American Gem 2006 Short Screenplay Competition - NO LIMIT: THE EXTREMELY SHORT STORY OF MY POKER CAREER
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Scott A. Magie

Runner Up

Scott A. Magie
Wilmington, NC

Scott A. Magie: Writer, Director, Editor. Ever since his childhood without television in rural New England, Scott has had a passion for storytelling. He now makes a career of it while living in North Carolina with his wife and their potted plant named Newt. He (Scott, not Newt) owns and operates The Flipbook Moving Picture Company (, which boasts a loyal clientele and a number of developing projects, including WHEN COTTON BLOSSOMS, a feature film based on the inspirational life-story of famed Mississippi educator Dr. Laurence C. Jones.


I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker.......  

when I saw the Tim Robbins film DEAD MAN WALKING.


I know I've succeeded.......  

when the audience goes “ooh.”


was the phrase “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” My father always told me that, but I had begun to doubt its value as a personal mantra. Despite repeatedly aiming for the moon, I never seemed to even get off the ground. By writing in the first person and mixing in a bit of truth to the fiction, I discovered (along with the main character) that the truth of my dad’s mantra depends not on my natural ability or luck, but on a new definition of success.




FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Scott A. Magie: My grandfather, who is the best storyteller I know, and my Mom, who read to me every night. Thanks to her, I grew up in the worlds of J.R.R. Tolkein, C.S. Lewis, and E.B. White.

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

Scott A. Magie: I learned the craft of storytelling by reading as a child and writing short fiction as a young adult. To learn the unique craft and format of screenwriting, I went to Montana State for film school and read any “How To” books that didn’t have “idiot” or “dummy” in the title.

FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script and how long did it take you to write NO LIMIT: THE EXTREMELY SHORT STORY OF MY POKER CAREER?

Scott A. Magie: No, this is not my first script. The first draft took two days and the second draft took one, but the main character took thirty years to develop.

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

Scott A. Magie: Yes, but the best ideas seem to occur whenever I’m far away from my laptop, so maybe I shouldn’t sit here staring at it every day from 8 to 6.

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

Scott A. Magie: I do now. If you win something it gives you credibility and a reason to update your website. And if you don’t win anything, just don’t tell anyone.

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

Scott A. Magie: I liked the elimination process because it allowed me to submit two scripts to see where they ranked instead of just getting a rejection letter.

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

Scott A. Magie: Read the work of other aspiring writers. It will help you critique your own work and either inspire you with its brilliance or remind you of your talent with its banality.

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

Scott A. Magie: God, Wife, Family, Films, Mountains, and Ice Cream, all for obvious reasons.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Scott A. Magie:  William Goldman, because he wrote the novel and the equally brilliant screenplay for THE PRINCESS BRIDE. And Charlie Kaufman, because I thought I had a good imagination until I saw BEING JOHN MALKOVICH.

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

Scott A. Magie: Ron Howard, Joe Johnston, or Frank Darabont (and oh yeah, that Spielberg guy) because they make famous actors seem like real, ordinary people and then they find a way to make the ordinary dramatic.

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

Scott A. Magie: Bill Campbell, because he IS the Rocketeer and Jennifer Connelly, because she will always be Jenny Blake to me. (And oh yeah, Morgan Freeman, David Morse, Bonnie Hunt, Dustin Hoffman, Sam Rockwell, Vincent D’Onofrio, Sean Penn, and Susan Sarandon too, because they make it look easy.)

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

Scott A. Magie: (1) Good dialogue should not be more than three or four lines long. This is a great rule that I break all the time, but being aware of it keeps me from rambling. Get in, get to the point, and get out! (2) Let the audience write the story. You’re just writing scenes. This concept drastically changed my approach to writing. (3) Use an outline if you want/need to, but don’t stick to it if the characters want to do something else. You can always go back to your outline on the second draft if something isn’t working.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Scott A. Magie:A chiropractor appointment.

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

Scott A. Magie: I’ll probably have a child or two, which is a scary thought, and the feature I’m developing, called WHEN COTTON BLOSSOMS, will (God willing) be completed, distributed, and seated comfortably on a DVD shelf near you. Here’s to my film career lasting longer than my poker career ever could.

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