– Marc-Andre Samson, writer of I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead (2011 Script Pipeline Contest winner). Marc’s horror film Where the Devil Dwells will be released in 2015.
What do you think clicked so well with I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, making it one of the top scripts we received in 2011?
Hopefully, it’s because of the characters ... and people seem to dig the non-stop action in the third act. I think the script has a nice balance of mystery and action.
How many scripts, roughly, have you written? How long have you been writing?
I started writing stories when I was in third grade and never stopped. I wrote about a dozen scripts so far ... some good, some not-so-good. However, I had fun writing all of them.
Do you stick to a certain style or genre? Are there certain themes running throughout all your screenplays?
Crime and horror. I’m attracted to characters who avoid facing problems, and must eventually step up. I’m also fascinated by the power of corruption. The contest-winning script is such a rich, vivid study in character.
What inspired you to bring this gritty, female protag to life?
I was talking to a friend about writing a revenge story. His family is from El Salvador, and we discussed how it would be cool to have a Salvadoran character. I read about El Salvador and the civil war in the 80s-90s and everything came together this way. This country is so rich in history and drama—it was the perfect starting point for a crime story.
Is your goal to be a professional, working screenwriter, or do you have directorial or producing aspirations as well?
Writing is my first love of course. We produced a (very low budget) feature called Interstate with Shiloh Fernandez back in 2007. I learned a lot from this feature, and from my recent writing, so there will be a follow-up movie. Not a sequel, but something completely different.
You’ve been a long time writer to the Script Pipeline Workshop. What advice would you give writers who are hesitant to send their script out to contests or for third-party feedback?
There’s no way you can evolve without feedback. That is true for music, painting, writing or any other art. The thing to keep in mind is to not be discouraged by criticism. Sometimes people are right, and sometimes they are not. It’s your job to take this feedback, interpret it, and make it your own.
If marketability was of zero concern, what would be your ideal script to write (or have you already written it)?
I only write what I feel like writing. Marketability is of zero concern to me. That being said, I’m not a big fan of writing period pieces or existential drama, so I guess that helps a little. I’d like to write a story for a graphic novel. That’d be interesting.