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Interview with screenwriter Brandon Ingram

  • What is the first story you ever wrote?

I remember writing a pretty cringy story in 4th grade about my dog and I. I loved my dog Betsie growing up; that’s not the cringey part at all. What was cringy was how the story ended with me closing a book, and that book happened to be the story being told until this point, as most of the story was me narrating events. From that point in the story, I had this book and my dog on my lap as I sat in a rocking chair by a fire. I don’t remember what I had said in the story at the end, but I remember in the story that I looked down at my dog in my lap and saying to her, “Isn’t that right, Betsie?”, and my dog replied, “Ruff Ruff!”… My concluding words in my first story were, “Ruff Ruff!”… Best way to describe my early writing.

  • Growing up, what movies or stories inspired your creative passion?

I think the largest inspiration for my creative passion came from The Twilight Zone. I have always loved sci-fi and horror, and The Twilight Zone was the perfect way for me to see these types of stories with a beginning and end in a 22-minute fashion. Not only that, when it came to writing, I learned a lot from The Twilight Zone and Rod Serling’s work. Most episodes were low budget, as they mostly took place in one location and didn’t always have the best effects and sets. The thing is though, each episode was extremely compelling and had you forget the effects and sets because of how great the stories were. Even though I like writing just about any genre or script length, I will credit The Twilight Zone for my love of writing horror shorts the most.

  • For an unknown writer, what is the best way to get their screenplay seen?

As an unknown writer myself, I can’t give the best advice on this. I adapt my screenplays into a comic script format and make them into comics. It’s a way for some to see it. If something more comes from it, good. If something more doesn’t come from it, then that’s fine also. I just enjoy seeing my stories be brought to life, no matter what the media is.

  • What experiences from your life influence your characters?

Many of my scripts and characters have elements of me in them. I’ve written stories that basically had half the story be something that was beat by beat of a day or experience I had. Then I would change things up as the pages continued and say, “Well what if this happened instead?”.

  • Can you explain your character development process?

That’s a tough one to answer. I guess it really just comes from the idea of a character, or an idea for a story, and then from there the characters just kind of pop up and fit into this world and story the best they can. I know that probably made no sense at all. So I guess the actual answer to the question now is “No”.

  • Do you write bios before you start writing?

Most of the time, no. I usually just have the characteristics and motives of the character in my head, and then that’s able to be seen by how the characters are in the script itself.

  • How emotionally involved are you with the characters you create?

I would say very emotionally involved. Every time I’m writing a character in a story, I try to put myself in their shoes, no matter how awful they may be. I prefer to read the dialogue that I’m writing aloud, that way I’m able to see if it sounds natural or not. I was doing that recently with a character who was going through a tragic event in a story I was writing, and as I was reading his dialogue, I was crying some. It’s not something that would bring most others to tears by no means. It was just something that was tough for me to see for this character that I created, as I didn’t expect this event to happen to him when I first started writing this story.

  • What are your thoughts on structure?

I don’t think it’s as strict and rigid as some make it out to be. Sometimes its needed, sometimes you need to be a little more loosey-goosey with it. It all depends on what you are trying to convey.

  • Do you outline before you start writing?

I do outline a story before I start writing it, but it’s usually just bullet point things that will happen though. I’m also not super strict about adhering to everything in the outline. Sometimes when I’m in the middle of writing a story, it feels more natural for the characters or plot to go a different way than what was outlined for that point in the story originally.

  • What is the most important aspect of building a great character?

Having compelling dialogue is a key factor. Unless you’re purposely writing satirically or for a B-movie style, your characters’ dialogue needs to feel real and not stiff. Now if you’re writing satirically or for a B-movie style, you need to make sure your characters’ dialogue does not break that style, and that they stay true to the type of story that’s being told.