Congratulations on your movie “Lost Mother.” I really enjoyed it. How did you start writing screenplays?
Hi, Wanda, thank you for asking.
In the mid-1990s, while my brothers and I were feeding cattle on the Porter Ranch in San Luis Obispo County, California, my brother Chris suggested that we write a screenplay about two historical figures: our great-great-grandfather Isaac J. Sparks, who had received the ranch from the Mexican government in 1843; and Allen B. Light, Sparks's friend and hunting partner, and the first black resident of Santa Barbara. The result of Chris's suggestion was "Sparks and Light," my first feature-length screenplay.
I continued to write screenplays; and in 2006, I joined a group
called InkTip.com, which allows writers to post descriptions of screenplays--features and shorts. A director, Monalisa Dasgupta, read some of my shorts, then asked me to write a
feature with her. The result of our collaboration was "Lost Mother," a docudrama set in America and India, written in English and Bengali, about a single mother who must choose between pursuing a career in film and developing a relationship
with her teenaged son. Monalisa produced, directed, and acted in the film, then showed it in India, Australia, California, and Texas.
What else have you written?
A couple a weeks ago, a director from Alaska bought my short called "Can We Partner This Deal?"--a romantic comedy about a young businessman and a young businesswoman who, with buzzwords on cellphones, try to plan their future.
And I've just finished another feature called "Big Steve Long," a Western set in Wyoming during the 1860s, inspired by the true story of an outlaw who vows to tame Laramie City, and a lawman who vows to kill him.
Are there books you’d recommend on writing screenplays?
I suggest The Screenwriter's Bible, by David Trottier, who is a script consultant. I've read David's book, and it's very good. David also offers editing and teaching services. Although I've never hired him, I'm sure he's very good. There are a lot of other consultants on the Internet; but, again, I suggest that anyone interested in writing screenplays should start with David's book.
Here are a few other books I've found helpful: Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder; Story, by Robert McKee; and Screenplay, by Syd Field.Your readers could go to InkTip, too; they'd be able to get a notion of the screenwriting world; and they wouldn't have to join (although joining is free).