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Interview with writer Brandon Lovinger

  • What is the first story you ever wrote?

In Elementary school my best friend was better than me at everything. Always the competitive spirit, I tried to hop on to any hobbies she had. Resultantly, I ended up getting reeled into a lot of random hobbies which eventually included writing. We made up a game at recess called Imaginationland that during freetime in class we turned into a “novel,” which was primarily drawings. She ended up losing the short writing when she moved away, but I still remember bits and pieces of it.

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

A prominent book within my childhood was “The Apothecary” by Maile Meloy. This was my Harry Potter. The writing is lovely and the magic within her world expands beyond just the plot. The settings, characters, and historical background made this trilogy a thrilling read which sparked my fascination with world-building.

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

I tend to consider myself an unknown writer still and probably will for a while. It’s hard to get your work seen but the effort pays off when you finally see your work materialized. Best thing you can do is keep your eye out for opportunities and continually submit your work even if not accepted at first.

  • What experiences from your life influence your characters?

I’d have to say everything, it’s hard to pinpoint a singular specific thing which has shaped my characters. I believe all artists draw from life constantly but I’d have to say I pull emotions from myself. I’m very intrigued by emotions and always challenge my close friends to dig deeper when they have strong feelings towards something. This heavily influences the reactions my characters have as I try and imagine how a dynamic being would respond.

  • Can you explain your character development process?

I think the development process is really revolvant on what I hope the audience walks away from a piece with. A coming-of-age piece will have a drastically different development process in contrast to a horror work. I tend to let the characters write themselves but have some loose boundaries on my expectations for them.

  • Do you write bios before you start writing?

Not myself, but I do think it can be helpful for those struggling to grasp a sense of their characters. There are a multitude of exercises for fleshing out your characters that can be beneficial to scour the internet for.

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

Probably a little more than I should be. Sometimes while writing I’ll push myself to place myself in the characters’ shoes and experience some of their emotions to get a better sense of how they respond to certain situations. I occasionally find myself walking away from the page feeling angry or upset and then have to remind myself that the thing I’m upset about isn’t real. It’s crazy how the characters you create can have such an impact on you.

  • What are your thoughts on structure?

I think that it’s a good entry for people looking to get into screenwriting. I found myself pulling out ambitious ideas which lacked structure and cohesion so referring back to the three-act structure for film projects helps keep my ideas organized. Additionally, as a new writer, following the general form can help showcase your knowledge on the art form. Structure and formatting signals to professionals reviewing work that you care about the medium and aren’t submitting a piece which was thrown together. Despite this, I think that the structure isn’t an essential thing within screenwriting. There are many excellent films which utilize unconventional structures which wouldn’t exist if the writer was bound to the common structure used by the majority of Hollywood films.

  • Do you outline before you start writing?

Not particularly. My personal best friend is the notes app on my phone where I’ll jot down random ideas which can either be conceptually broad or specific. Over time I peek at the collection of little notes and try to piece different ones together so an unfinished idea can develop into a sustainable one.

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

Dimensions. The most boring thing to follow is a two-dimensional character. Having an interesting plot is a prominent component of storytelling, but your characters will end up carrying the weight for you when the piece is put on stage/screen. Giving them humanizing elements such as a negative attribute allows your audience to connect with the character and makes them more believable. No character should ever be solely just good or bad.