To date, Ron Podell has written three feature screenplays (and is close to finishing his fourth) and 14 short screenplays, three of which have been produced. His scripts have won 36 top awards at films festivals/screenwriting contests, along with too many nominations/script finalist statuses to count.
Podell will be included in the upcoming book, titled “Top 50 Indie Writers in the World,” that will be released in 2016 through Apple iTunes. He served as a panelist for the “Screenplay Contests – Paths to Recognition and Production” seminar at the 2009 Screenwriting Expo in Los Angeles.
A tap dance instructor, haunted by personal loss, appears slightly unhinged. But, appearances are not always what they seem.
Along highway 70, a truck stops in front of the Lazy B Ranch. A man in US Army gets out of a truck then acknowledges the stranger who gave him a lift as the truck drives off. This is… read more
I knew I wanted to be screenwriter when I realized at an early age that I fell asleep every night going back through the details of the day, thinking about how they could have gone differently, and what it would have been like if they did. Watching it play out in my mind, I tried different dialogue, alternate responses, and observed how each choice elicited unique emotions. It was a form of escapism from some of the difficulties of my upbringing, and when I realized the power it had on shifting my feelings and mood, I began focusing on the transformative power of film and theatre.
My inspiration to write Leave While going through a training course in a small town known for its long Naval history, a small group of us - all Lieutenants - were walking back to base one day. With me was one of my best friends - an African-American - who was the only person of color among us. We didn't think twice when a caucasian police officer passing by stopped to talk to us... until we realized he stopped to single out my friend and ask what he was doing in that part of town. I couldn't believe that this amazing American standing next to me - a friend I would trust with my life - was being subjected to this kind of discrimination and disrespect. His choice to serve his country, his educational background, his incredible personality and his exemplary performance record became irrelevant next to the color of his skin. The story evolved from there. I changed the environment and manipulated the characters, but this incident remained the heart of the story.
Interview Part 1.
inspired you to write?
Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests are
important for aspiring screenwriters and why?
Magazine: What influenced you to enter the American Gem
Short Script Contest?
The story is dense, dark and complex. In a nutshell, a private detective investigates a case of adultery that leads to a conspiracy involving the L.A. water system during the 1930s. The first 15 pages are a blueprint of how to draw the reader in. It grabs you by the throat and hooks you in for the rest of the story.
The dialogue is classic film noir, but holds up and still sounds fresh today. It is written so smart, in that the audience learns the clues to the mystery at the same moment as the main character, Detective Jake Gittes, played by Jack Nicholson in the film. Usually, in film, the audience knows things well before the main character discovers them.
Additionally, the script contains great subplots and strong
character development, which includes nuanced backstory.
Even the bandage that covers Gittes’ sliced nose throughout
is a symbolic reminder of “his sticking his nose where it
doesn’t belong.” But, this makes the detective more curious
and he perseveres.
Magazine: Beside screenwriting what are you passionate
about and why?
FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?
FilmMakers Magazine: Where do you see yourself in
five years from now?
But, in the history of cinema, I still believe Billy Wilder is the greatest screenwriter who ever lived. He was great for many reasons. His writing came from his life experience, not watching movies. He was a journalist in Germany. Three of his family members were murdered in concentration camps. Because he moved often as a child, he never was able to stay in one place long enough get close to people. This led to developing an acerbic wit, which is on display in much of his screenplay dialogue.
He has written and or directed such classics as “Sunset Boulevard,” “Some Like I Hot” and “Double Indemnity,” among many others. One of my favorites is “Ace in the Hole,” a 1951 film decades before its time. It was a virtual precursor to today’s tabloid-style news coverage. One of his well-known quotes is “I just made pictures I would’ve liked to see.” When people ask me why I write what I do, I always say “I just write movies I’d like to see.” It’s true. Every genre has been done, but I always try to write a variation -- add something fresh or a new wrinkle -- to a familiar story.
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