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Rachel Thomas-Medwid, LISP 4th Quarter 2020 Official Selection, Short Screenplay by 'Penny'

LISP 4th Quarter 2020 Official Selection Short Screenplay, Penny by Rachel Thomas-Medwid

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

I’m an early riser so try to get some creative work in before starting my workday as a magazine editor. Along with screenwriting, I’ve ventured into directing recently and have two new films based on my screenplays. The Squirrels in the Attic is in the festival circuit and In the Company of Crows is wrapping up post now. There’s so much work involved from preproduction to filming through postproduction so the creative part each day looks different depending on what stage a film or screenplay is in. I’ve learned an incredible amount about filmmaking this past year, which has definitely helped my screenwriting!

When did you start writing? How often do you write?

In college I received the Alice Brandt Deeds Prize for Excellence in Creative Writing, which inspired me to keep writing. When you’re first starting out, having someone believe in your potential can be a game changer. I went on to have short stories published, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and moved on eventually to screenwriting. I’ve written two features, a television pilot, and many short scripts, all of which have won multiple awards (for more on my screenplays and films: I just made the ISA’s Top 25 Screenwriters to Watch in 2021 list, which is exciting! And while awards and recognition are excellent for motivation, the most important part is the actual work so I try to write, edit, or learn something new about the craft every day.

How does it feel to have your work recognised?

Fantastic! And it never gets old. Writing is hard and solitary and filled with rejection so being recognized goes a long way in terms of validation. I have to admit rejections also serve as motivation for me to improve (but that’s not a request for more rejections, lol)!

What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Screenplay?

The best thing is creating a world and characters that didn’t exist before. I still find that magical. The hardest part is sticking with a screenplay that isn’t working when you’d rather move on to another story. The ones I’ve persisted with (sometimes painfully!) usually end up being my favorite scripts.

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

I’d recently attended Nightmares Film Festival and was inspired by the incredible genre films there. While my material can be dark, it typically doesn’t fit into horror and I wanted to see if I could write something that could. With Penny, I explored the frightening ways a mind can go astray and tried to create an unsettling psychological scenario that could be potentially be real. From feedback so far it has managed to unnerve some people! While I did work on the script intensely it wasn’t over a long period of time, a few weeks maybe.

Can you please give us a few tips about writing a short screenplay?

For a short, I think the simpler the premise the better. That doesn’t mean it has to be boring—a premise can be unique and still simple—but you have to be economical with backstory, characters, and descriptions. Short screenplays are challenging because of length restrictions but they still should have a complete narrative with a beginning, middle, and end so sticking to one genre and not overly complicating the story helps.

What's the best thing and the hardest thing about festivals/competitions?

The best thing about festivals/competitions is the connections you can make! My experience with the filmmaking/writing community so far has been extremely positive and supportive. And feedback, whether good or bad, is also invaluable. The hardest part is the stiff competition with so many fantastic writers out there. But having all those talented writers creating material is a positive thing that can also be motivating.

Lastly, do you recommend writers to give it a go LISP?

Absolutely! You get a chance to have your work recognized and do a fun interview like this one. Thank you for recognizing mine!



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