1st T Script Writing Contest



Winners | Biography | Logline | Synopsis | Interview | Script Excerpt


American Gem Short Script Contest


Susan Hippen_for_Persuasion

TV Pilot

Susan Hippen
of Los Angeles, CA United States



Susan Hippen

Susan Hippen writes drama pilots with strong, flawed, and resilient women protagonists. Her creative
viewpoint grows from her independent filmmaking and NYU Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film MFA.
As a writer-director, her short films have screened internationally, including in the Slamdance Film Festival
and IFC Center's Best of Slamdance. Her background includes a UCLA TFT Screenwriting MFA and Master
of Architecture MArchI, work in set design on films and commercials, diverse and unusual job experiences,
and a small-town Midwest upbringing. She is determined to bring bold, underrepresented voices to television.



At the end of her rope, an unemployed Buffalo bookkeeper joins a powerful all-female philanthropic network to turn her life around and save her failing family. Instead, she makes a Faustian deal with a corrupt financial web that protects itself at all costs.


Interview Part 1.

I knew I wanted to be screenwriter while working in set design, I steadily wrote on the side. I fell in love with film and TV and, over time,
realized I wanted to tell the story.

I know I've succeeded when I finish a new script, if someone relates to or loves my characters, and whenever my work elicits strong feelings.

My inspiration to write Persuasion... Mistrust your gut, and terrible things can happen. Despite knowing this, many an adult opposes their intuition, on a painful and all-too-universal search for idealized parental guidance. My stubborn protagonist must learn to summon guidance from within. Until then, she keeps making worse choices, while trying to make things better. But she keeps trying.


Interview Part 2.

FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Susan Hippen: As a child, reading saved me. Books gave me hope and showed me what changes might be possible. My love and gratitude for authors' relatable characters and exciting new worlds led me to want to create my own stories.

FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script and how long did it take you to complete?

Susan Hippen: This is my first pilot script, after writing a spec episode and various independent film projects. The first draft took several months. Rewriting took many hours, on and off, over the course of a year.

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

Susan Hippen: I write at home, in theaters before plays, in diners, at the airport. If an environment gets too loud, I wear headphones. I like having a block of time, but when unavailable, short bursts work, too. They add up. Time management depends on my paying job. I love to write first thing in the morning and revisit the story before bed, to activate my subconscious. When I am lucky, I wake up with a new solution.

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests are important for aspiring screenwriters and why?
Susan Hippen:
Yes, because contests offer concrete deadlines and exposure. They also provide feedback, to help improve the script and learn how readers perceive it.

FilmMakers Magazine: What influenced you to enter the 1st TV Script Writing Contest?

Susan Hippen: The organizers sounded serious about writing and business.

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

Susan Hippen: "On the Waterfront" by Budd Schulberg. Beyond the soulful content, each time I see the film and read the script, I notice something new.

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

Susan Hippen: Art, architecture, and nature. They all factor heavily into my background, and now continue to shape my work
and spark my imagination.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Susan Hippen: James Baldwin, for his beautiful style, poignancy, incisiveness, and humor.

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

Susan Hippen: Alison Maclean, based on her provocative independent films.

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

Susan Hippen: Nicola Walker, for her layered, mesmerizing TV and stage performances.

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

Susan Hippen: Hang onto your voice and trust your gut. If a piece of the story bothers you, improve it until you believe in each page. Set deadlines and finish. Ask questions and take risks. Keep writing.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Susan Hippen: I will write spec pilots, observe and explore, and work toward collaborating on a TV project.

FilmMakers Magazine: Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
Susan Hippen:
I would love to be in a writers' room on a TV drama, working with a creative team on a story about surprising, diverse, and funny women.

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