"My experience with the International Family and Faith Screenwriting Competition was enjoyable from start to finish. I found the entry fee reasonable, all of the people I talked to in connection with the contest have been friendly and encouraging, and all promises have been kept. I highly recommend this festival!"
"It was a great honor to be included in this film festival and screenwriting contest."
"Great people to work with, and I was honored to be a finalist. I'd recommend this festival to any writer who's working in the Family/Faith genre."
The following is from an interview with the very talented and brilliant Rebecca Spindler.
What's your background? How long have you been writing? And what made you choose and or transition into screenwriting? My professional experience includes being a writing instructor for a community college, script editor, event coodinator, recruiter, HR staffing, patient and family advocate and community relations manager. I come from a very diverse family deeply rooted in faith and love. My desire for writing stories began when I was nine years old and received my first typewriter. Many years later, I transitioned from writing short stories into screenwriting. It was a fairly natural transition for me since I love writing characterized dialogue. For the past 14 years, I have created content for short scripts, feature scripts, and TV pilots. I have expanded my experience into producing short films too.
What screenwriting training have you received? And what were some of your biggest breakthroughs? I have attended Writers Bootcamp - LA, attended writing workshops at Nashville and Austin Film Festivals. In July 2019, I had the amazing opportunity to be a Rocaberti Writers Retreat fellow and was matched with Jennifer Grisanti, she became my mentor. Jen is a past CBS Executive and worked alongside Aaron Spelling on the 90210 series, she has the incredible ability to get writers in tuned to the heart of their story.
What else have you written? What writing habits work for you? Do you write in short bursts or long shifts, in the morning or late at night, do you write at coffee shops, at home, or at the office when no one else is looking? I have had 5 short stories published, 3 novels (co-written with my daughter), blogs with ScreenCraft and Huffington Post and built a portfolio of over 16 screenplays. When I was younger, I burned the midnight oil and would write into the early hours after my family went to bed. Now that I am an empty nester, I write in the morning and any open time I can. I prefer to write at home, near a sunny window, with my chai latte and dog nearby. And I'll admit, I do write notes on my phone when I overhear a conversation that's too good to forget!
What's the title of the script you entered, and what's it about? Songbird (see next question 5 for description)
Where do you look for inspiration and what inspired you to write this script? My cousin gave me a wall hanging, it says "Your Story Begins at Home" and that's the true inspiration for me. I have a very large family filled with rich history, unique people and life changing events. I draw from them for inspiration, it's an organic process as I include their essence and add my own fictional touches. Songbird came about after I watched Carrie Underwood's music video, "Blow Away", it's about a teenage girl growing up in a troubled home, wishing a cyclone would come and blow all her troubles away. I built a story about a teenage girl with a troubled mother and a dark past, dropped in the EF5 tornado that hit Joplin (in 2011) and gave this girl a second chance in rebuilding her life with a high school choir teacher who helps her fulfill her dream of being a singer.
Describe your process? Do you outline your story first? Do you use notecards or a beat sheet? Or do you simply sit down and let it flow? I do a bit of everything when building my story. I make notes on the world/setting. I create lengthy character descriptions and synopsis with theme and plot points. Beat sheet and story worksheets are also great tools.
What was your experience with our festival? Are you happy with your involvement? What did you like most about your experience? And what could we improve on? Joseph offered me the opportunity to send my script out to producers. A couple producers expressed an interest in reading it. I am humbled and thrilled that my script was a Top 2 Finalist in 2018, it gives me validation that my story can grow wings!
What are you writing now and what do you plan on writing in the near future? My current projects are family comedy TV pilots and TV pilots for women of a mature age. I also have a passion project of a medical drama TV series based on my professional work experience with transplant patients and families.
Any advice for those about to dive into their first feature-length screenplay? Just write it. Don't dwell on what you need to fix. Get that first draft done, then celebrate because that's a big accomplishment. Then, go back and polish it up. But before you polish, give it to other writers to read it and give you notes to help you edit it in the right direction.
Last, but not least, what have been your biggest victories since entering our festival? Any more awards, any representation, any options, connections, new opportunities, and or plans to move to New York or LA? I have been pitching Songbird to producers, executives and managers via Stage 32 and Roadmap Writers. Producers have complimented this script, saying it's one of the best scripts they've read. I submitted Songbird to the Rocaberti Writers Retreat and have received admission for their 2020 retreat in France. Songbird was also a Second Rounder (coming in the Top 10%) in the 2019 Austin Film Festival competition, out of a record-breaking 12,000 scripts! I'm still working on gaining representation and have been to LA to network this script.