Why did you start writing screenplays?
I’m a filmmaker turned writer due to the necessity of having a script under arms as a “more accessible” way of fulfilling that dream of directing my first movie. In the US, it is pretty difficult for a short film director to be presented with a first feature project to direct (not written by him or a friend); in Latin America (México), it is hardly impossible for that to happen! As first, you have to prove that you’ve got what it takes to handle a feature length…by having already directed one…or several! Thus, with that in mind, I put short films aside and ventured into a screenwriting learning experience in Vancouver to discover what a beautiful and hard art this is to create.
What movies do you watch to remind yourself that you love screenwriting?
Watching any movie can do that for me. I specially enjoy that moment when you subconsciously put the movie apart and start to go through the beats and acts, to further analyze why that particular movie got into you…or not! I actually just had the opportunity to attend this year’s Morelia International Film Festival, watched tons of movies, and all I would talk afterwards with my fellow peeps was about the script and why it worked or why it didn’t!
What is your highest screenwriting goal?
To be able to direct and make the story I’ve written on paper come to life on screen, and thus take an audience in a roller-coaster ride which they can share, talk and discuss afterwards, as I’ve done with almost every movie I’ve watched. And in a more psychological level, to have the ability to loose fear of the blank page and transform those images that always circle the mind into new stories that mature as I become a better person and filmmaker.
What aspects of the writing process do you struggle with the most?
The premise of the story: that starting solid idea that tells you that something happens to a particular character that will embark him on a journey to get/find/fight/seek for something and the obstacles that will arise because of that. I’ve also found it pretty hard to be able to apply the 7 structure points to an idea that hasn’t fully developed yet (it gets easier once it’s written!), but once I venture into pages and there’s a glimpse of that blurry goal the protagonist has, then the beauty of the writing happens, as once the characters start to act by themselves, then that is the moment when I realize that maybe there’s something of value on hand.
What do you feel you do well as a screenwriter?
Maybe it’s because of my filmmaking background, but I feel pretty confident envisioning scenes and being able to write them in a way that the reader can be taken by it, as it would occur in the screen, by presenting only the elements first needed to create and discover the scenario. I also have a blast with dialogue, as once I understand the dynamics of the characters, who they are, what they fear and what they want…then they pretty much start to do their own talking!
What do you see is the biggest problem with storytelling in Hollywood?
I feel there is a lack of character development that is shadowed by too many action-packed scenes. Yes, character is action, but if that particular character (no matter if it’s a “filler” one) has no personality, goal, urge, fear… Then it all just becomes a cardboard scene that no CGi will be able to save. The audience is a smart judge, and being accustomed by all that special effects, people are now asking for characters, for someone to invest their time and emotion in that 2 hour movie they chose to watch.
What screenplay have you written which you feel most proud of and why?
The screenplay I’ve submitted to this competition called Levantón. I don’t want to call it a first as I’ve written a few “tries” in the past, but what I’m most proud of is that I feel it actually makes sense! All the “beats” are there and every action is taken due to a change or need of character. The movie has few of those, and I’m happy to claim that every single one of them has a personality, a trait and an arch that is trigger due to the story, even the dog! It sure is all about the journey and the transformation.