These guys? These guys are pretty good guys. So for you guys, here’s these guys, in no particular order (OR IS IT SO PARTICULAR THAT YOUR HEAD IS NOW SPINNING?):
“Claire has had six short films produced in the past four years that have been all over the world and won audience and jury prizes. Despite enjoying this immensely it hasn’t led to a successfully completed feature script (or any money) so far. She has written in a range of genres (comedy, drama, horror, action, and science fiction) focusing on female characters who actually do meaningful stuff, and usually pretty disturbing stuff too. In her spare time, Claire is a mother of two and a research scientist in robotics and artificial intelligence.”
So Claire is one of my Intrigues, and I deem her as such in the absolute best possible way. She has a lot of experience telling stories and telling them well, but little so far in the realm of writing features…which, I must admit, was a daunting factor in considering her. But I chose her anyway. She feels…steeped in nerd wisdom and life experience to me. Also, did you see that she works in robotics and AI????? SOLD. I think this is going to be a great challenge for her and I think we’re all going to learn a lot watching. You can find her on Twitter at @clairedeste.
“Hey, I’m Emily. I’m a recent grad of Emerson College. Well, it was over a year ago, but if I keep saying ‘recent’ I feel less stressed about where I am in life. I live a glamorous existence in LA, meaning I live forty miles outside of LA in my parents’ house. We have cable, though. This past year I’ve been writing a little bit of everything: depressing journal entries (one of which ended up as the first draft of the one-pager I submitted to Geoff), Facebook statuses that my parents’ friends like to comment ‘Are you okay?’ on, and scripts. Lots of scripts.
In my spare time I enjoy not going outside, complaining to my parents that there’s nothing to eat in the house, and thinking about Chris Pratt.
My twitter name is @emirrybolswick. But I am used to having zero followers and using it as a place to write things that are too weird for the Facebook crowd, so feel free to never look at my page. Really. Don’t look at it.”
In her Submission, Emily spoke pretty openly about being 23 but still feeling like she was 8, sort of feeling the urge to APPEAR an adult while simultaneously feeling that she has nothing in common with grown-ups. As I’m 35 and often feel the same way, this was a shot right to my heart. She also spoke about this time in her life when she has no idea what to do or who to be, and again, I remember that time of my life very well. I think it’s an easily-dismissed but fertile breeding ground for ideas and emotions, and as funny as Emily is, I think she has a great shot at capturing that in a VERY entertaining way.
Jesse Federman & Jerren Lauder
“Jesse Federman exploded onto the scene in 2nd grade when his short story ‘Murder King’ (about an evil fast-food restaurant) was awarded 3rd place in a district-wide elementary-school writing competition. He then retreated from the public eye to focus on his other passions: becoming a member of the legendary Bones Brigade skateboarding team and professional soccer. Due to faulty equipment and politics, he eventually abandoned both pursuits and returned to writing. He later attended film school at Boston University where he earned a degree in Screenwriting which, if you don’t have one, you should get one. He lives in Los Angeles and can be found on Twitter (@jessefederman) or at his Peabody Award winning blog, whatsinfedshead.tumblr.com.
Jerren went to film school in Fullerton, CA, thinking he would be Terrence Malick. Years later, after several NON award-winning short films, he can confidently say about that period of time: ‘Whoops.’ Along the way, he interned at Sundance and made zero networking connections. Now he reads and re-reads the book How to Make Yourself Better: an Introduction to Android Robotics while working in post-production, mainlining any and all movies he can. He’s honored to now be writing with Jesse (author of ‘Murder King’). They’ve made several internet shorts together, including ‘VGPD: 8-Bit Detectives,’ an original animated series for Machinima. Jerren cannot be found on the internet.”
The first thing I noticed about these guys is that they’re genuinely funny. But even more impressive than that…it’s tough to tell where one stops writing and the other starts, which is exactly the kind of thing you’re looking for with a writing team. Which is strange, considering their Submission talked a lot about how much they initially hated each other. I feel like these two are on the cusp of really breaking through. They feel more “ready” than anyone else in the group.
“I’d never even considered screenwriting until a few months ago, which is surprising because I’ve always naturally been drawn to jobs that 1) seemed too interesting to be real, and 2) would probably never pay my bills. Previously I’ve been everything from a paid audience member of a reality court TV show to the manager of a porn store. (Favorite skin flick title? Gotta say it’s a tie between ‘Pacific Rimmers’ and ‘Saving Ryan’s Privates’.) For a brief, terrifying while I was actually selling knives door to door. (Friday is Casual Bring-the-Instrument-of-Your-Own-Demise-to-Work Day.)
