Annual American Gem
2016 CONTEST |
Secrets of the Stars
American Gem Short Script Contest
7TH PLACE WINNER
Secrets of the Stars
West Hollywood, CA, United States
is an artist, writer and filmmaker resident in Los Angeles,
California. She has a Ph.D. in Art History, Curatorship and
Film Studies from the Australian National University and
recently completed the writers program at UCLA.
The staff at an unusual day spa offers their ageing clients
products they just can't resist.
Interview Part 1.
I knew I wanted to be screenwriter when
I picked up a video camera for the first time. I was an
undergrad studying fine art and became intrigued by the
creative possibilities of film. I've been obsessed with it
I know I've succeeded when I see my work on the
big screen, on canvas or in print. It's always a buzz to see
something from inside my head out there in the real world.
inspiration to write Secrets of the Stars
stemmed from living in Los Angeles where the onus on age and
body type, particularly for women, is brutal. The script was
written as a stand-alone short film that serves as a
commentary on ageing. My hope is that the short film will be
made and used as a pilot for a television series.
Interview Part 1.
inspired you to write?
screenwriting as a way of exploring issues I feel passionate
about and make a point of writing strong female characters
interacting with the world in intelligent, effective ways.
FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script
and how long did it take you to complete?
several spec scripts, and lots of shorts. This particular
one started out with Rod SerlingísThe Twilight Zone in mind.
The first draft probably took a week or so before being
stuffed into my filing cabinet to fester for months or years
before being plucked out and polished. Itís my standard
FilmMakers Magazine: Do you have a set
routine, place and time management for writing?
that? I live on my own planet and run on my own timetable.
Iíve taken over the dining room of my apartment as an office
and art studio. This means I can cook while I write, paint
and run the household. It's called multitasking. Women do it
all the time. It also means we have to eat on a little cafť
table in the living room. Itís a matter of priorities. One
must suffer for one's art and anyone who lives in my house
has to suffer too. Earth is my planet. I just let everyone
else live here.
Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests are
important for aspiring screenwriters and why?
It certainly gave
me a shot in the arm. When I finished the Writers' Program
at UCLA I asked one of the lecturers what I should do next
and he suggested I enter competitions, so I did. Earlier I
had written Beyond the Shadows, an environmental thriller
that I considered to be a throw away script. To my utter
astonishment it was a finalist in the UCLA Feature Film
Screenwriting Competition. I then entered it into the
Hollywood Screenplay Competition and won the grand prize for
best thriller. Since then, every screenplay Iíve entered
into competitions has either won or placed highly.
Magazine: What influenced you to enter the American Gem
Short Script Contest?
I did some
research online and liked the reviews. Also, there are few
competitions where one can enter a 40 page script as a
FilmMakers Magazine: What script would you
urge aspiring writers to read and why?
Lodging is one of my favorite films of all time. Allison
Anders directed and wrote the screenplay. She did a superb
job. The screenplay was a sensitive and insightful
adaptation of a novel by Richard Peck. Actually, Iíd
recommend anything Anders wrote or directed. These days she
seems to work mostly in TV, and does it with her usual
Magazine: Beside screenwriting what are you passionate
about and why?
diving, cooking, travel, environmental and human rights
issues keep me busy and intellectually engaged. As I grow
older, I have come to the unfortunate realization that one
single lifetime isnít nearly enough to thoroughly explore
the things that interest me. Iím hoping the Buddhists are
correct, and that we get to come back and do it all again
until we are fulfilled.
The one-shot-to-get-it-right Judaeo-Christian belief in
Heaven and Hell fills me with dread.
My Idea of Burning in Hell is to Spend all Eternity Stuck in
Heaven with my Ghastly Relatives.
FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite
Screenwriter and Why?
I have to say the
Cohen Brothers have traditionally tickled my fancy, although
their last movie, Hail Caesar, was absolutely
dreadful. Letís hope there will be no repeat of that fiasco.
loved The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou,
Fargo and Barton Fink. Their compelling characters
and off-beat humor provides an intriguing alternative to
standard Hollywood fare.
Magazine: Name the director you would love to work with
Fritz Lang and Leni Riefenstahl would be my top 3 picks.
Unfortunately they all dropped dead ages ago. It is a poorly
recognized fact that some of Hitchcock and Langís most
famous films were actually written by women at a time when
women were seldom allowed behind the camera. I canít help
wondering what great films those women writers might have
produced if theyíd been so inclined, and had been given the
opportunity and tools to do so.
If I could catch
a live director, Kathryn Bigelow, Alison Anders or Jane
Campion would be top of my list. Why? Because they are all
brilliant, and it is ever so important for women in the film
industry to support each other and promote diverse voices in
Film is a
collaborative art, and it all begins with a good script.
Writers are seldom acknowledged, or rewarded, for their
contributions to the most influential cultural medium of the
20th and 21st century. That needs to change, and womenís
voices need to be heard loud and clear.
Magazine: Name the actor you would love to work with and
would be perfect for the lead role in Secrets of the Stars.
Iíve also written a juicy supernatural thriller sheíd be
FilmMakers Magazine: Any tips and things
learned along the way to pass on to others?
Darlene Inkster: Procrastination
is a bitch. I find the only way to concentrate on, and
finish a project is to jot down any ideas that are
distracting me. It might be for a short story, or a script,
or an academic essay. I just spit it out in whatever
fragmented form it might be, print it, pop it in my ideas
file and (hopefully) get back to it later. The trouble is
that every time I go to the file to pluck out a project and
finish it, I discover ten new ones in its place. My filing
cabinet is a bottomless pit and Iím drowning in paper.
My other non-tip
is to forget all the rules and just write the most
compelling story you possibly can, in the most economical
way feasible. If you enjoy writing it, you know youíre on
the right path.
FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?
I have several
projects in the works at any one time. My current priority
is to finish the second draft of my sci-fi novel and a
comedy feature screenplay. The documentary Iíve been working
on for the past year is calling my name, there is a pile of
correspondence Iíve been meaning to address, a stack of
books to be read, a Kashmiri curry on the stove needs
stirring, washing in the machine to be dried, the carpets
need a vacuum and I refuse point blank to iron anything,
FilmMakers Magazine: Where do you see yourself in
five years from now?
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