American Gem 2007 Short Screenplay Competition - TELL NO TALES
  American Gem Short Screenplay Competition
2007 WINNERS  

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James M. O'Donoghue

Runner Up

James M. O'Donoghue
of Pound Ridge, NY
Film Noir

After spending twenty-one years on Wall Street as a Commodity Futures Trader and a Member/Pit Broker on the NYMEX Futures Exchange James M. O'Donoghue turned to Acting. Beginning with numerous Stage appearances then moving to Screen he has appeared in over Thirty Indie films. He had a featured role in "Welcome to the Dollhouse", a Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize winner in 1996.

He enjoys writing Short Stories, Screenplays and Photography. His Screenplay, "Judith" took Fourth place in 2005 Abbreviated Screenplay Contest. In the coming year several exhibitions of his photo collection, "In Black and Light" are scheduled.


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


I know I've succeeded.......  

in beginning to understand how a successful screenplay is written and how hard it is to write one.


My inspiration to write TELL NO TALES.......

was the desire to write a noir screenplay so black that it shone brilliantly. A ‘not your typical Hollywood screenplay’ that truly drew the reader into the dark story and left him wanting more.




FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

James M. O'Donoghue: an active imagination which helped greatly when acting found another outlet in short stories and screenplays.

FilmMakers Magazine: How did you prepare yourself to write your first script? 

James M. O'Donoghue: To prepare myself to write my first script I bought "The Screenwriter’s Bible" by David Trottier.

FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script and how long did it take you to write TELL NO TALES?

James M. O'Donoghue: This is not my first script and only took a few days to write. The re-writing though took several months off and on.

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

James M. O'Donoghue: I write when an idea comes to me. Sometimes I’ll play with it a bit then put it down for awhile. Other times I tear into it every moment I can spare.

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests are important for aspiring screenwriters and why?

James M. O'Donoghue: Screenplay contests are a way of getting your work read by people who know what they are looking at. To do well in a Screenplay Contest like American Gem is a ‘recommendation’ for someone else to feel that your screenplay is worth a read. Win or lose you can never tell what it may lead to.

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

James M. O'Donoghue: I like challenges and writing a good short screenplay is one I truly enjoy. The American Gem Screenplay Contest has a great reputation and is known as a class act with some very tangible results.

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

James M. O'Donoghue: I haven’t had the chance to read the script myself but probably reading "Memento" would be a good idea. Nolan keeps it tight and makes you work along with him. There are so many points where he could have lost it but he didn’t.

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

James M. O'Donoghue: I love writing short stories, acting and photography. I also enjoy Martial Arts, studying Aikido and Kendo and hold the rank of Shodan in World Oyama Karate.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

James M. O'Donoghue When it comes to Screenwriters it is very hard for me to pick just one. Akira Kurosawa for not only his body of work but also for the inspiration he gave others. John Huston penned several classics. David Cronenberg and David Lynch are always exciting and edgy.

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

James M. O'Donoghue: There are several great Directors who are capable of making magic with a script. Having to choose just one I would have to go with Martin Scorsese. I have been enthralled by his film work for over 30 years. He has a beautiful eye for a Scene and a great sense of energy and flow in his work.

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

James M. O'Donoghue: Albert Finney would be my choice for the Actor I would most like to work with. In films such as "Under the Volcano" and "A Man of No Importance" Finney shows that the key to successful acting is honesty. Similar to writing a screenplay is understanding your characters, their goals and what makes them tick. Don’t play for the camera but for the truth. Alec Guinness, James Cagney and Laurence Olivier are truly legends.

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

James M. O'Donoghue: Buy "The Screenwriters Bible", watch lots of movies, buy lots of popcorn. Hey, you’re not goofing off or loafing – you’re researching. Write whatever comes to mind as it comes to mind; it’s the rewrites that count.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

James M. O'Donoghue: Next for me will hopefully be more of the same.

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

James M. O'Donoghue: Five years from now is a long time. I hope to be alive and well.


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