Part of me feels like I really only have a month to write this spec. My in-laws from the UK will be visiting the first two weeks in October, so I’ll be pretty busy doing my American Wife shtick – aggressively clapping everybody on the back, not cooking, etc. But I have no life whatsoever to distract me in the meantime so I’m confident I’ll be able to finish anyway. I did warn my husband I might not be talking to him very much for the next few weeks. He took it hard, poor guy. He couldn’t even bring himself to remove his headphones or look in my direction.
Wish me luck everyone! My twitter handle is @RachelWoolley83. Because my name is Rachel Woolley and I’m 83 years old.”
So listen: Rachel terrifies me. This is as blankly a shot in the dark as firing a bullet in a non-lit area can be. She’s admittedly not been interested in screenwriting for very long, which rarely ends well as far as first scripts are concerned. She wrote this really weird Submission about how she’s obsessed with signs and how she was once attacked by a monkey at a zoo. I tried, honestly, like ten times to sort her Submission into the “Reluctant Pass” folder, but I never could. Why? She’s too entertaining and too untarnished by typical screenwriting bullshit and she just makes me laugh. So fuck it. Feels well worth a go-round to me.
“Damian O’Neil, 48 year old broadcast journalist living in North-East England with partner, 2 cats and elderly VW Bus. Regional reporter for BBC TV and Radio. Some of the biggest stories to emerge in the UK in recent years have happened in my patch and I was there to cover them.
Grew up in UK, communist Europe, Middle and Far East. Done more job-type jobs than I can remember. Playing Guitar, fishing for salmon and climbing Cumbrian Fells are just three of the many honeypot distractions that line up to stop me from doing my Work. Sometimes I win, more times they win.
There is an itch that cannot be scratched by the wrong hand any more than a starving dog can be fed with a rubber bone.”
There is something hardscrabble and grizzled and decidedly British about the way Damian writes, and God help me if I didn’t just fall for it head over heels like a bob-haired tween at her first sight of the Beatles. In his Submission, he spoke openly about a failed first marriage, the highs and lows of globetrotting, and the specter of pushing age 50 without having attained that one thing, that only thing, you really wanted to. Though I’m not sure he feels the same himself, he gave me the feeling that he’s *just* in the right frame of mind to finally write something that ties his hefty collection of life experiences together. And I can’t wait to see what he comes up with. He can be found on Twitter at @DamianONeilBBC.
“Hello all, I’m Louis, lovely to meet you. I’ve been asked by Geoff to provide a short bio of myself. I work at one of those places that use that icebreaker where you have to say a few things about yourself, and people have to guess which one isn’t true. Because I am a creature of habit:
A. At the moment of my birth, the tallest tree in the local cemetery split asunder.
B. When I was 9, I won a school art award. For my prize I chose a dinosaur book, because I’m not a fucking idiot.
C. When I was 17, I put on a big show and dance production for the entire school. I came second. Out of two. I lost.
D. By the time I was 28, I had moved to New York from London, I had got married, and I had four scripts to my name.
E. When I found out I had been selected, I ate a shit ton of $2 tacos.
Follow me on Twitter @Lou_Bennett to find out the answer…it’s not A…
Some of you on Twitter may remember me cackling about a Submission I received that basically said, “Here’s why I want to write this script: revenge.” Well, that was Louis’s. Here’s the thing, and maybe I’m the only one willing to admit this: I think wanting/exacting revenge is healthy and a worthwhile expenditure of your time on this Earth. So kudos, Louis. His missive stuck with me through the whole process and continued to crack me up. If he can script as funny as he writes prose, he’ll be in damn good shape.
Christopher Hills Eaton
“Christopher Hills Eaton believes there is nothing wrong with cultivating a little character. Experience breeds knowledge. So Chris picked strawberries and filed legal briefs. He’s washed dishes for a sorority and sold framed artwork out of the back of his car. He’s an artist and an acrobat. But storytelling, and writing, has always been Chris’ passion.
With a handful of spec scripts under his belt, Chris is eager to explore this creative challenge while navigating a newly established life in Los Angeles.
Here’s the thing: Christopher wasn’t crazy forthcoming in details about himself in his Submission, but that’s OK. Because what he spoke to about his life and his experiences was more than enough to make believe that he can tell one hell of a story. He’s led such a varied and, it seems, hyperambulatory life that he has several human existences worth of travels to pull from. His bio is, I think, almost tantalizingly short. I have no idea where he’s going to go with all of this but I’m totally fascinated to look through his lens on the world.
