Thank you Barry 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!
Prior to writing screenplays, I wrote nine best-selling business books, over 500 original trade articles and industry reports and a Guru series for the Centre for Exhibition Industry Research. My syndicated column appeared in over 100 publications worldwide. I retired for a few years, but writing called me back. I completed my first screenplay in three months. I was hooked.
My characters are composites of people I know, people I have read about and stuff I make up. Developing relatable characters is the best part of my job and I let my imagination run wild. I’m not gay, LBGTQ, female, black, redneck or a sociopath, but its great fun getting into the minds people who are.
Years ago, I wrote a novel called The Hangman’s Fracture. It went nowhere. Recently I took the novel (I loved the concept), changed the perspective and a few other details and developed a screenplay called A Secret Life. I didn’t think A Secret Life was commercial. A nagging message bounced around in my head saying, “Nobody wants to read about the son of a hangman” Then it hit me – I do. So, I let go of my doubts and wrote the best story I could.
I am pretty new to writing screenplays, but I think the most important element starts with the author’s passion for the story.
I feel the role of screenwriter is not replaceable. I haven’t seen evidence that AI has mastered the qualities of passion, humor and creativity.
My first three plays were inspired by real life stories of courageous woman during World War 2. My Fourth play is A Secret Life. I have first draft of an animated piece and developing a limited series television concept called The Jury. My tastes are eclectic. When I approach a story, I watch as many films as possible, read screenplays and learn the nuances of the genre.
I very quickly learned how subjective feedback is. One critic will give me glowing comments while another hates my work. Rejections are another thing. Some producers will issue a standard “Not for us,” replay, (if they bother to acknowledge my pitch at all).
Then there are producers who say no and take to time to tell me why. I love these. I read all comments (good or bad) then decide what will strengthen my screenplay.
A Secret Life won the 2023 Boston Screenplay Award. As a result of that exposure, I was hired by a production company to develop a screenplay from a concept they had developed. It’s been great fun working with a team who knows what they want and are open to collaboration.
Storytelling is the world’s oldest profession. It’s not going away anytime soon.
I haven’t been doing this long enough to give meaningful advice. For me, I’m on a steep learning curve, and that is what gets me up in the morning.