This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 408 – Make a Movie, It’s .
SYS 408 – Make a Movie, It’s “Time Now”
Ashley Meyers: Welcome to Episode 408, of the selling your screenplay Podcast. I’m Ashley Scott Myers, screenwriter and blogger with selling your screenplay.com. Today, I am interviewing writer director Spencer King who just did a really cool feature thriller called, “Time Now” we talked through this film, as well as his first feature film a film called, “Black Petunia” and how he’s been able to get these films produced, so stay tuned for that interview.
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So, quick few words about what I’m working on. So, we got another film festival acceptance with the Rideshare Killer. But of course, they’re not actually screening any films supposedly because of COVID. So, like a lot of the other festivals, it was sort of a waste. I suspect what these online festivals are doing is basically accepting every single film so that filmmakers feel they got something for their money. But the film festival industry has really just deteriorated into a bunch of scamy festivals that don’t even really try and offer much value to filmmakers. So really, I’d say the festivals have been a bit of a disappointment for us with the Rideshare Killer. And again, I do acknowledge the fact that COVID has made things more difficult but at the same time, the good festivals are running actual in person events while the crappier low-end festivals just seem to use it as an excuse. Even here in Los Angeles movie theatres have been open for months. So, there really is no excuse to say you’re running going to run a film festival. And then on the other hand, say you can’t do any screenings because of COVID. I’ve mentioned this before, and I’m starting to really look into this, I’m going to run my own festival next year and hopefully put on an event that actually does build community around independent film, and also does give some real value to filmmakers, which is what festivals were supposed to be all about. So, hopefully my festival can kind of carry on that tradition. Anyways, that’s my rant for the day, we’re moving along. Otherwise, with the Rideshare Killer, we’re still working on all the deliverables. We got the final credits finalized this week, that was nice. Mostly what we’re doing now is waiting for the poster. And we’re going to do the final output of the movie here. As I said, hopefully in the next week, when my editor has some time, there’s just some technical things, we’ve got to put the distributors logo at the front of the movie. And, and then there’s a specific format that they want the film delivered in Pro-Res 422 or they have a whole basically a criterion, for exactly what you have to do. And there’s different sound versions, we have the 5.1 audio, you know the regular stereo audio. So, you just need to output all of these different versions of the film. So, you have them for the different places that potential you’re going to show your movie. So, we’ve got to work through that stuff. But we are making some progress. I’m excited to see the poster I haven’t heard from those guys this week. But hopefully they’re still working away. And we’ll have something here in the next couple of weeks. I’m excited to share the poster with the world get it out there. That’s you know, as I said, it’s kind of fun part of the process, is kind of seeing everything come together. And the poster is definitely like a cool piece of that. Anyway, those are the main things that I had been working on.
So, now let’s get into the main segment. Today I am interviewing writer, director, Spencer King. And I apologize, in advance the quality this audio wasn’t great, but I thought it was an interesting interview. So please just bear with it a little bit. And hopefully, you’ll get some good information out of it. Anyway, here is the interview.
Ashley Meyers: Welcome Spencer to Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I really, appreciate you coming on the show with me today.
Spencer King: Thanks for having me.
Ashley Meyers: So, to start out maybe you can tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up? And how did you get interested in the entertainment business?
Spencer King: Well, I grew up in LA. So, I was surrounded by the entertainment industry. And it started I would write short films my own and just stories and stuff like that. And then I’d make projects with my friends. And then when I moved to Michigan, when I was in college, is when I really started making films and I lived there for about five years and that’s where I eventually wrote and directed “Time Now”.
Ashley Meyers: Okay, gotcha, gotcha. So, it looks like on IMDb, you did a movie in 2016 called “Black Petunia”. Maybe you can talk about that quickly. How did you get that one produced? And how did that ultimately lead to “Time Now”?
