After a brief hiatus from the blog since our "Screenwriter Spotlight" series this summer, we're back! In the past few months we saw our film DRAWING INSPIRATION screen at the awesome Boston International Kids Film Festival, had some great press (see the Boston Globe article we were featured in), and also pored over scripts to select finalists for our Summer of Screenwriting National Youth Script Contest (full winners list here). For this contest, FYP invited youth 18 and under from across the U.S. to submit their original screenplays of maximum 20 pages. Now's your chance to get to know the 1st place winner, Emily Connolly, 17, from Foxboro, MA who won for her script After Hours. Thanks to sponsors Final Draft, ShotPro, and Shot Lister for donating prizes!
Without further ado... meet Emily!
Emily Connolly is a senior at Foxborough High School. Creative writing has been one of her favorite hobbies since the third grade. Emily plays the flute in her school's band and runs long distance on the track team. She also enjoys reading and spending time with friends. Her script is about a self-centered teenager, Daisy, who goes through her days making snap judgements of everyone she meets. However, one night she discovers the hidden lives and unknown stories of the same people that she encountered during the day. After the final bell rings, the door closes, and the conversation ends, what will Daisy learn "after hours"?
I knew I wanted to write some sort of story about secondary, or hidden lives outside one's "day job". Originally, the script was going to be about just one character, and the life they lead "after hours", but I later decided to expand it to contain more then one character, and have their "double lives" be compared with a narrator who witnesses both. I've always been fascinated with “sonder", or the realization that every person has a story to tell.
How did you start screenwriting? Are there any resources you used that were helpful?
I started screenwriting because I feel that there are some stories that cannot be best told in written text, and are much more effective on the screen. I had several book ideas that I was working on (or rather, at the time, I was kind of stuck on) and once I reimagined them as screenplays, they were much easier to plan and to write. I really dug into screenwriting over the summer, actually, when I first heard about the Summer of Screenwriting contest. Because I had never written a complete screenplay before, the Internet was an extremely valuable resource, and I remember spending endless hours reading articles about screenplay formatting and techniques.
Talk about some of your artistic influences or inspiration:
I think the first movie I remember really leaving an impact on me was Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. I absolutely love that movie, and I think that the entire Star Wars series was what pushed me into writing science fiction. Not only that, but they also changed me as a storyteller. The Harry Potter book series also left a huge impact on me as a young writer. I think what I like the most about both of these stories are the complex characters that are developed, and the writers' ability to support and develop a large cast of characters. I know that for me, character development is something I'm always working on, and in short scripts and stories, I feel like the strength of one's character growth can make or break the story.
It doesn't matter how young you are; any story that you believe in... is valid and one that you should pursue.
My advice would be to really stick with any screenwriting goals that you have, and not to shy away just because "the industry is too hard to get in to" or "it will take forever to finish this project". It doesn't matter how young you are; any story that you believe in and you feel is an important one to tell is valid and one that you should pursue.
Also, on a completely different note, I would suggest that one reads as many screenplays and books as they can get their hands on, especially in a genre you're interested in writing.
What are your goals for the future? Any more screenplays you're working on or ideas you'd like to develop?
I am currently working on a pilot script for a television drama that I originally planned out as a book series. I'm super excited about this project, as I've been working on the story itself for several years now!