Ashley: Welcome to Episode #236 of the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I’m Ashley Scott Meyers, screenwriter and blogger of the www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today I’m interviewing writer- director York Alec Shackleton who just did a feature film called 211 starring Nicholas Cage. We talk through his early years as a professional snowboarder and then doing some edgy documentaries and how he was able to turn those experiences into a career as a feature film writer and director. Stay tuned for that interview. First though we have a special announcement from filmmaker Ron Newcomb who’s put together a film summit in August in the Washington DC area. So here is Ron to tell us about the summit and a little bit about his background.
Ashley: Welcome Ron to the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. Thanks for coming on the show today.
Ron: Hey Ashley, I really appreciate you having me.
Ashley: So in a minute we’re gonna talk about your upcoming VIP Film Summit, but I thought first, maybe you could tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up and how did you get interested in the entertainment business?
Ron: Yeah, I grew up just outside of Washington DC. My dad was a cop and so I grew up in the suburbia of the DC area and of course grew up in the ‘70s and the ‘80s where we had the epic ‘80s fantasy and just fell in love with the power of film as so many of us did. In particular I remember watching Of Mice and Men, this black and white TV version and it brought me to tears. I was probably only about seven years old but it was just imprinted on my little brain back then, the power of cinema and the power of story. And so like most of us again I started to do little plays and stories with friends, played a lot of role playing games. I’d be a Jack Monday through Friday but then I’d sneak out to my buddies house on Saturday and we’d go play role playing games. So it really primed the pump for my imagination.
It wasn’t until I got a little older and really tried acting…Because I went to a college, they didn’t really have many sports, so I tried acting out, fell in love with acting. That was my doorway into film. And then actually when I was a police officer I met another cop buddy of mine. I had kind of self-taught myself how to format a script and had written a screenplay and found out another cop buddy of mine was desiring to be an actor. So he read the script, fell in love with the script and then he later told me, “Hey man, I’m gonna do a movie.” This was right when Digital first started to kind of be a thing. And I was so impressed with what he did. The guy’s name is Jim Clark. He’s now an actor out in LA, just did a film [inaudible 00:02:40] Keanu Reeves.
So he’s done pretty well for himself. That sparked in me the ability and the desire that we could do it. That the playing field has become a little bit more level and that we could do it if we just did it together.
Ashley: Yeah, perfect. So let’s dig into your VIP Film Summit. Maybe to start you can just tell us what it’s all about.
Ron: Yeah, this really is my desire at the beginning of the year just trying to make a commitment to level up my film making whatever that might mean. And so I designated three primary areas. I could level up by either getting a manager or an agent or meeting with a development exec. Number two is I could find the right producing partner because how many indie filmmakers say, “I’m gonna get myself on Netflix and stuff,” and you run down the rabbit hole? It’s very difficult to become a Netflix original [laughs]. So the right producing partner or third, to find investors and to make it myself. I’ve done films in the past. I did a film that internationally got on the shelves of Walmart and did well enough to kind of get me addicted to this whole thing but not well enough to send me on a full trajectory full blown career.
So I’ve had dip back into the workforce but this is my desire to bring those people. I’m flying in managers, agents, producing partners and investors to the DC area and [inaudible 00:04:04] so that we can all get stuff in production in various stages of production. I came off of a TV show last year and when I turned the pivot there just wasn’t anything else hiring in our area. And instead of waiting around for the state to get the tax incentives right I just decided, you know what, let’s get these people here. And the more I started to talk to other filmmakers, particularly writers, they were excited about that potential opportunity. Like wow, it’s like a no brainer. They’ve gone to Pitchfest but I wanted to not only be able to pitch people but I wanted to hear what they had to say.
I wanted a great networking opportunity and those are the things that I’ve kind of set up. So there’s three predominant panels and then 10 filmmakers get to get up and do a 90 second pitch. Writers know what that is, pretty much like the log line and maybe a quick synopsis. Really the desire is to get to that second meeting. The goal is not necessarily to close the deal.
Ashley: Yeah, perfect. So you just mentioned a whole array of things. Who is your perfect attendee? Who are the people that could get the most out of this summit?
