Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter Danny Howell

An interview with screenwriter Danny Howell regarding the Hollywood Symposium Writing Competition.

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

A: It's THE PAPER ROUTE, and this is the logline: To pay the rent demanded by his unemployed father, Paul, 15, must collect a very overdue paper bill from a dangerous redneck. Paul's efforts lead him to discover a way to escape his hard life - but to do so, he must face leaving his younger brother in the clutches of an abusive father.

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 contest was one of four that this particular script took the top prize in during a twelve month period from December 2002 to December 2003 -- which was pretty amazing to me. The script had placed in about a dozen contests before that, including the quarterfinals of Nicholl and a couple of second place finishes, but had never won a top prize. Then in a single year it won a Script Magazine Open Door contest, grand prize in the first Screen Arts Foundation contest that drew over 1100 entries, grand prize in American Accolades' contest, and the top prize in Hollywood Symposium. What attracted me to this contest was the credentials of the contest coordinator, Eric Edson (see their web site and click on "director", he's got a very impressive resume) and the fact that it has been around a few years. There are so many new contests out there it's scrary, and I've entered a few that turned out to be fly-by-night'ers -- so now, after learning the hard way, I lean toward entering established competitions.

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: This is a solid contest - they do what they promise, they pay promptly, they ship your software and certificate right away, and they publicize the results.

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

A: Not formally, in the sense of notes. But Eric Edson, the contest coordinator, also read my winning script and called me with his own feedback, which I really appreciated.

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

A: I received 10 "read requests" from producers as a result of winning the contest, mostly after Inktip (which the contest uses to promote the winners) sent out publicity on the results. Together with my three other contest wins during the same year, this win helped goose PAPER ROUTE up in the rankings on Moviebytes' site, as a reuslt of which I have received a number of additional requests for the script.

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

A: I started writing screenplays four years ago when I joined a screenwriting workshop run by Marc Lapadula, a screenwriting instructor who runs several such workshops in the D.C. and Philadelphia areas. All three of my completed screenplays have placed in contests, although PAPER ROUTE has been far and away the most successful.

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

A: It's funny, one contest that I finished second in actually suggested that folks get a P.O. box and a voice mail out there so people woudl think you live in L.A. when you write or leave messages. I think I'll stick with being honest about the fact that I live in McLean, Virginia.

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

A: I'm working on my fourth screenplay, and am busy revising PAPER ROUTE for a marketing push later this year.

Posted Sunday, April 11, 2004