Alexandra Gatto

Thank you Alexandra for taking the time to answer all of our questions. We are grateful for everything you have shared with us. At Oxford Script Awards we are wishing you a huge success with your next projects. Keep up the amazing work!

Hello Alexandra, can you tell us about your background and how you got started in screenwriting?

I’ve always loved writing as a form of escapism. I loved creating my own little world and filling it with people and situations that I dream up. When I discovered screenwriting it was perfect because the structure and pacing allowed a framework for the stories and story style I’d always loved creating. This last October I started winning awards for the first time and since then have won recognition from, Chicago Script Awards, Best Script Award – London, Wiki Screenplay Contest, Redwood Shorts & Scripts, New Age Cinemas & Scripts, and now Oxford Script Awards too; for me it is all such a dream come true.

What's your writing process like? How do you go about creating characters and developing a story?

I wish I could say the story speaks to me, or some whimsical process but really I formulate pretty intensely from the get go. Even when I have a story on the go any time I think of a good log line I write it down in a little notebook, then when it’s time for the next story I simply flip through my notebook. Once I have a logline I really just think up who’d hate/love to be in that situation and write up the characters based on that. Then in my mind I let them become real people. When I have a logline and my ‘people’ I pace it out along the classic ‘beat sheet’. From there it’s a dream of filling it all in, sometimes the story changes part way, but it normally stays close to what I map out.

Can you talk about a recent project you've worked on and the challenges you faced while writing it?

At the moment I’m actually working on my first thriller. When I wrote novellas and novels I always leaned towards the thriller side so I was really excited by the idea of changing up from my normal comedies. The structure is actually really similar but trying to make it ‘scary enough’ has been a weird balance that I look forward to continuing to tweak. I also never published or displayed my non-screenplay stories, so I have to walk the line of ‘too messed up’ if such a thing exists.

What do you think is the most important element of a great screenplay?

Writing every day and not being afraid of writing a pile of garbage. First drafts aren’t meant to be good and if you focus on making sure the first draft is a piece of art it’ll never happen. Instead write everyday, write the garbage, work and play with it, and eventually no matter who you are your work will eventually become art.

How do you feel about the current state of the film industry and the role of screenwriters in it?

Man, I don’t know. I wish I had a flashlight to shine and say ‘ah ha! That’s how it is’ but I don’t. The industry changes all the time, and as it changes it will always need someone to sit in the back somewhere making the story, that’s the only thing I feel I can really say.

How do you approach writing for different genres and audiences?

I’m a believer in writing for yourself. If you don’t like what you’re writing while you are writing it the audience won’t like it either. A lot of my work that I have won awards for I’m not the target audience but I loved working on. I even have a piece I want to retire because I dislike the final product so much but have had awards and script read requests for. I loved writing it, and now people are loving reading it.

How do you handle feedback and criticism?

When I was young I couldn’t help but to think it was personal, but when I started editing ‘Swapped’ and using beta readers my view clicked into something else. It became a puzzle to re-jig and fix. I absolutely love it and always get a kick out of reading criticisms and recommendations; to me they mean the world and make my work that much better.

Can you talk about any upcoming projects or collaborations you're excited about?

I’m working on an action comedy called Influenced about an Instagram influencer who gets mixed up in a drug ring. It’s about to hit its third draft. I’m really excited because instead of being a typical love story it focuses on a long lost friendship and the chaos of two worlds colliding.

How do you see the role of screenwriting evolving in the future?

I think that as the film industry evolves so will screenwriting. Humanity loves stories and that will never change.

What advice would you give to aspiring screenwriters?

Write everyday. Write great stories and ‘meh’ stories. If you write a page a day in a month you’ll have a TV pilot, and in four months you’ll have a movie. If you can’t think of something to write, read a book about writing. Staying consistent and reading more on the topic did wonders for my skills.