Alex Elyar Interview
Alex Eylar made it to the final round of BlueCat and won $2000 with his script The Prime Mover. Now, as is customary for BlueCat winners and finalists, he answers our invasive questions about his creative process!
The Prime Mover is..
A young man witnesses a glitch in time itself, and becomes a target of the individuals tasked with protecting the system the world relies on.
When did you start writing screenplays?
High school. I’ve always been a film geek, so in my junior year I tried my hand at screenwriting. The result was a shoddy, uninspired, patchwork collection of inside jokes and bad gags; something I would take pleasure in burning if I had a hard copy. Once I started reading more scripts and watching more (and better) movies, my sensibilities matured. I wrote a script I could be proud of, which paved the way for film school, where I learned the ropes and honed my skills. Fast forward to today and I’m a finalist.
Why did you start writing screenplays?
The folly of youth. I read a script to a movie I liked and thought “I could do that”, and I did. I had ideas to share and stories to tell, and that’s all I needed.
How many screenplays have you finished?
I have five completed screenplays and two halfway completed. But a script is never finished: there’s always more that can be done.
How do you find time to write?
I keep the early hours of the morning free. 12:00-3:00 a.m. is prime writing time, for me personally. The ideas just flow.
What aspects of the writing process do you struggle with the most?
Character. I’ve always been more plot-focused and dialogue-focused than character-focused; I’ve been told my protagonists need a little depth. But it’s a shortcoming that gets easier to overcome with every script I write.
Why do you feel like you do well as a screenwriter?
They say I nail dialogue, and can tune into the “awesomeness” frequency very effectively. Other than that, your guess is as good as mine.
How does screenwriting make you happy?
When the complexity of the plot and character dynamics pay off in the third act without leaving any loose ends, it’s a feeling of satisfaction like none other. Also, writing an action sequence that’s never been done before is a sublimely giddy moment.
What do you think is the biggest problem with storytelling in Hollywood?
Too often, Hollywood can’t see the forest for the trees. It’s a trap that’s easy to fall into, even for a screenwriter: you focus on the individual elements – the “God, this is awesome” bits; the Rule of Cool; the marketability – at the expense of story. Blinded by the flash in the pan, you ignore how poorly those elements may fit in the story you’ve so delicately crafted. You can’t just shoehorn in a skydiving gunfight because it’d be neat: you’ve got to make it organic, or the audience will call bullshit.
How can you improve in how you handle feedback?
Humility helps. There’s a temptation to think of a script as your baby that no one else should touch, and that attitude will only hurt you. It’s an industry of collaboration, so if you’re not open to second opinions, your Citizen Kane will never see the light of day. I don’t have much of a problem taking feedback, because more often than not, my response is “Damn, I wish I thought of that first.”
What are your greatest fears about screenwriting?
Mediocrity. The worst circle of Hell is the one you land in when you’ve got a script that’s good, but not great. People like it, but not enough to do anything with it. It’s got potential, but it’s just not there yet. That perpetual arrested development is all the incentive I need to knock it out of the park.
What is your highest screenwriting goal for yourself?
I interned at Scott Free Productions a few months ago, and spent a lot of time preparing the conference room for Ridley Scott’s and Tony Scott’s script meetings. I’ve made it my mission to one day return to Scott Free, and return that very conference room, under different circumstances.
What do you do to achieve that goal?
Write and don’t stop.
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