American Gem 2007 Short Screenplay Competition Winners - NO MORE SPIDERS
  American Gem Short Screenplay Competition
2007 WINNERS  

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CarrieAnn Lee

Second Place Winner

CarrieAnn Lee
of Lakebay, WA

CarrieAnn Carter met Kerry Spencer Lee on a college soccer field. Even though they were covered in mud, they fell in love. Twenty years later, and the Kerrys are still going strong with seven daughters and three sons. The children take after their parents when it comes to enjoying a good game of soccer, basketball, tennis or track and whenever CarrieAnn can, she recruits one or more of her children to perform in her plays.

They live in a town called Lakebay, which has four small lakes within it and a large body of water called the Puget Sound, surrounding it. Lakebay is on the Key Peninsula in Washington State.

The mother of this team is CarrieAnn and she is known for her storytelling. By day, she cares for her family and by night, she works at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tacoma, WA. She has been entertaining her children and her patients with her stories for years. She has written and produced stage plays all over the Greater Puget Sound area. She is presently trying her hand at Screenwriting. Thus far, she has placed in the finals of 14 different contests, placed third in four of them and has taken first place in three. All but one of them has occurred within this last year. She hasn’t sold anything yet, but her kids think she is great anyway! 


I knew I wanted to be a screenwriter.......  

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 SPIDERS.......

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.




FilmMakers Magazine: 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? 

CarrieAnn Lee: 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 SPIDERS?

CarrieAnn Lee: 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?

CarrieAnn Lee: 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?

CarrieAnn Lee: 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?

CarrieAnn Lee: 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 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?

CarrieAnn Lee: 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 scripts.

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

CarrieAnn Lee: 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 and Why?

CarrieAnn Lee: 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 storytelling.

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

CarrieAnn Lee: 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.

FilmMakers Magazine: 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 grand too.

I would love to work with any of the above, but the likelihood . . . ? A girl can dream can’t she?

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

CarrieAnn Lee: You’ve probably 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!

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

CarrieAnn Lee: I’m off to the Screenwriting Expo in LA to rub shoulders with other new writers and to take as many classes as I can. When I come home I have an interview to prepare for (production co).

FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from now?

CarrieAnn Lee: Hopefully, rocking a new grandbaby while watching one of my films.


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