NYC MIDNIGHT:Congratulations on winning the Screenwriting Championships 2009! Why did you enter the Screenwriting Championships?
David Bowman: Ironically, I saw a Craigslist ad posted by NYC Midnight seeking a freelance journalist to cover local participants in the Screenwriting Championships 2009. Writing about the competition didn’t particularly interest me, but when I clicked through to NYC Midnight’s website and read how the Screenwriting Championships worked, it looked like it would be incredibly fun to be a participant. My first impression was correct!
NYC MIDNIGHT: What was the most difficult aspect of the writing challenges for you: the deadline, the required genre, location and object assignments, or the 5 page limit?
David: The genre, location and object assignments were the most difficult aspect of the writing challenges. I found 48 hours to be ample time to put together a five-page screenplay, even with life’s other important considerations in play (e.g., family, work, social life). And although my initial drafts were almost always longer than five pages, the right amount of judicious trimming got things “lean and mean” in the nick of time. The toughest aspect by far was reconciling three seemingly incongruous elements – for example, Sci fi / sauna / kayak – into a story that did not seem contrived.
NYC MIDNIGHT:You received the genres of Romance, Fantasy, Sci-Fi and Open. What genres do you prefer writing and which assignments proved to be the most difficult?
David: Well, on the tough end, Sci-Fi was the most difficult, because I am much too character focused to want to spend any meaningful time learning about space, technology, etc. Fantasy seemed to come more naturally and allowed me to dig into the fanciful without having to worry about scientific credibility. I found Romance to be much easier than I’d imagined, having never written in that genre before. For the Open genre assignment, I chose Horror-Thriller, and to be honest, writing SCHIZOID scared the crap out of me. There’s something about the Horror-Thriller genre that gets my right brain going with wild abandon; it is hard for me to ignore that kind of visceral connection with the material, and I let it take me where I may not want to go. I am also a huge fan of romantic comedies.
NYC MIDNIGHT:We included a dedicated review forum where writers could share their scripts from the competition with each other and provide/receive feedback. Did you participate in the forums and/or get a chance to check out some of the screenplays that were posted? If so, what were some of your favorites?
David: Yes, I posted all four of my scripts there. I found the feedback to be helpful, especially when the focus is on story and character instead of more technical issues such as whether I should or shouldn’t use an occasional camera direction or how long or short my action paragraphs must be. I liked several of the scripts I read. One of my favorites was Faith Nelson’s first-round script, HUX HOLLOW, about the killer trees. Another favorite: THE CREEPING VINE, by Ryan Hash in the second round. Both left me buzzed and wanting more.
NYC MIDNIGHT:How did you get started as a writer? Where are you now in your writing career and what are your goals?
David: I started writing stories at the age of six. Off and on throughout my childhood and adult life, I have written in some form or another, although I haven’t called writing my career…at least, not yet. This week, I started Writers Boot Camp’s online professional membership and hope to complete several projects in the near future. Who knows what lies ahead?
NYC MIDNIGHT:Do you write on a regular basis? What is your general approach for writing a screenplay, from idea to final draft?
David: When I’m most productive, I have a regular schedule to which I strictly adhere. It doesn’t always work out that way. For nearly all of my screenplays, I write some form of a step outline, and I massage and fine tune it as much as I can before starting to write pages of the script. Occasionally I deviate from this method; for SCHIZOID, I was so short on time due to three holiday parties and other commitments that weekend, I literally wrote the logline and then launched into the screenplay with only the basic story in mind, and it just came together.
NYC MIDNIGHT:What are some of your favorite feature length screenplays? What writers have influenced your screenwriting?
David: NORTH BY NORTHWEST and DIE HARD are two of my favorite feature screenplays. Ernest Lehman (NORTH BY NORTHWEST) and several other writers who worked with Hitchcock between 1951 and 1965 have influenced me immensely.
NYC MIDNIGHT:Have you written any feature length screenplays?
David: Yes, I have written two unproduced feature screenplays, THE GOLD WISHERS and THE BEAST DOWN BELOW, which have gathered dust since the early 1990s. However, after a long hiatus from screenwriting, I now have several feature screenplays in the works at various stages; please stay tuned.
NYC MIDNIGHT:What advice do you have for aspiring writers looking to improve their screenwriting?
David: Entering competitions like the Screenwriting Championships is a great way to improve, because they force us to start and finish something in a short period of time. There’s little time for our left brains to get in the way! Aside from that, just keep writing what entertains you, and let others worry about whether it’s good or not.
NYC MIDNIGHT:Will you be back to defend your title in 2010?
David: I plan to be back, unless other projects make it impossible. It was a tremendously valuable experience for me.
Scripts by David Bowman
Challenge #1 (Romance / A wax museum / A bag of potato chips)
'Severed Head Overtures' by David Bowman LOGLINE - A man's sad fascination with the Wax Museum's chamber of horrors is no match for the wiles of a quirky woman bent on making him smile. (5 pages)
Challenge #2 (Fantasy / A 24 hour diner / A stretcher)
'This Side of Happyland' by David Bowman LOGLINE - A truck driver discovers magic in the young woman he's rescued from the side of a desert highway, and must decide whether to choose her world over his. (5 pages)
Challenge #3 (Sci-Fi / A sauna / A kayak)
'The Changing' by David Bowman LOGLINE - When an astronaut of a deep space mission returns to Earth 300 years in the future, a NASA medical officer rescues him from the clutches of the military to try and find some answers about his journey, leading to a most unexpected metamorphosis. (5 pages)
Challenge #4 (Open / A nursery / A wig)
'Schizoid' by David Bowman LOGLINE - When her troubled five-year-old daughter locks herself in the nursery, a mom fights to get inside before any
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