Thursday, June 17, 2010

3Questions: Miles Chapman - Screenwriter

As part of our continuing 3Questions series, I present Miles Chapman, writer of the upcoming 20th Century Fox film Protection. Antoine Fuqua and Bruce Willis recently attached themselves to his feature script The Tomb.

HBAD: So, tell us, how did you get your start?

Well, I think like most feature screenwriters there’s no one thing I can point to. I was originally an actor, then switched to playwriting and directing, and finally over to screenwriting. I got my first manager through a friend who passed along my plays to his reps. But that didn’t work out. Mostly because I didn’t really know how to write a movie. So Iturn my attention away from trying to get representation and just focused on learning how to write a commercial movie. The end result was a script that another friend of mine who worked at Castle Rock passed along to some managers whom she liked. That process ended with me hooking up with my current manager. We worked on that script for a few months and then the manager sent it to agents and we got a bite. That’s how I got my first agent. I got my first job when the second spec I sent out was bought by Summit Entertainment, and one of the producers on that thought I might be right for this re-write job at Fox. I then went through what I call the “giving up your first born” process of trying to get that job. I did get it but it took like 5 months of intense work on how I’d fix the script, and then getting my pitch down cold.

HBAD: What are the most difficult challenges you've encountered on your career path?

That’s a good question because there are a lot of them. I’d say the biggest challenge is keeping the balance between being proactive and incredibly aggressive about doing your work and going after the jobs that you want, but then having the patience to wait… wait for meetings to get set, when they get set they then get cancelled, and then get set again, etc. Waiting for deals to get finished, waiting for checks to come, waiting for the next job… cause you never know when you’re gonna get the next one. Figuring out ways not to go crazy while you’re doing all the waiting is important.

HBAD: What advice would you have for someone just starting out in this business, looking to get into the position you're in?

I’d say really hone in on what it is you want to write about. I know that sounds funny but I think it’s really important that a writer feel really passionate about what they’re writing. If you love what you’re writing, all the challenges of the career are that much easier to deal with. And definitely learn as much as you can from reading the books, taking classes, etc. But try to get your hands on current scripts. Scripts that have sold recently. Scripts that are getting shot, or have landed on people’s favorite lists. Read as many scripts as you can. That really opened my eyes to how many creative ways there were to solve script problems.

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