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ROBERT WARD - 10 Questions

WATCH Interview with the Writer
10 Questions from the December 2013 Screenplay Winner.

1. Why should your script be made into a film?

Audiences that enjoy a good horror film with a bizarre storyline, strong psychological elements, a unique antagonist, and a creepy twist ending will love "The Final Job." Plus, I strongly believe this is one of those rare stories that needs to see the light of day or better yet, the dark of a theater.

2. How long have you been writing screenplays?

I started screenwriting about seven years ago, though most of that time has been spent with business writing and some journalism. (I've been a professional writer for 26 years.) Luckily, with some of the successes I'm having nowadays with screenwriting, I'm spending less time on the other writing.

3. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Partly because a television channel used to show it every five minutes and because it's a great movie, "The Shawshank Redemption." Such a great film because of the smooth voiceovers, dynamic characters, constant tension, memorable dialogue and creative ending, a film that has it all. Rather sweet too. I look at "The Shawshank Redemption" as a love story really, between a man and his unrequited love. Freedom. And after all those years living in somewhat hell, he wins back his love in dramatic unforgettable fashion.

4. What artists in the film industry would you love to work with?

From the get-go, definitely Billy Bob Thornton. Love his range and handling of offbeat characters (which comprise some of my own scripts). I enjoy the breakout actors the most, like Brie Larson and Eddie Redmayne, since I can immerse myself more in a film if I'm not that familiar with the actor. The believability factor just goes through the roof and I don't have that little voice in the back of my head saying, "DiCaprio sure looks good in this." Anyone in "Game of Thrones." And the Coen Brothers would work wonders with my stories.

5. How many screenplays have you written?

I have three feature screenplays, several more start-stop feature projects, and 11 shorts.

6. Ideally, where would you like to be in 5 years?

Definitely writing screenplays 100 percent of my work time. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area with a 45 minute flight to LA. So I'm primed and ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille.

7. Describe your process; do you have a set routine, method for writing?

I try hard to set a routine, like writing during the day, but oftentimes I have to write when the mood strikes. Nothing worse and nothing better than getting a great idea the second your head hits the pillow and you have to prop yourself up and feverishly write out story beats. Method comes easy. I have been blessed with relentless creativity that is a vicious monster when I'm trying to sleep but a godsend when I would pound out a 900-word good-to-go newspaper column in 45 minutes. I also had to endure a childhood of hearing my mother say, "Bobby, why do you say the weirdest things?"

8. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I'm an information addict. The iPad was built for me. I can lie there for hours and surf. One topic after another, wherever my curiosity takes me. I might look up DiCaprio, then "Inception", then bank vaults, then number theory, then betting lines, then San Jose Sharks, then face-off infractions. I'm a longtime Oakland A's fan, but nowadays I'm learning all about my new love, hockey. I'm passionate about walking, especially through great cities such as San Francisco, and riding my bicycle every chance I get.

9. What influenced you to enter the WILDsound Script Contest?

I saw the contest at Moviebytes.com and immediately fell in love with it. I liked that the contest awarded a reading of your script, something invaluable for anyone testing the waters with their scripts. It's completely out of the writer's hands at the very moment of the reading and so you get a truly honest feedback that the writer can witness online. Where does the work move along best? Where does it falter? Where can the flow be improved? Does the dialogue sing, at every moment? An awarded reading is a nice accomplishment of "job well done" as well as a great tool for improvement.

10. Any advice or tips you'd like to pass on to other writers?

Grammar and proofread, in all instances. I give no quarter to lazing writing. (Ha! I'm one of those professionals who proof and polish every email.) It's just solid form, and shows everyone you're a pro. Plus, I don't want to infect my hard-earned style with crap. I see writers in screenwriting forums asking others to read their scripts, but writes his or her request in a truncated sloppy manner. If you didn't put the effort into your simple missive, why would your script be any different? Keep learning the craft is another biggie. Absorb everything you can. Every resource available. Develop your own style. When I started out, my goal was not to be just a writer but to be a great writer. I didn't want to embarrass myself. It's sad reading a self-professed writer and thinking the writing isn't very good. Regarding your screenplay out there for feedback, here's a huge one: Take notes from others with class. Sure, it sometimes hurts like all hell to hear the wrong things. One of the greatest differences I see between pros and new writers is the ability to take a blow to the head. Take feedback like a pro. Don't tell readers they're full of it and stupid because they don't "grasp your vision." Negative feedback stings. Read it days later after you've calmed down. There is almost always validity, if not a kernel, to the reader's comments. Oh, and without a doubt, use a beat sheet at the very beginning.



ROBERT WARD