Spencer King: Well, it led directly to “Time Now” I was actually 18 years old. And I directed that movie that was just me and a bunch of friends. And we came together and we really like a crash course in film school, basically. I didn’t go to film school. So, I really think I learned, I learned the ebbs and flows of making a film through that project. A lot of the people that worked on “Time Now” were a part of that project as well. So, that was really the catalyst to eventually leading to “Time Now”.
Ashley Meyers: Gotcha, gotcha. Okay, so let’s talk about maybe some of those folks that you were involved with “Black Petunia”, and how did you kind of get in with all those people, originally?
Spencer King: Yeah. Well, it started there was a woman named Crystal Starr, who I think is, I’m happy that you asked me about that. Because she is an amazing collaborator with me, she really helped that project get off the ground. And she actually wasn’t a part of this final project in “Time Now” but we still in touch. I thank her all the time for getting stuck in that. Because she really, is someone I respect and she really was like the first person in Detroit that was like, oh you, want to help you do what you want to do. So, she’s a big part of that and then yeah, then Josh Cowdrey, who is an associate producer, he composed “Black Petunia”. And he is one of the people that I send every, every draft of every script I write to. So, a lot of people that are…
Ashley Meyers: Gotcha. Okay, so let’s dig into “Time Now” a little bit. Maybe to start out, you can just give us a quick pitch or a logline, what does this film all about?
Spencer King: It’s about a woman returning to her hometown of Detroit, where after her brother dies, and she’s reconnecting with her estranged family, who she has really cut ties with, she’s trying to figure out who her brother became, as a person and an artist in the city of Detroit, and reconnect with her family. And she starts to realize that he’s death might not be quite what it’s seems.
Ashley Meyers: And where did this idea come from? That was the genesis of the story?
Spencer King: You know, it started in just being in the art scene and being in that culture around that culture and, wanting to do something that was grounded in the city. And then there was an inspiration about a character dynamic, character cache, who are the two main characters in the film and the script took a million different lists in terms of the four years that I was working on it, but that’s where it started, was just the city of Detroit inspiring.
Ashley Meyers: So, as you were developing this project, what was sort of your goals like, what were you trying to accomplish with it? And I’m talking about, you know artistically and professionally.
Spencer King: Yeah, because I was trying to make something as visceral that was emotional that, the audience could put themselves in a couple of these character’s shoes and understand, you know the process of grieving that all these characters are going through, and that’s something that I’ve always been stumped on, the concept of grief you know, for a long time it blows my mind but it’s true. It’s very fascinating, how we all deal with it and that’s really what this film is about.
Ashley Meyers: Gotcha. Gotcha. So, let’s talk about your writing process a little bit. Where do you typically write and when do you typically write? Do you have like a home office, do you need to go to Starbucks and hear the ambient noise, what does that look like for you?
Spencer King: No, I don’t. I cannot write in front of anyone else I need to be like on my couch with a full surround sound of film score playing and location wise, writing to me always starts with characters. I’m not really a plot writer and it’s something that I want to work on more, writing for plot, but for me, it always starts with characters and it usually ends at character to. I feel like most of stuff I write is a character study.
Ashley Meyers: Gotcha. So, what is your, how much time do you spend doing the outline and how much time do you spend in final draft actually cranking out script pages?
Spencer King: I spend a lot of time in final draft. I usually, I try to avoid final draft but it just always comes and as I try and spend time prepping but I just wind up in final draft. So, I’m doing you know I try and be organized but a lot of it just has to be flushed through for me. A lot of times, I just need to get it out and then I need to look back at it with a more sober head. And yeah, and go from there.
Ashley Meyers: Gotcha, gotcha. So, just talk a little bit about your development process. It sounds like you have a producer that you trust. And so, you get notes from that person. But just how do you get you once you have a draft that you’re done, what does that look like? Do you have a few people? And how do you handle those notes, if you get notes that you don’t necessarily agree with? How do you handle those? And if you get notes from people, from two different people that are maybe opposing notes, how do you kind of work through that?
