I knew I wanted to be a screenwriter........
I always liked reading and envisioned myself
writing a novel but when I sat down to write, I noticed I was watching the
story play out as a movie in my head. I figured it might make more sense to
try writing a script. So I did.
I know I've succeeded........
Since Iíve yet to make a film Iím not sure I
have! I do feel incremental flashes of success whenever one of my scripts
receives positive feedback from an industry expert or places in the quarter,
semi or finals of a screenwriting contest. I remember when A Different Kind of
Rain kept inching up the ranks in the Page International Screenplay
competition and finally landed in the finals out of 3400 scripts. I figured I
must have some inherent, raw talent or it would never have made it that far.
My inspiration to write A DIFFERENT KIND OF RAIN.......
Initially it was an ex-boyfriend that did me
wrong. I started writing the story of a bitter, angry woman but the ex was
hardly worth the energy and my venom faded after a couple of pages. I mellowed
the angry woman and started playing with the idea of a character whoís wedged
herself in a bad place. That character became Tess. Once I had a main
character, A Different Kind of Rain became an exploration of how people do or
donít get themselves out of bad places in their lives and what it takes to get
on a better track. Once I had Tessís character locked and loaded, the true
inspiration of the script became my mother. She died several years ago at the
too young age of 69. I wrote ADKR as a tribute to her. My mom had a fun-loving
spirit, nurturing warmth and a belief that everything works out. She became
Molly. I wanted to honor the youth that percolates in older people and show
the positive power a person can have in a fellow human beingís life.
What inspired you to write?
Heather Ferrell: I have all these characters and stories
swirling in my head. I have to write.
FilmMakers Magazine: What did you do to prepare yourself to write your first script?
What did you do to prepare yourself to write your first script? I read
a book on screenwriting and took an online class with Gotham Writerís
Workshop. After I had a basic understanding of the screenwriting
format I just started writing.
FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script and how long did it take you to complete?
Heather Ferrell: Is
this your first script and how long did it take you to complete? This
is my first script. Iíve been working on ADKR on and off for about
five years. To be honest, Iím not sure it is completed- it still feels
like a work in progress.
FilmMakers Magazine: Do you have a set routine, place and time management for writing?
A few years ago I quit my job to travel the world, volunteer and
write. For over a year I had a fairly set routine where Iíd get up,
exercise, drink coffee then write uninterrupted for several hours. I
wrote everyday and it was fantastic. Iím no longer gainfully
self-unemployed and consequently, have to wedge writing in around my
day job, social life, and errands.
FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests are important for aspiring
screenwriters and why?
I do. I think contests help a writer work toward a deadline. In
addition, the contests that provide industry coverage give invaluable
feedback that can be used during the next rewrite. It is also
affirming when your script gets a quarter, semi or finalist nod.
FilmMakers Magazine: What influenced you to enter the
FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards?
Most screenwriting competitions give writers a chance to win prizes
and money. Thatís cool but what writerís REALLY want is for someone to
make their script into a film. Filmmakers awards prizes and money but
more importantly, it gives writers exposure to industry personnel who
can actually take the script from the page to the screen. That
exposure sets Filmmakers apart.
FilmMakers Magazine: What script would you urge aspiring writers to read and why?
I just finished the Coen brothers ďBurn After ReadingĒ and I was
impressed. I havenít seen the movie but I LOVED the script. It was
lean, ripe with zippy characters, witty, and I couldnít put it down. I
read the script in one setting and thought ďTHIS is how Iím supposed
to do itĒ.
FilmMakers Magazine: Beside screenwriting what are you passionate about and why?
I wish I could list a bunch of causes and present myself in a more
socially conscious way but alas, aside from a few Third World
volunteer trips, my passions are self-indulgent. I travel, ride my
horse, do the occasional triathlon, spend time with friends and
family, and of course, read, write and watch movies. I do my best to
live a remarkable ordinary life.
FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter
Iím going to have to toss Joel and Ethan Coen out again. I just find
their style to be so concise, witty and twisted. Iíve read Fargo and
Burn After Reading and find their scripts as pleasurable to read as
they are to watch. And thatís coming from someone who generally does
not enjoy movies with raw violence where lots of people die. They are
FilmMakers Magazine: Name the director you would love to work with and why?
Christine Jeffs. She took a quirky premise, in Sunshine Cleaning and
brought the story and characters to life in a very believable way.
Magazine: Name the actor you would love to work with and why?
I saw Kelly MacDonald in The Merry Gentleman (Michael Keatonís
directorial debut) and was blown away by the strength and beauty of
her achingly quiet performance. I think Kelly would be fantastic as
Tess in A Different Kind of Rain!
FilmMakers Magazine: Any tips and things learned along the way to pass on to others?
Iím still learning myself! What is clear to me- writing is a skill. It
can be learned. All writers need to continue to exercise the writing
muscles by writing. Entering contests, reading scripts, and watching
movies also help develop the skills.
FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?
Iím currently working on two comedy features, a short and the Novel
for A Different Kind of Rain.
FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from now?
Writing full time I hope.