I knew I
wanted to be a screenwriter.......
when I took my
first screenwriting course in college. Iíve known I wanted to be a
writer since I was in 3rd grade, but I couldnít pinpoint what type of
writing. At first I found the format uncomfortable but with practice
(and convenient software) I knew that this is the way I wanted to tell
I know I've
well itís a hard
thing to quantify. I havenít had anything published or even produced
yet, but when someone can find something relatable or special about my
work, then thatís when I know Iíve succeeded.
STEPSISTER (THE MEETING) .......
came from a past
relationship. I dated someone who has a stepsister living in another
state with cancer all throughout her body. I thought about what an
interesting relationship they have over the phone and what their first
meeting might be like. The characters are nothing like the real
people, but the situation has always fascinated me and I wanted build
characters around it and see what they would do.
What inspired you to write?
Erica Soto: Itís hard to say. Most of the time inspiration, for me, comes just from
the desire to tell an interesting story, one that maybe no one would
imagine. It also stems from issues that are personally important to
me, such as family, struggle with religion, love of writing, and
social conventions. But it can come from something as small as a
sentence I overheard on the street, a picture or painting, a song, or
a memory from my childhood.
FilmMakers Magazine: How did you prepare yourself to
write your first script?
Is this your first script and how long did it take you to write
STEPSISTER (THE MEETING) ?
This was not my first
script. It probably took me about a few hours, over two weeks, to
Do you have a set routine, place and time management for writing?
Before I even start
typing, I usually like to have a rough outline of my script, with some
ending in mind. Writing on paper first is really important to me; I
feel like it gets your creativity going in a way that typing canít. I
like to have things going on in the background when I brainstorm or
write, i.e. TV, radio or music if Iím writing in my room at home. I
also love to people-watch while I do it because they often provide
inspiration for characters and situations. As for time, my writing
tends to come in spurts, although Iím making an effort to write at
least once a week.
FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests
are important for aspiring screenwriters and why?
I think that it
really depends on the writer. I love having deadlinesóthey push me to
get things done and I work best under time constraints. The
competitions are good for me because they allow me to make sure I get
the practice I need that I wouldnít necessary impose on myself,
especially with work, relationships, etc. It also allows me to see how
far I can make it with a script and what competitions and markets are
FilmMakers Magazine: What influenced you to enter the
American Gem Short Script Competition?
I was looking for
competitions to enter online and it looked like a good place to start.
What script would you urge aspiring writers to read and why?
Thank You For Not
Smoking is a really good script. Simple but flows very well.
Beside screenwriting what are you passionate about and why?
Erica Soto: I would say
that Iím passionate about television (Iím a Comedy Central addict!). I
think itís so important to be able to laugh, especially at yourself.
They call it the ďboob tubeĒ but I think it can make you smart if you
let it. I also love to travel and see new places. I studied abroad in
London and was able to visit a few countries in Europe. Itís important
to me to have an understanding about the world around us.
Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?
Erica Soto: I
donít know if I have a favorite but I am a huge fan of Larry Davidís
work. His scripts always seem to have a full-circle pattern to them
that I really enjoyed. He also used his writing to poke fun at himself
and the industry.
Name the director you would love to work with and why?
Erica Soto: It would have to be
Martin Scorcese for sure. His ability to tell a story about violence
and gangsters without being preachy or judgmental is unmatched. He is
also a New York native who puts a lot of the city and his childhood
into his vision. I love his highly stylized shots and his use of his
favorite music in his films.
Name the actor you would love to work with and why?
I would love to work
with Robert De Niro, because, well I love his films! I think heís a
great actor and he has a passion for what he does.
Any tips and things learned along the way to pass on to others?
Erica Soto: The biggest thing for
me was actually getting started. Donít be afraid to write! If you feel
that itís something you really want to do, donít let anything stop you
from doing it. Donít be afraid of criticism, and remember, practice
What's next for you?
Iím going to keep
pushing myself to write and be confident in my work.
FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from
Five years from now,
I hope to have a few short films produced and have at least one
feature in the works. I also hope to start up my own film production