“Dan Johnson is a recent Radio, TV, and Film graduate from Northwestern University. While there, he spent his time focused on screenwriting, student filmmaking, and leisure. In the fall of 2013 he interned for the Onion, America’s Finest News Source, and now works as the Onion News Network’s Writers’ Assistant, where he is surrounded by immensely talented people that, deep down, truly scare him. In his free time he enjoys college basketball, Malört, and shopping for office supplies. He’s extremely excited and humbled to be a part of this adventure and is really hoping this was supposed to be written in the third person.
You can find him at his newly-minted Twitter account, @DanSHJohnson.”
Dan reminds me of a younger me, although for his sake I hope he’s on a decent diet and much better looking. They don’t hire just anyone to work at THE ONION, and Dan’s Submission did nothing to sway me from the notion that he deserves to be there. Maybe he’s a little green, sure, but again…I like the notion that, as far as writing a screenplay, he’s probably not had cynicism beat into him so wretchedly. Yet. There are a lot of ways that Dan feels like the “safe” choice of the group to me, and I couldn’t mean that as a higher compliment. He’s just flat-out funny, which is only going to be a problem if he’s writing a script about baby cancer. And even THEN maybe not.
“Hey guys, I’m Delaney McNeil. I’m 22 years old and recently graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a major in English and a minor in Film. I currently live with my mom, step-dad, two brothers, two cats, and one dog in Mexico, Missouri. Yes, Mexico is a real town in the state of Missouri and yes, I really live here. I’m super excited to be representing MexMo in this Six Week Spec… And I know I’m representing Mexico because I unfortunately know every single person in this town and none of them are involved with this. Recently, I’ve been working a lot and saving up money to move literally anywhere else. And by ‘working a lot,’ I really just find money in my brother’s truck or I offer to run errands for my parents and then ‘forget’ to give them their change back.
Other random things… I don’t know if I’ll ever like a movie as much as I like Rear Window. I’m allergic to everything. I dyed my hair once and spent two days in the hospital. Strange things like that happen to me all the time, which is why self-deprecating humor is kind of my thing. It’s all too easy for me. Also, I have this insane, irrational fear of birds. I have no idea where it came from. Maybe Hitchcock? All I know is they scare the living fucking shit out of me. When I was eight, I was the lead singer and songwriter of a band called ‘Zero Gravity’. We broke up after my band mates didn’t want to practice at recess anymore. I’m still getting over the disappointment. My parents and brothers have unanimously voted me the ‘Black Sheep’ of our family. I have no idea why.
Oh, and I can be found on Twitter @anirishwhiskey.”
Honestly, I think Delaney held back in her bio a bit, and just as honestly, I’m tickled pink because I don’t think you guys are going to see her coming. I wrote on Twitter about how she basically threw out margins in order to get nearly 1000 words into her Submission, which made me giggle on its own, but what I didn’t write then was how wickedly, meanly funny her piece was and how much I enjoyed getting it at nearly the last minute. She’d apparently just pulled some kind of redneck sorcery to get her parents to agree to float her while she submitted to screenplay competitions this Summer. I begged her not to do so and to write for this experiment instead. I’m exceptionally glad she decided to come along with us.
“Marginally impressive stuff:
–Born and raised in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Sri Lankan by ethnicity. Studied at University of Melbourne, Australia. Married a Sri Lankan. Now living in Colorado.
–Was a member of the first all-female stand-up comedy troupe, Funny Girls.
–Was a member of the first improvisational troupe in the Middle East, Improv Revolution
–Eight shorts, four ‘finished’ but not ‘polished’ features (I’ll finish at least three of those, I promise). One short produced, but died in post-production.
–P.A’ed on a reality TV show, a TV commercial; was assistant director on the failed short.
–Was in corporate communications for money and sometimes for love.
Coolest things that have ever happened to me:
–Making the second round of the Sundance Screenwriters Labs (currently ongoing)
–Being among Geoff LaTulippe’s Selected Ten.
Not so impressive but interesting stuff:
–Favorite movies (for now): The Odd Couple. Death at a Funeral. Alien. Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back (of course).
–Frighteningly good at baking.
–Cries at the drop of a hat (so don’t drop a hat).
–Awfully nice, until someone mentions gender or racial politics.
Also, I can speak four languages at varying levels of proficiency (English, Tamil, Hindi, French).
Sabina kept it light in her bio, which is great, but her Submission stuck out to me more than most. She’s basically a unicorn in the writing world – a non-American Muslim woman – but beyond that, she expressed something that I found at once both upsetting and all too personally familiar: that not writing this script would mean she was a coward. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, but it’s a sentiment that all writers stare down the barrel of at one time or another, and Sabina hesitated not one iota in expressing it. She also made a point that, where she used to run from the highs and lows of life, she’s now embracing them. If she channels all of that into the right script, you’re going to be hearing a lot more from her.