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Today in my second interview with writers on their writing, I introduce Michelle Muldoon. A former volleyball player and coach, she discovered her passion for screenwriting just the last few years.
I met Michelle through my friends Bronwen and Cat, who are actors, and star in Michelle’s beautiful short film, A Rendezvous.
1. I am…. Michelle Muldoon
2. Author of… screenplays, short and feature length.
3. The first thing I ever wrote was…
short fiction. I don’t know what compelled me, but I started fooling around with some ideas, and then took a summer course through the Vancouver School Board. A friend in the film industry suggested my writing style suited the screenplay format, and so I decided to make the switch. I gave it a try, and although I was quite horrible in the beginning, I found I loved the structure of the medium.
4. I knew I wanted to be a writer when…
I let someone read what I was writing, and it seemed to resonate with them.
I believe that we are defined by our choices, and the consistency of my choices has been to work in areas that I feel could make a difference to someone.
I like the idea that something I’ve written can have an effect on people, whether it’s simply having fun with perspective, or creating dialogue around a difficult topic.
5. My first writing success was….
Best Drama Award for a Feature Screenplay at The Action On Film International Film Festival in 2008.
6. Who were your influences?
I can’t say that there’s a specific screenwriter that has influenced me, but I could say that many excited me about film, and contributed to a lifelong fascination with visual story-telling. Pilar Alessandra at On The Page Script Consultations and Screenwriting Classes taught me how to write screenplays. She is both mentor, and primary influence. My first success came one year after my first course. My approach to story definitely starts with her. I believe that my love of film as a whole and my life experiences, in general, shape the kind of stories I tell. I grew up loving science fiction. I’ve never written a science fiction script, yet, the themes that resonated with me from a young age are present in my writing. The more I write, the more I see that.
7. Describe your writing process.
I can write anywhere. I often write at home, but have also pulled my laptop out to write in airports, planes, coffee shops, lunch spots, and anywhere when the time is available and I’m in the right mindset. I’ve even written in longhand when I’ve had to sit in waiting rooms for a late appointment and a story popped into my head. If the idea is there, then so is the means to put it into a story.
If I’m sitting down to write, I use Final Draft, one of several accepted screenwriting software packages.
I wish writing was a daily habit, and it once was, but these days I write in batches. When I do sit down to write, I can be quite prolific.
To keep me from procrastinating, I will often book a script consultation or assessment before I’ve even started the script. That way, I have to write to deadline. It keeps me honest with myself, and accountable to my long-term goals.
8. What does success as a writer look like to you? Do you think you are successful?
I think I have found some success at the stage I’m at, but it isn’t the success that I have my sights set on. Becoming a working writer in the film industry is rare, but it’s what I dream of. To do that, you need to generate content that’s produced. In my opinion, a script is incomplete without the film. My goal is to see a script through to the end, and sit in a theatre and see how all the other creatives in the business have interpreted my words to create the finished film. A script, at the heart of it all, is the blueprint that guides every other department in the creation of film. They each add their own seasoning, and in the end what you get is that tasty morsel that satisfies so many of the viewers’ senses. For me, success is seeing and hearing my words on screen.
9. What does the future look like? What are you working on?
I’ve been working on a feature screenplay, a thriller called Birthday Blues. It crosses platforms of storytelling and visual presentation. I intend to package a web-series and a series of music videos with the screenplay. The exciting part of writing for film is that there are so many ways to get your story out; to add layers and depth to the characters and their journeys. I think this particular story has all the pieces to do that. I’m hoping to get financing in place to make it independently.
From here, I’m going to turn my attention to a television pilot. Those themes from science fiction I mentioned earlier? I think they’ll play out well in the concept I’ve been working on, another thriller with a strong, damaged, female lead character.
10. Which famous writer would you like to write your biography?
The idea of an autobiography is scary enough as it is, never mind having to pick an author! I don’t think I want one, but if I had to, then Neil Gaiman might be the guy. He could decide if my story is best told as a biography, graphic novel or script. And he’s welcome to throw in a Tardis. Yes, I think I would like a Tardis thrown in for good measure.