American Gem 2007 Short Screenplay Competition - THE CLIMB
  American Gem Short Screenplay Competition
2007 WINNERS  

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Jason W. McKinnon

Fourth Place Winner

Jason W. McKinnon
of Toronto, ON

Jason McKinnon was born in Sudbury, Ontario in 1983. He currently lives in Toronto and works in sports broadcasting as a video editor. Jason began writing at a very young age and grew up writing scripts and creating short films. Screenwriting quickly became his passion and hasnít let go of him since. He continues to work full time in television and writes at every possible free moment.


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

I canít remember a time when I didnít want to be a screenwriter. Maybe it was the minute I finished my first script. Iíve been addicted since that moment so Iíll go with that.

I know I've succeeded.......  

When I finish a script and immediately begin thinking about my next project.

My inspiration to write THE CLIMB.......

I was thinking about how someone could escape that situation. Where would they start? What challenges would they face? The story really took off when I created the female lead. She faces the same challenges yet approaches them very differently. She represents both the inspiration and the main obstacle for Cameron. In a sense she was the inspiration.




FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Jason W. McKinnon: Iíve always loved to write. I enjoy the work that goes into developing a story and the dedication it takes to complete a script. Iím a massive fan of the simple fact that I can always improve. Every script I write is something entirely new. I love having that freedom.

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

Jason W. McKinnon: My first script was horrendous. At 14 years old, I bought a bunch of books about screenwriting and got to work. A few months later I had a script to be proud of. Except the story was terrible and I still cringe when I read it today. However, if it werenít for that first plunge I would have never gone out to find more books. Iíve been continually educating myself since.

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

Jason W. McKinnon: This isnít my first script. I got the idea for ĎThe Climbí last summer (2006) while I was adjusting to my new career in broadcasting and I developed it for a month or so. The actual script took a few weeks once all the leg work was done.

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

Jason W. McKinnon: My routine is actually pretty weird. When I start a new script the first thing I usually do is change my work space around. For some reason it helps me to write with a different configuration of furniture. I do most of my research and development at the library and then write whenever I can between shifts.

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

Jason W. McKinnon: I only recently began to show people my work. Until a few years ago, my scripts would make their way through my family and friends and then collect dust on a shelf. Slowly, I started to let other people read them and really embraced the process of listening to opinions about my work. Iíve learned more about telling a story through that process than any other. For someone like me with little exposure, a competition is the perfect place to get your material out there.

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

Jason W. McKinnon: American Gem appealed to me because of their enthusiastic approach to helping aspiring screenwriters. I am an aspiring screenwriter and Iím annoyingly enthusiastic so I felt it was worth a shot.

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

Jason W. McKinnon: The script for The Matrix was great. It was definitely a big influence on me. It taught me how to be clear about what people will see. That film couldnít have been easy to describe in writing and their descriptions alone are worth the price of admission. If you havenít seen the movie yet, grab the script first and then compare.

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

Jason W. McKinnon: I love sports. Iíll always write regardless of any success that comes my way. If I had to choose a backup plan, Iíd be playing point for the RaptorsÖ Since thatís not going to happen, sports broadcasting blends both of my passions really well. It also gives me time to write and Iím completely okay with that.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Jason W. McKinnon: My favorite screenwriter is Paul Haggis. Iíve loved every project he has been attached to for years. His work is diverse and always entertaining. I hope to achieve the same diversity in my work and tackle different genres and subjects. I also love M. Night Shyamalanís work. ĎSignsí was a huge influence on me.

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

Jason W. McKinnon: Iíd love to work with any of my favorite screenwriters mentioned above. Ridley Scott would be another. Clint Eastwood would be amazing to talk to let alone work with.

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

Jason W. McKinnon: Will Smith. I have to admit, Iím a massive Will Smith fan. Iíve been a big fan of his for years and still watch his films regularly.

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

Jason W. McKinnon: Donít be afraid to show people your work. Iím still hesitant but itís slowly getting easier.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Jason W. McKinnon: Well, I just changed my room around again. Iím going to rewrite/update some old shorts and hammer out a few new ones. Then I plan to start a feature Iíve been thinking about for a while. I havenít written one in a year or two and Iím pumped to get going. Actually Ďpumpedí is an understatement.

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

Jason W. McKinnon: Five years from now, Iíll still be writing as much as possible and hopefully have a couple produced and enjoyed by many.


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