I wrote and directed my first play
while I was still in high school. It was called, “Unheard Cries,
Unseen Scars.” It was about the emotional effects of child abuse. A
lot of people came back stage after the show to talk to me – they had
been so moved by the play. I have enjoyed working in the theatre, but
felt I could express more in cinema.
I know I've succeeded.......
I guess that depends on what kind of
“success” we are talking about. Getting something produced, getting a
credit on IMBD, receiving payment (just enough to keep me from having
to work outside of the home, unless of course I want to – I love my
work at the hospital). The aforementioned would be nifty, but to be
able to get something out there that could entertain, uplift, console,
inform, etc would be a wonderful thing. For now though – having an
agent, director or studio query me for a change, might cause me to
faint right in front of my mailbox.
My inspiration to write NO MORE
My inspiration to write NO MORE SPIDERS came from a true-life experience. I
don’t know why, but most of the parents in my childhood neighborhood had
drinking problems – hence a lot of verbal, emotional and physical abuse
occurred. The hiding place I made for my childhood chum is still there beneath
my parent’s home, but now it is covered in dust and the spiders have returned.
What inspired you to write?
CarrieAnn Lee: As a child, praise from teachers encouraged me
to keep working on my writing. I went to school in secondhand clothes
and had a speech impediment – the kids loved to tease me. I wasn’t
anything great in their eyes, but I was great on the page.
FilmMakers Magazine: How did you prepare yourself to
write your first script?
My first screenplay was TWICE UPON A TIME. I can’t say I purposely did
anything in particular to prepare for it. I kept a journal and drew
from my experiences as a hospice caregiver. I had had several
experiences where I felt a “presence” in the room after one of my
patients had died. I know that life continues on after death and I
wanted to write a story that touched on this. So, I wrote a fictional
piece about a small island in Washington that was about to loose its
beloved theater. One by one the dead walk back into town to help save
it – an inspirational dramedy.
FilmMakers Magazine: Is
this your first script and how long did it take you to write NO MORE
Actually this is my seventh screenplay and it took me about a month to
write. But, I’ve been carrying this story around with me for over
twenty years. It was a story that was going to keep haunting me until
I put it down on paper.
FilmMakers Magazine: Do you have a set routine, place and time management for writing?
I am the mother of ten children, but I need the house to become still
and quiet for optimum concentration. So, now that they are all school
age, I wait until after I put them on the school bus. Then I grab a
cup of cocoa and go at it. Mornings have always been best for me
anyway. I can do my editing anytime though.
FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests
are important for aspiring screenwriters and why?
No one is going to consider your work if you haven’t placed in the
finals of at least one contest. Even if you don’t place the first
time, some contests give feedback and you can use the critique for
doing some revisions, etc. If it is affiliated with a writing
conference or film festival, you can attend and make new acquaintances
who you can bounce ideas off of and exchange info with. Any support
you can find is helpful.
FilmMakers Magazine: What
influenced you to enter the
American Gem Short Script Competition?
Instead of trying to handle multiple script types – they just take on
“short scripts.” So, I knew that they would have a good eye for a
great short script. I’ve gone back through their archives and have
found that they don’t show a preference for only certain kinds of
genres. Everyone has a fair chance. I know from the winner’s feedback
that they deliver what is promised and moviebytes.com gives them a
high rating. All other websites give them a high rating in the
“significance’ category also.
FilmMakers Magazine: What script would you urge aspiring writers to read and why?
This is going to be embarrassing . . . I’ve watched thousands of
movies and I know who my favorite writers are, but I haven’t read any
Beside screenwriting what are you
passionate about and why?
My husband, my children and their happiness, my work as a healthcare
provider, teaching, gardening and a good game of football (one that
I’m playing in, I’m not much of a spectator). And of course – A
National Health Insurance program, slowing down global warming, the
education of our children and their safety.
FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter
Nora Ephron and Nancy Meyer are very entertaining, and my style is
similar to theirs. Leslie Dixon for her versatility and ability to
keep you guessing such as in THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR. Even though
Robert Zemeckis is more notable as a director, he has written many of
his own pieces and is very good at re-telling a story (adaptations).
Andrew Niccol and David Auburn are also very creative in their
FilmMakers Magazine: Name
the director you would love to work with and why?
Nora Ephron, Nancy Meyer, Robert Zemeckis, James Cameron and M. Night
Shyamalan are all directors that have done quite a bit of writing
themselves. Who better to bend an ear to their screenwriter while
working on their film? They know what it is like to promote their baby
and the need to have the screenwriter’s opinion on something. Besides,
they’re all extremely talented and successful, with multiple hits to
show for it. Alfonso Arau and Paul Haggis for their cinematography.
Name the actor you would love to work with and why?
CarrieAnn Lee: Jodie Foster, Meryl Streep, Sissy Spacek,
Julianne Moore and Emma Thompson for their ability to play strong
women so well and for having played so many different kinds of rolls.
Emma Thompson, Meg Ryan, Kyra Sedgwick and Minnie Driver for their
great range and ability to make us laugh.
Tobey Maguire for his sincerity; Tommy Lee Jones and Morgan Freeman
for their character parts; Sean Connery and Michael Caine for the
class they add to a picture; Robert Duvall, Liam Neeson and James
Caviezal for the serious rolls they have had to play.
A pairing of Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman one more time would be
I would love to work with any of the above, but the likelihood . . . ?
A girl can dream can’t she?
Any tips and things learned along
the way to pass on to others?
heard this before, but write about what you know. Your writing will
flow so much easier and your audience will be drawn into your story.
After you finish your first script, don’t let your excitement cause
you to mail it off too soon. Take your time and check and double check
for mechanics, formatting and things that make sense to you, but may
not to your audience. Have friends read it. After you get their
thoughts (not criticism) on it, tweak it some more. Then when you
think it is ready, put it down and leave it for a while. When you
finally come back to it and read it again – you will probably find a
number of things that you will want to correct or change. Don’t let
your excitement hurry you unless you don’t mind throwing money away at
screenwriting contests with no return benefits. Also, research your
contest. They are not all equal!