KYLE JENKINS - 10 Questions
10 Questions from the September 2014 Feature Screenplay Winner.
1. What is your screenplay about?
My screenplay is about Lawrence, a down on his luck, hopeless alcoholic who's hit rock bottom and has decided to pull his life together. As soon as Lawrence makes some progress and feels like he's cleaning up his act, he's confronted by a thirst within himself that's far worse than the first: a thirst for blood. After Lawrence's blood lust leads him to murdering a seemingly innocent man and kidnapping that man's orphaned child, a stranger named William steps into the picture to help Lawrence harness and control his thirst as Lawrence gradually absorbs the lifestyle of a vampire. As Lawrence attempts to develop some kind of control over his new affliction and to accept that his survival depends on denying life to others, his own life and everyone else in it is sucked in by a rapid downward spiral and spat out by a violent climax that they'll never be able to forget.
2. Why should your script be made into a film?
I believe my script should be made into a film because it's an original and uncompromising tale about the destructive reach of addiction that's woven into a mythology indirectly tied to that addiction, which is a growing epidemic in our country due to the widespread abuse of prescription pills (and how easy it is to get them) and, of course, abuse of alcohol and other drugs. I've also seen movies where vampires suffer and despise/feel guilt over the horrible things they need to do in order to survive (such as Interview With the Vampire and Let The Right One In) and that's something I wanted to be present in this script. These vampires are people, first and foremost. They rationalize things in order to convince themselves that they deserve to survive, despite that their survival is costing the lives of others. Lawrence's thirst for blood, when unsatisfied, is as relentless and unforgiving as an alcoholic's thirst for the sauce. Satisfying that thirst becomes as important to an addict as oxygen. And they'll do anything to get it. Anything.
Being that addiction is such a massive affliction on our country right now, I believe that audiences would be able to relate to Lawrence's struggle as well as to the struggle of those in his life who are forced to suffer the consequences of his addiction. The story could certainly help non-addicts begin to understand what drives an addict and how an addict's actions during active addiction don't make them terrible people. Despite that addiction is one of the oldest diseases on the planet, it's still widely misunderstood by those who don't suffer from it.
And, not to mention, who doesn't love vampire movies?
3. How long have you been writing screenplays?
I think I wrote my first screenplay during my junior year of high school. I was on a trip to Florida to visit colleges I was planning on applying to (ironically, the one college I decided not to visit in Florida on that trip, The University of Miami, is the one I ended up attending) and I was spending a lot of time on the road. For whatever reason, I picked up a notebook and started to write a short script. Couldn't say why that was the beginning but it ended up being so nonetheless.
4. What movie have you seen the most in your life?
Jaws. Hands down. I used to watch Jaws every time I went over to my grandmother's house as a kid. She would make me popcorn, melt butter and pour it all over the popcorn for me. Haha so healthy, I know. But I could never get enough of that movie. Not then and not now (I might have to go watch it after I finish these questions). To this day, Robert Shaw's death scene terrifies me more than just about any other death scene in film history. Not to mention, the USS Indianapolis scene remains my favorite movie scene of all time. It never fails to give me chills.
5. What artists would you love to work with?
Oh man, too many to list. Most of my choices are pretty obvious but they're obvious for a reason: they're among the finest filmmakers in Hollywood. But number one for me would be David Fincher. He's my favorite director of all-time. The amount of control he has over his stories is unprecedented. Some people give him flack for the "ridiculous" amount of takes he does. But, forget that! The guy is there to make the best movie he possibly can and he certainly succeeds every time. So if it works for him (and everyone else involved in his movies), then why hate on it? Aside from David Fincher I would say writer/director John Carpenter, writer/director Quentin Tarantino (obviously), writer/director Scott Frank, writer/director Matthew Vaughn, writers/directors The Coen Brothers, writer/director Christopher Nolan, writer/director Kathryn Bigelow, writer/director James Cameron, writer/director Eli Roth, writer/director Michael Mann, writers/directors The Twisted Twins and, uh, yeah I'll stop now.
6. How many stories/screenplays have you written?
Well, I don't really count my first 2 screenplays as screenplays because I wrote them before I really had any idea of what the hell I was doing. So, not counting them I've written 4. I've written 3 of my own original screenplays and I was hired to rewrite a screenplay for somebody else.
7. Ideally, where would you like to be in 5 years?
I understand that it's not realistic to be a bigshot in Hollywood within the next 5 years for just about anybody, although I am working towards that haha. But right now I am pursuing a career in journalism and I'm writing for an online magazine. In my free time, I'm still developing screenplays and hoping that I can eventually sell them to Hollywood.
8. Describe your process; do you have a set routine, method for writing?
I usually start out by putting together a detailed outline for the screenplay. I get ideas all the time and I've never had an issue with writer's block. If anything, my issue is having too many ideas and not being able to decide which one means enough to me to revolve an entire screenplay around. But I generally get an idea and then I put together a detailed outline. And it's always detailed, maybe too detailed, because I can't resist writing everything down. Once I have the outline complete, I write the first draft of the script at a pace of between 5 to 10 pages a day (depending on my work schedule). Once I finish the first draft, I revise, and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise . . . until I'm semi-happy enough with it (I'm really hard on myself) and I'm ready to submit it to a competition.
9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
I'm passionate about learning to live a simple life, about not letting the problems of the world determine my level of contentment and about doing the next right thing every day. I'm also passionate about Lyme Disease awareness because I have been afflicted with this disease (the largest epidemic in the United States) for about 20 years of my life now.
10. What influenced you to enter the WILDsound Script Contest?
was influenced by a random tweet from the WILDSound Twitter account to join the contest. After putting off contests for years (I'm very self-critical) I decided to take a chance and enter the contest. I'm happy I did!
11. Any advice or tips you'd like to pass on to other writers?
Keep at it. If you're meant to do it, you'll know it, especially if you stop doing it. When you're meant to write and you stop writing, you feel that void. And it'll always be there until you write again. Don't listen to the critic in your brain that's constantly telling you "this is crap and you should just quit now." Even if it is crap, just know that we all have to write crap in order to learn how to not write crap. Just like we all make mistakes in order to learn how to not make mistakes. That's life. And if you're afraid of "failure," just know that as long as you try, there's no such thing as failure.