When we created the range of rewards available to people who sponsor our short fantasy-drama Stop/Eject, we wanted to offer collaboration – we wanted to share our skills. One such reward is Script Editor. In return for a £20 donation you can have your short screenplay (up to 15 pages) read by Tommy Draper, Stop/Eject’s co-writer, with constructive critical feedback. Just click the button below to make your contribution and claim this reward.
I recently interviewed Tommy about his current projects and his thoughts on writing.
How did you get into screenwriting?
Tommy: I got into screenwriting quite a few years ago after posting my first short screenplay online on the website SimplyScripts.com. The screenplay was called ‘Same Room Same Time’ and it was read by Miguel Gaudêncio who wanted to make it (at the time he was looking to take the step from commercials and music videos into movies). It took several years but the movie was released into film festivals in 2008 and from there more contacts were made and more movies (shorts and features) have been produced.
What are you working on at the moment?
Tommy: At the moment I have 2 short films in pre-production with Hamburg based director Sascha Zimmermann. I have been working with Sascha since 2009 and over the last few years we have ended up with a backlog of screenplays we want to make. We are starting with two that are ready to go and I am about to work on new drafts of three other screenplays so these can be made in 2013 (and 2014 if necessary). My zombie feature film Wasteland is a day or two away from finishing filming by Derby based Light Films Ltd, when this is complete I will be talking to the Producer and Director about what project we want to work on next. I am talking to Stop/Eject producer Sophie Black about a feature film screenplay that she has written and would like me to come on board to rewrite, this project is in its infancy and will be worked on during 2013. In addition to all of this I have a feature film script of mine called ‘Rock n Roll Romantics’ which I have been planning on writing for quite some time and I am getting the script ready in-between projects.
Why is it important to for a writer to get impartial feedback?
Tommy: Feedback for a writer on their screenplay is very very important, a fresh pair of eyes can make all the difference. Everyone sees the story and characters in a different way so the feedback you get can identify faults or create new and interesting paths that can take your story from good to great. Getting feedback that is totally impartial is also very tough. A lot of people, especially if they know you, won’t tell you exactly what they think. A lot of the time it is more important for someone to point to out what doesn’t work more than point out what does and the best people to give you this kind of honest feedback is someone who doesn’t know you at all.
What is the most useful feedback you’ve ever received on one of your scripts?
Tommy: The most useful feedback I’ve ever received was on an old screenplay I wrote for Miguel Gaudêncio. The screenplay was written prior to Same Room Same Time getting made and after a few drafts Miguel got an established writer friend of his to take a look at it. I received a fair share of positives and negatives about the script but it was the negatives about the first act not working that helped the most. It was too long, gave away too much and made the screenplay drag. I took the suggestions and chopped out lots of scenes from the opening section (at the time I was reluctant to do this not seeing the issues) and the screenplay really took shape. I then went through the rest of the screenplay looking for cuts to make and a much leaner screenplay evolved which worked a lot better.
In your opinion, what is the best-written movie ever and why?
Tommy: Tough question this as there are so many brilliant screenplays out there. If I had to pick one movie then it has to be Reservoir Dogs. I think the script is extremely clever, the structure of the story with its flashbacks to give the characters depth is amazing. I also love that the you never see the robbery but you know exactly what happened and what went wrong. The best thing about it are the characters themselves, each one rich and totally individual. You understand their motivation and once wound up they play out their role in an honest, unforced way, which is hard skill but Tarantino masters that in all his movies. Reservoir Dogs was the first time I had seen a movie and then read the screenplay, it has been a massive inspiration on me ever since.