Ron: It’s definitely someone…you don’t need to have a finished script. It’s someone that is more than an idea though. You have the log line, you have the synopsis. You may or may not have done a film in the past. You yourself are looking to level up. You’re looking for that right producing partner to pull you up to that next level. That would be ideal. Or maybe you’ve had some marginal success, meaning that you’ve won some festivals with your scripts and you’re looking for that agent or that manager and you just can’t get the right one on the phone or you’re the producing type and you don’t know where the money is, and how can I speak to investors. And so it’s those three kind of tiered people. The best ones I usually see are…it’s the writer-producer types. It’s generally those that have written something and are also ready to produce or co-produce the project.
Ashley: Okay, and maybe you can talk a little bit about some of the guests. Who do you have coming out to speak and network at this event?
Ron: So our investors, we have several. We have someone representing the large China fans. We’re always hearing about this China money. That’s the other thing. I really wanted to vet these people. Legitimate people because people talk in this industry as we all know. So I have another one that’s a film fun manager or a fan manager rather, some military investments, that’s what’s kind of local to the DC area. They’re interested to hear about new opportunities and exploring entertainment. I have a company called Electus coming. So if you’ve seen Marco Polo on Netflix, these guys do a lot of reality television. I have two different managers that they rep producers, writers and directors. So my goal was to give a wide breadth of people to get them on board to get them in the boat. I’ve got [inaudible 00:07:07] coming, Franco [inaudible 00:07:09] coming.
These guys are the producing partners. These are ones where they can get you in front of Netflix and legitimately sell. You can really look them up and certify they are who they say they are. The ball’s in everyone else’s court. I’m trying to roll as fast as I can and do what I can. I do hope people come. You and I were just talking, just the networking alone should be worth the price of admission.
Ashley: Yeah, for sure. And do you have some dates you wanna throw out? The early bird special ends at some point and then when is the actual event date?
Ron: Yeah, the event date is August 25th and the early bird special ends at the end of July and so you wanna make sure you take advantage of it. It’s gonna be at the Dallas Marriott, so we do have some people flying in and you could stay…I have some rooms reserved at the Dallas Marriott and you have to reserve them by the end of the month to get the rate. But August 25th it’s pretty much gonna be…I figure if you’re coming I wanna park this thing. So it’s from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm.
Ashley: And it’s just one day, one day only?
Ron: It’s one, super powerhouse day.
Ashley: Okay, perfect Ron. Well, it sounds like a great event. I am on the West Coast so I won’t be able to attend but I wish I was still there because it sounds like a fantastic event and I wish you the best of luck with it.
Ron: I appreciate is Ashley. Keep doing what you’re doing, I love what you’re doing as well.
Ashley: Perfect, thank you.
So a big thanks to Ron for putting this summit together and coming on the show to tell us about it. There’s really not that many opportunities like this in the Mid Atlantic area. So if you live on the East Coast I really can’t recommend this event strongly enough. For less than $150 you get a full day of learning and networking and it’s hard for me to imagine that this wouldn’t be worth your time and money. So definitely check this out if you live anything close to the Washington DC area. Again, I’ll put the link in the show notes but if you wanna try and go directly there the URL is literally www.vipfilmsummit.com.
If you find this episode viable please help me out by giving me a review in iTunes or leaving me a comment on YouTube or retweeting the podcast on Twitter or liking or sharing it on Facebook. These social media shares really do help spread word about the podcast so they’re very much appreciated.
Any websites or links that I mention in the podcast can be found on my blog in the show notes. I also publish a transcript with every episode incase you’d rather read the show or look at something later on. You can find all the podcast show notes at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/podcast, and then just look for Episode Number #236. If you want my free guide- How to Sell a Screenplay in Five Weeks you can pick that up by going to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide. It’s completely free, you just put in your email address and I’ll send you a new lesson once per week for five weeks along with a bunch of bonus lessons. I teach the whole process of how to sell your screenplay in that guide. I’ll teach you how to write a professional log line and query letter and how to find agents, managers and producers who are looking for material. Really it’s everything you need to know to sell your screenplay. Just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide.
So a quick few word about what I’m working on as mentioned over the last couple of weeks, The Pinch, the crime thriller feature film that I wrote, directed and produced last year is for a limited time available for sale on the website. Just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/thepinch. The Pinch is all one word and all lower case. I’m gonna keep it up for sale on the website for the next couple of weeks and then I will be rolling it out to iTunes and Amazon after that. Also for just an extra five dollars you can bundle The Pinch with the three-hour webinar that I did on making the film. I go into great detail about every aspect of making this film, writing the screenplay, raising the money and of course producing the film. This is a great chance to see the completed film and also see the behind the scenes of how I actually got it to completion.
