An interview with screenwriter Susan Klos regarding the Chicago ScriptWorks Writing Competition.Q: What's the title of the script you entered in this contest, and what's it about?
A: VOICES. Inspired by true events, it is the story of a single mother, Rose Hamel, struggling to balance a business and a new romance with family life when her daughter, Zoey's, increasingly strange behavior is diagnosed as schizophrenia. Ultimately, Rose must choose between the love of her life and the life of her child. My story is especially apropos with all the negative media attention mental illness has been receiving lately. I hope it will educate an audience to better understand and empathize with the mentally ill. Zoey is a rich character with tremendous audience appeal. The mentally ill are not all homicaidal maniacs like on "Law and Order" and "CSI."Q: What made you enter this particular contest? Have you entered any other contests with this script? If so, how did you do?
A: The prize was a staged reading of my screenplay. I look for contests with feedback to help me improve my forever evoling and being tweeked script. What better feedback than to hear your script read (and performed) on stage? Also, this was a great excuse to visit Chicago. It was my first time and I loved it!Q: Were you satisfied with the adminstration of the contest? Did they meet their deadlines? Did you receive all the awards that were promised?
A: Yes, yes, and yes! The reading blew me away. The people involved, especially producer Vera Brooks, director Gregory Gerhard and all the actors were enthusiatic, professional and passionate about the reading. It was a very ambitious endeavor and a truly memorable event for me.Q: Were you given any feedback on your script? If so, did you find the feedback helpful?
A: The audience was small but insightful. I came away will a renewed sense of excitement about my project and some fresh ideas to better my story. The following evening, I met with the cast and crew for a "post-mortem" and they provided me with more valuable insights. I also received an audio tape of the reading and written feedback from the audience.Q: Has your success in this contest helped you market your script? Were you contacted by any agents, managers or producers?
A: No, but I wasn't looking at the time. I am finally fairly confident in the caliber of my script and attempting to package and develop VOICES myself. I have a lawyer, so I don't feel I need an agent or manager. But I am looking for producing partners and financing. Wish me luck.Q: What's your background? Have you written any other screenplays or television scripts?
A: I have no writing background, in fact I flunked freshman English in college, but I had a story I wanted to tell and it came out in the form of my screenplay. My first drafts were horrendous - my characters were actually ordering food at the table, a full page of it. I didn't know about the enter late, leave early rule. Anyway, I eventually read some books and attended some seminars which were extremely helpful. Entering contests and receiving feedback was crucial to the further development of VOICES. BTW - I work professionally in the film business. I am owner of a post production facility in West Los Angeles called Big Time Picture Company, Inc.Q: Do you live in Los Angeles? If not, do you have any plans to move there?
A: Yep. Moved here from New York thirty years ago.Q: What's next? Are you working on a new script?
A: VOICES was a cathartic release for me. I had events in my life I needed to come to terms with, so I wrote this script. It became a compulsion - an itch I just had to scratch...all the time. I've had enough of the "eureka" middle of the night wakeups, deciphering cryptic notes on paper scraps and exposing my heart and soul on the page for now. I would, however, consider adapting a great book or story or perhaps find a writing partner, but I'm happy having my life back for now.