American Gem 2007 Short Screenplay Competition - QUALITY TIME
  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.......  

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 QUALITY TIME.......

My widowed mother got remarried and moved into a retirement community. The retirement community just opened my eyes to a whole different universe. I became interested in exploring the theme of "living with death as a way of rebirth."




FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Ken Kristensen: I learned to love reading at a young age. After that, storytelling just came naturally.

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

Ken Kristensen:  I found the script for The Stunt Man on the DVD. I love that movie. So I read the script out of curiosity, and studying it gave me confidence to write my first feature script.

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

Ken Kristensen: I've written many scripts, both shorts and features. This script took about three days to write a first draft.

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: Competition is a great motivator and barometer. I like the fact that a script competition gives me a deadline and bit of an indication as to how the work measures up.

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

Ken Kristensen: It has reputable backers, it's not too expensive to enter, and it has cash prizes.

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

Ken Kristensen: JFK by Oliver Stone. It's incredibly complex, mixes genres, dozens of characters and subplots, and the most artful use of exposition. A work of jaw-dropping genius.

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

Ken Kristensen: Journalism and documentary filmmaking. There's a purity of truth in both that you can't get from any other source.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Ken Kristensen: Alvin Sergant. From Paper Moon to Ordinary People, to Spider-man 2, this guy can write truthfully about all walks of life and he understands friendship, love, and rivalry better than most.

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

Ken Kristensen: Tim Burton. Burton's sense of humor and dark themes speak to much of my work. His style is unparalleled.

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

Ken Kristensen: Denzel Washington. He's a force of nature who makes everything around him rise to another level of greatness.

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

Ken Kristensen: The thing I've learned is that the more you write the better you get. Don't spend years on one script. Finding your voice as a writer takes a lot of writing and you need to move on to the next script in order to find it.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Ken Kristensen: I'm now trying to raise financing for one of my features and get another feature into the hands of the right producers and actors.

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

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


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