American Gem 2007 Short Screenplay Competition - SON OF A...
  American Gem Short Screenplay Competition
2007 WINNERS  

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Ken Kristensen

Eighth Place Winner

Ken Kristensen
of Los Angeles CA
Romantic Comedy

A journalist and graphic novelist, Ken Kristensen is currently a full-time Graduate Film Division student at Columbia University. In October 2007 Ken was selected to attend the Talent Campus at the Reykjavik International Film Festival. His screenplay Inside Out was a finalist in the 2007 Vail Film Festival and SoCal Film Festival.

La Muerte es Pequeña, a short co-written by Ken, was a regional finalist in the 2006 Student Academy Awards and an Official Selection at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. In 2006 Ken’s feature script Osage County was selected the Sundance Institute Producer’s Lab. In 2005 he won the Columbia University Best Television Writer Award.


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

I knew I wanted to be a screenwriter........ When I was sitting on a beach on a Greek island and every time I closed my eyes I pictured myself sitting at my computer in my tiny apartment writing a script.

I know I've succeeded.......  

If I can make a living writing.

My inspiration to write SON OF A..........

came from the savage exploitation of "patriotism" for selfish gain.




FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Ken Kristensen: I fell at love with reading at a very young age. Writing came naturally after that.

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

Ken Kristensen:  My preparation for the first script I ever wrote was an unconscious process--I'd found the pdf of the script for The Stunt Man on the dvd. I
love the movie and so I printed out the script and read it a few times. Studying that screenplay gave me the confidence to tell the story I wanted to tell at that time.

FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script and how long did it take you to write SON OF A...?

Ken Kristensen: Wrote the first draft in a few hours. I've written many scripts over the last five years. This is probably my 15th short film script.

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

Ken Kristensen: I like to write outdoors if possible, or in cafes. Usually I'm most prolific when I'm reclining on the front porch. I can write any time of day, but the most productive time is late in the day or at night when the tide is low on
distractions like email.

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

Ken Kristensen: Putting yourself in competition with others drives you, gives you deadlines, forces you to re-evaluate flawed work.

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

Ken Kristensen: It had respectable credentials, some prize money, not too expensive to enter.

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

Ken Kristensen: One of the most complex scripts is "JFK" by Oliver Stone---amazing. It blends so many genres, tackles important issues, and is masterful in its handling of exposition.

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

Ken Kristensen: My family and friends -- it's the stuff that shapes me and my work.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Ken Kristensen: Alvin Sergeant. His range of  work blows my mind, from Paper Moon to Ordinary People to Spider-man 2. He understands relationships from all walks of life.

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

Ken Kristensen: Tim Burton. His style, the combination of darkness and humor, is something that fits much of what I write, and he does it at a higher level than any other director.

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

Ken Kristensen: Tom Hanks. The power of his presence on screen makes everything around him better.

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

Ken Kristensen: Keep writing and if no one wants to produce it, do it yourself. Put your work out there for people to read and watch. The internet is the great equalizer. And don't spend years on one script, move on. The more scripts you write the more you develop your voice.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Ken Kristensen:  I'm raising financing for one of my low budget features and sending out my latest feature to actors and producers. Meanwhile, I'm starting a new feature.

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

Ken Kristensen: Writing, directing and producing for a living.


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