and characters begging me to tell
their story. Writing became kind of like an exorcism.
FilmMakers Magazine: How did you prepare yourself to
write your first script?
I actually had
enough money saved up, so I quit my day job ( selling high end
furniture) and locked myself in my room. I gave myself permission to
be completely selfish.
Is this your first script and how long did it take you to write
No it's not. Pandora's Box, was my first
script. It took me about three months to just get it down and another
two months of drafts.
Do you have a set routine, place and time management for writing?
I jot down notes throughout the day. Then late at
night after my family has gone to sleep I develop those notes into
FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests
are important for aspiring screenwriters and why?
competitions are extremely important. You get to take your first real
foray into the filmmaking community. My journey with American Gem has
done so much for helping me realize my own dream. I feel like I can
make it, writing for a living.
FilmMakers Magazine: What influenced you to enter the
American Gem Short Script Competition?
completed The Gardener, I felt that the script actually had a
voice. I researched online for the best short screenplay contest. You
guys are it!
What script would you urge aspiring writers to read and why?
Screenwiting books gave me a window into what you needed to know in
writing your script. But when I read Robert Towne, Chinatown script I
was in big trouble because I realized I knew nothing about structure.
I say read scripts you admire.
Beside screenwriting what are you passionate about and why?
I'm passionate about my family. My wife and my two kids are my best
support. I also love photography.
Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?
I really don't have
one. As I mentioned earlier Robert Towne. As a child of the seventies,
I loved Frank Pierson, Dog Day Afternoon or Paddy Chayefsky, Network.
Timeless, authentic, gritty and urban.
Name the director you would love to work with and why?
I would love to work with John Sayles or Carl Franklin. I love their
films sparcity and the way their characters and scenes develop. Or a
legend like Sidney Lumet. He understands the craft of filmmaking,
writer and actor and how all those elements come together and make
Name the actor you would love to work with and why?
Jackson: Don Cheadle and Helen Mirren. Brilliant, both of them. They never do
"look at me" performances even when handling very larger than life
personas. They get out of their own way and let the characters use
Any tips and things learned along the way to pass on to others?
Never give up. Never do it because you think you'll be famous or any
of that crap. Do it because you have to. And write, write, write. You
can only get better at it.
What's next for you?
Jackson: I'm working on a feature script. I gave myself until January 2007 to
have my first draft.
FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from
Jackson: A family man who just so happens to be a successful screenwriter.