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Steven Blows, LISP Feature Screenplay FINALIST

LISP Feature Screenplay FINALIST, THE MIGHTY VARIANTS by Steven Blows

- Can you please tell us about you and your daily life?

I am an avid gym goer, a cinephile, and an identical twin. After enjoying the life of a reader for many years I am now a passionate writer compelled to create fantastical fiction in varying genres.

- When and how did you get into writing?

Writing was something that grew on me. I remember when the seed began to grow. I was watching the behind-the-scenes appendices for the ‘Lord of the Rings’ films and wishing that I could be involved in the creation of films in some way. At the same time, I was diving into the world of cinema history for the first time and writing reviews on most titles I watched. Before long, I noticed that most of my reviews were critiquing the story rather than the production or director. That was when my appreciation and love of the story (and therefore writing) began.

It then took a couple of years to learn the craft and develop a passion for the art. Now, I have three ready to go feature-length scripts and thirteen short screenplays with varying awards and placements in screenwriting competitions. Most noticeably, the same script that won a Finalist place in this LISP competition was also placed as as a Semi-Finalist in the Screenwriting Master contest, and a Horror Action script of mine called ‘The Grand Bay Hotel’ was awarded a Semi-Finalist spot in the Filmatic Horror Screenplay Awards.

- How often do you write? Do you have a writing routine? And what inspires you to write?

I write at every opportunity I can, and if the opportunity isn’t there, I change my week to make one. But, of course, there are the days or weeks where I simply cannot find the time to write. On these days I try to do one thing a day to progress forward. Be it replying to an email or applying to a screenwriting competition.

Regarding a writing routine, I’m free flowing. I love to write so I’m not looking for any structured time to force myself in front of a laptop. For some people strict structure works, for me it doesn’t. Instead, I set myself a To-Do-List. I’ve been writing for a while now so I know how long each task will take me. A day, a week, whatever. I find a To-Do-List helps with life’s sporadic and spontaneous ebbs and flows. Trying to force yourself to write for an hour every day is working against the tide, whereas a To-Do-List is always waiting for you to pick it up and crack on.

- How does it feel to have your work recognised?

They don’t call it a reward for no reason. I am over the moon every time I see that one of my scripts have been placed within or have won an award, because it means that my work has connected with the jury on a personal level. At times, writing can be a lonely endeavour so to have that stamp of approval is a real morale boost that keeps me focused on the invisible finish line.

- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about writing a Screenplay?

The best thing about writing a screenplay is the mental workout, and when that workout gets going, I can lose track of time and sense of oneself. It’s just me and the story. I love to learn about all topics, and I love to learn about myself. Writing is a synergy of both these things. As I examine the themes of a story, I examine myself. With research, every new project I write lets me explore an entirely new subject. One day I can be reading about orbital mechanics, the next I’m discovering how the birds of Papua New Guinea fall in love, and after that I’m reading about the best methods of escaping a sinking car. I may be sitting in the same chair, but no two days are the same.

The most challenging thing about writing a screenplay is what to do with it afterwards. That’s the bit you have no control over and after spending weeks or months with total control to suddenly be faced with none is daunting. The world seems full of possibilities with no clear path. That is why competitions are great. They are a way into the market where you can get your project noticed.

- How did you come up with the idea for your LISP selected story? Is there a story behind your story? And, how long have you been working on it?

I, like the protagonist of my screenplay ‘The Mighty Variants’, was reminiscing on a love of mine the ‘Robot Wars’ TV Show when my writer’s mind kicked in and said, “Hey! There hasn’t been a film about this yet!”. I loved the idea right away and after the want was there, the rest came easy. I wrote the script alongside a 6-month part-time screenwriting course I was studying in London where I had the freedom to discuss my idea with other writers. When I saw the genuine interest other people had for my idea, I knew that this was a story I had to tell. For the story, I followed a knock-out competition style plot and matched the technicality of robot fighting with a character who happens to have Downs syndrome, which gave the story an underdog character to root for with an edge. This is my most personal story yet and the people who know me will see snippets of my personality and life dotted throughout the script.

- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a Screenplay?

Be unique. I don’t only mean in your writing - of course in your writing - I mean as a person. People sit their butts in a dark room for two hours to see something new and exciting. These wonderful stories must start somewhere and more often than not they are dreamt up in the imagination of someone peculiar. Someone who looks at the world in a different way than most people do. It is this one-of-a-kind point of view that translates from writer to story to audience, and without this key ingredient a story is likely to fall flat. Everyone can learn to write a story, but what separates the tea from the coffee is that unique ingredient you put into your writing which makes no one else’s work like yours. So be weird, be strange, and be yourself. There is no one quiet like you. In other words, be unique.

Another tip would be to take your time. Work at your own pace. If you are starting out as a beginner, then read the theory books first. Avoiding the easy mistakes can save you a great deal of time in rewrites. If you have a couple of completed scripts under your belt and feel that you can write a first draft in a couple of weeks, then do it. Do whatever works for you. As long as you are serious about reaching the end and having good quality writing then you will get there.

- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about competitions?

The best thing about competitions are the unknown knock-on effects. This interview for example. This will be advertised on your social media, and someone might see it and contact me. The possibilities are exciting.

The most challenging thing about competitions are the number of competitions out there. It is a very time-consuming task to read all the information about a competition before deciding if it is worthy to enter, and then you have all the entry deadlines to keep on top off and sometimes high fees to consider. This may mean that you must choose one competition over another. At first it seems like one big pointless headache, but then you work through it and in a few months (if you’re lucky) the hard work pays off. That end date may be months in the future and hard to see, but it is there, and you must aim for it by entering your script into a competition.

- Lastly, do you recommend the writers give a go on LISP?

100%! LISP is a great opportunity. For starters, they are a company who I respect and to be involved with them in any manner is amazing. Secondly, they are a competition who gives actual awards and rewards to its Finalists and Winners. This is something that a lot of competitions are missing. Finally, every writer should be submitting their work to competitions. It is a way to do something with a script that is otherwise sitting redundant in a virtual draw. Competitions are much like pitching to production companies, you will lose many and win some. If your work is good, it will eventually shine through. Unfortunately, that’s the way the game is played so you best get playing.



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