Taking third place in our Fall Contest was a female-led crime drama in which a professional thief must contend with both the mob and the challenges of her complex family, and which particularly impressed us with its fantastic characters: MAKE THE WEATHER by Tom O’Connell!
John McCoy not only took 2nd place in our Fall Contest, he was also our Horror Award winner with his script THE DEVIL’S TIDE! We’ve already introduced him and his script here, but we wanted a closer look at what inspired him, his writing process, and his advice for writers.
And don’t forget to enter our Winter 2021 Screenwriting Contest if you want a chance to win big yourself. Our Horror Award is now closed, but our next genre prize is already open: the Romance and Comedy Award! Standard deadline is this Sunday, December 20th, so enter now!
What was your inspiration for writing THE DEVIL’S TIDE?
A few years ago, I was on vacation in France, and visited Mont Saint-Michel. The gothic-style monastery, vast beach landscape, and island medieval fortress seemed like the perfect backdrop for a classic supernatural horror movie. Having lived in Washington, DC, I’ve watched curious tourists admire the Georgetown steps where FATHER KARRAS ended his life in THE EXORCIST. Even approaching 50 years since it was made, horror fans still visit the stairs as if that final sacrificial scene actually occurred there. In THE DEVIL’S TIDE, I incorporated a spiritual place with genuine historical events to capture that same sense of ancient evil resurrecting in current times.
Why did you choose to write a horror movie?
As mentioned above, when I first saw Mont Saint-Michel, I immediately thought, “what a great place for a horror movie.” I love horror, because it elicits powerful emotions of anticipation and fear. Great supernatural horror not only challenges our beliefs in the natural world, but it moves us towards intense feelings that come from the core of our human instincts. Unlike any other genre, horror allows you to feel shivers up your spine, hair standing up on the back of your neck, or a “jump out of your seat” scare.
What was the writing process, and how long did it take?
I started writing it in 2018 as a student at UCLA’s Professional Program in Screenwriting. By the end of the semester, I had a first draft. I owe a great deal to my instructor and fellow students for providing valuable feedback throughout. Once a solid first draft is complete, the real work of rewriting with additional trusted feedback continues. I never feel like it is perfect. For me, there are always small tweaks and fresh ideas that make it better over time.
How have your own experiences informed your writing?
I’ve had an amazing career as a psychologist at the CIA, and had the opportunity to travel to more than 45 countries. Learning from people, history, and cultures around the world has given me a unique perspective of the human condition, one that I can explore when developing stories, characters, and place.
If I only had the time, I feel like I have a lifetime of story ideas waiting to be written.
What would be your advice to other screenwriters?
I’ve received some wonderful mentorship from other filmmakers and screenwriters. There is so much to learn, and of course, rejection is part of the game. If I had to pick two themes, I would first advise writers to write because you enjoy storytelling. The writing itself is difficult, but if you have a passion for telling stories, it will motivate you through the process. Second, never stop honing your craft. Whether through a workshop, class, book, or mentor, I am always looking for opportunities to learn more about screenwriting and filmmaking.
We’re moving towards one of the most exciting times of the year here at WriteMovies, when we get to choose the contest winners we’ll be developing and pitching to industry. After another tough round of judging, we’ve selected the semi-finalists for our Fall 2020 Screenwriting Contest!
2020 hasn’t gone the way anyone expected, but we’re determined to make the most of 2021 – and we want you to do the same. That’s why we’re launching the Winter 2021 Screenwriting Contest today, which will be open until January 31st!
With many production shoots currently limited by lockdowns and other restrictions, the best thing screenwriters can do right now is keep writing. Focus has shifted onto finding future projects for after the pandemic, with many commissioners searching for scripts for several years down the line.
So if you’ve been hard at work over the last few months – or if you’re just looking to get off to the best possible start in 2021 – this is the contest for you! The Winter 2021 Screenwriting Contest is your chance to make the new year the best it can possibly be.
The Grand Prize is $3500, and the top three scripts all receive:
- A year of free script development worth up to $3200
- Guaranteed pitching to industry
- An invitation to a lunch with an industry executive in L.A.
- Exclusive listing from InkTip
The final deadline is on January 31st, but there are plenty of reasons to enter early. You get free entry when you buy one of our script reports, and once you’ve received your report, you can resubmit a new draft of your script for free! Give yourself plenty of time to redraft based on our feedback by buying as soon as possible.
So click HERE to enter the Winter 2021 Screenwriting Contest, and take your shot at making next year a great one for you and your script!
So lockdown changed a lot of things, and in the long run one of the most important will be our relationship to the places we work.
We’re assembling a team of award-winning ghostwriters from among our winners – something that the winners of our recent Horror Award and Fall Contest will all be considered for! We’ll be introducing you to some of our ghostwriters over the coming weeks – but what does it take to join their ranks?
With the final deadline for our Fall Screenwriting Contest on Sunday, we’re keeping a close eye on the state of the industry right now – we pitch ALL our winners to industry, so we need to know the lay of the land and exactly what execs are looking for.