Spencer King: Yeah. Well, Hamill the producer on this, he was very involved in scripting this. He, you know, had told me stuff that I disagreed with, and I had there, you know and it’s hard to take your ego out of things sometimes, you know, and that’s something I’ve dealt with for a long time on this is, you know, you said something that contradicts someone says, something in contradiction to how you feel. And you know, you feel angry and defensive. And then sometimes you sleep on them and you’re like, man, they’re right actually. So, it’s important to have an open mind and understand that. Someone critiquing you, you know, someone doing that. I mean, they care about what you’re what you’re working on. So, you know it’s honestly, when you look at it that way, it’s a compliment, but sometimes hard in the moment to do things that way.
Ashley Meyers: So, once you were done with the script, what were some of these next steps? It sounds like maybe your producer was already involved in the development of the script? Did he have funding lined up? What do you guys do then to kind of get this thing from script actually into production?
Spencer King: Well, if we didn’t end up filming it, I would still be working on the script. I was working on this step up until literally the last day of the shoot. I’m always, it’s impossible for me to put anything down. You know, once we had a script that we were good with, like, you know, we had a script that we that we took out to financiers and it was in a look book. So, that’s what we did that get financing from there.
Ashley Meyers: Gotcha. Gotcha. So, what’s next for you, are you working on something else? Do you have other projects in the pipeline?
Spencer King: Yeah. Well, I’ve my next film that. That will, I’m not yet in pre-production, but I will be going into production soon. I hope so.
Ashley Meyers: Gotcha. How can people see “Time Now”? Do you know what the release schedule is going to be like?
Spencer King: Yeah, well, it’s on video on demand right now. And you can get it on iTunes and Amazon and all those for purchase, for the on-demand places and then we’re hoping to do a theatre release in New York, LA in Detroit, and then hopefully get it on a stream, by 2022. But right now, video on demand, you can grab it on there.
Ashley Meyers: Okay, perfect, perfect. Is there anything you’ve seen recently that you thought was really great? Anything on Netflix, Hulu, HBO, that you thought was really great and might be useful for screenwriters to take a look at?
Spencer King: Yeah, so I’m not out yet. But I just thought at the Austin Film Festival, which we premiered our film at it, but the “Worst Person in the World” It’s a Danish movie, and it will be coming out very soon. It was the best movie I’ve seen in a long time.
Ashley Meyers: What was the title, again?
Spencer King: The Worst Person in the World.
Ashley Meyers: The Worst Person in the World. Gotcha. So perfect. Yeah, we’ll keep an eye out for that. What’s the best way for people to keep up with what you’re doing? Twitter, Facebook, blog, Instagram, anything you’re comfortable sharing, I will round up for the show notes.
Spencer King: I mean, welcome to follow me on Instagram, @Spencereking, no spaces or anything. I often post little stuff about the film, but that “Time Now” does not have social media accounts and stuff like that. So, follow me gets an update from there.
Ashley Meyers: Gotcha. Gotcha. Well, Spencer, I really appreciate you coming on and taking a few minutes to talk with me. Good luck with this film and good luck with all your future projects as well.
Spencer King: Thank you so much. Have a good one.
Ashley Meyers: You too. Talk to later. Bye.
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Again, that’s sellingyourscreenplay.com/consultants. On the next episode of the podcast, I’m going to be interviewing screenwriter Jaime Nash. He is a writer who has made a career out of working far from Hollywood. He actually lives in Maryland, where I’m originally from, he talks about how he was able to break into the business all while working a regular job as a computer programmer again while living in Maryland. He also, wrote the TV version of “Blake Snyder Saved the Cat”. So, we talk about that book as well. We do get into some TV writing. It’s another just inspiring story again, a guy didn’t have connections, didn’t live in Hollywood, but has been able to make a career for himself, living far from Hollywood. So, keep an eye out for that episode next week. That’s our show. Thank you for listening.