American Gem 2007 Short Screenplay Competition - STEPSISTER (THE MEETING)
  American Gem Short Screenplay Competition
2007 WINNERS  

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Erica Soto

Runner Up

Erica Soto
of Bronx, NY

Erica Soto was born and raised in the Bronx, New York for most of her 24 years. Over two years ago, she graduated with a degree in Film/TV from the College of Communication from Boston University, and a minor in English Literature. While she loves writing short scripts for film, she would like to have a feature film produced, as well as write a spec script for a major network one day. Right now she works at a major media company in the Human Resources department, but had prior experience at academic institutions, real estate and television. As a Hispanic woman living in the Bronx, many of her scripts and story ideas are inspired by Hispanic culture and New York City life.


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 stories.


I know I've succeeded.......  

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.


My inspiration to write 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.




FilmMakers Magazine: 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? 

Erica Soto: 

FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script and how long did it take you to write STEPSISTER (THE MEETING) ?

Erica Soto: This was not my first script. It probably took me about a few hours, over two weeks, to complete.

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

Erica Soto: 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?

Erica Soto: 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 looking for.

FilmMakers Magazine: What influenced you to enter the American Gem Short Script Competition?

Erica Soto: I was looking for competitions to enter online and it looked like a good place to start.

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

Erica Soto: Thank You For Not Smoking is a really good script. Simple but flows very well.

FilmMakers Magazine: 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.

FilmMakers Magazine: 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.

FilmMakers Magazine: 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.

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

Erica Soto: 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.

FilmMakers Magazine: 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 makes perfect.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Erica Soto: Iím going to keep pushing myself to write and be confident in my work.

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

Erica Soto: 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 company.


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