Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter Danny Howell

An interview with screenwriter Danny Howell regarding the Screen Arts Writing Competition.

Q: What's the title of the script you entered in this contest, and what's it about?

A: It's my first script, The Paper Route, a coming of age story about two brothers, age 15 and 11, trying to survive the pressure put on their relationship by their unemployed father, who makes the older boy pay rent on pain of being kicked out of the house.

Q: What made you enter this particular contest? Have you entered any other contests with this script? If so, how did you do?

A: This was a first-time contest, and I always feel like it's a gamble entering a brand new contest - if you look at recent examples like alpha omega, you can see that sometimes the sponsor just disappears. This particular contest was marketed very aggressively, though, and I ultimately decided to enter after I received three or four e mail solicitations. The Paper Route has placed in over a dozen contests, and has taken the top prize in four of them in the past year. Screen Arts was the second of those four wins.

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: They paid me right away, and they marketed my win as aggressively as they marketed the contest itself. They also stayed in good contact with me afterward in terms of referring script requests and answering questions. Finally, they were conscientious about making sure, just before they announced the winners, that my script was still eligible (i.e. hadn't yet been optioned, etc.).

Q: Were you given any feedback on your script? If so, did you find the feedback helpful?

A: Not from this contest, but then they didn't offer that. Informally, the contest coordinator did give me some feedback, which was similar to that I've gotten from the other contests I've won -- that Paper Route is a tough sell commercially, but the judges picked it anyway because they really liked the story, and the writing.

Q: Has your success in this contest helped you market your script? Were you contacted by any agents, managers or producers?

A: This contest win generated more requests from my script (20+) than any other contest I have won, and the quality of the requesters was very high - top agencies, HBO Films, Warner Bros TV, Tony Bill, etc. etc.

Q: What's your background? Have you written any other screenplays or television scripts?

A: I'm a litigation partner in the northern Virginia office of a law firm based in Richmond, Virginia. I have finished two other scripts, a slacker comedy/horror called Meat Eaters, and a psychological drama/horror called Visions. All three scripts are set in the hill country of southern Indiana, a place I grew up in and experienced as every bit as spooky as Steven King's Maine.

Q: Do you live in Los Angeles? If not, do you have any plans to move there?

A: Gosh, no, I'm toughing it out in the Washington D.C. area.

Q: What's next? Are you working on a new script?

A: My current project is a romantic mystery called Remember Me. I'm finally writing a story about grown-ups.

Posted Wednesday, December 17, 2003