So, I’m now in the final push to prepare The Pinch for widespread distribution. I got the poster back this past week. I just wanna do a shout out to Michael Koch who is the graphic designer I’ve worked with on this poster. He did a fantastic design for this poster and I’m really appreciative of him. He’s a great designer living and working in the New York City area. If anyone needs any design worked on, please do let me know. I can’t recommend this guy enough. So again a big thanks to Michael for being so patient with me and working incredibly hard to get this poster finished. Thank you Michael on that. I will hopefully be able to show that to everybody next week. We’re just getting the final versions laid out. I’m gonna get a poster printed for the film festival that we’re going to in August. So just some last minute things to get it tweaked.
I was also tweaking the trailer last week so I should have the final version of that trailer done hopefully again by this time next week and I’ll have something that I can link to maybe in the podcast episode next week. I also got my deliverables into the Action On Film Festival, that is the festival that we’re premiering at in August. We got our screening date for Action On Film this past week as well. It’s gonna be Wednesday August 22nd at 10.00 pm at the Brandon Theater which is in the Palms Casino again in Las Vegas. If you live in the Las Vegas area please do stop by. It would be great to meet some of the people who listen to this podcast. And so my goal right now after the screening…we’re gonna do the screening in August at the Action On Film festival. That’s gonna effectively be our world premiere.
And then after that I’ll be releasing the film again through iTunes, Amazon, any of those other similar platforms. So late August, early September release and then that will be it. Then I’ll start doing some promotions to try and just to generate some eyeballs and get some interest into the film and then that will be it, I’ll be moving on to my next project. So that’s The Pinch. Once again if you have any interest in checking that out just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/thepinch.
So now let’s get into the main segment. Today I am interviewing filmmaker York Alec Shackleton. Here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome York to the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I really appreciate you coming on the show with me today.
York: Yeah, thanks so much for having me on.
Ashley: 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?
York: Yeah, I grew up in Southern California. When I was really young I was really into sports, you know, skate boarding, snowboarding, that kind of stuff. Through my years I was doing a lot of that. At the time the sports were very new and they were emerging, and so there was a lot of people that had interest for commercials and different types of stunt work and stuff like that. That was kind of in a weird way how I initially began in the industry. So through doing that I was always very drawn to the behind the camera side of it and I was always very interested in what that was entailing. So I would spend as much time as I could just kind of watching and trying to learn and at one point I started. You just have to start. And so I started writing a little bit, I met a couple of guys that had some experience and got some pointers from them and just started writing.
I wrote a little short film and we made it. It was a little comedy and we ended up getting an award for it on the internet. This is a while ago, long before there was YouTube or any of the official video sites. This was iFilm back in at that time. And so I was like, “Maybe we got something.” From that I kind of tried to be very analytical about it and create stepping stones for myself knowing that I didn’t have any experience from school, I didn’t have really a lot of connections so I knew that I had to really master my craft. And so I was smart about choosing subjects that I know I could get made and that I could use the fundamentals of making films that I taught myself ultimately moving people emotionally with your story and your pictures and your sound.
And so I started doing some documentary films because I knew that I could really capture some exclusive subjects and move people with that and started choosing documentary style feature films where there were true stories about people, journals and stuff like that I would derive from. And I realized that you could really make some great films at really good prices and get a lot of it done on your own. So that’s how I kind of did it myself and kind of kicked a lot of doors open. And then obviously you have to continue on.
Ashley: Yeah, sure. How many of these shots and documentaries? It sounds like you’re basically self-funding these at this point just trying to kind of get the ball rolling. How many of these did you do to kind of get the career going?
York: A little bit of that. I mean, the first short film I was self-funded. It didn’t cost any money. I had an apartment in Hollywood and a buddy of mine who was a filmmaker who was kind of mentoring me a little bit on writing, directed it for me. So he came over, we did it at my house, we used a couple of friends who were actors and we got that done. Then I went and I did a documentary in Tijuana on prostitution. It was more like a human rights film exposing a lot of violence and corruption in the government. And that I needed a little bit of money for, so I went to a friend of mine who…he’s a political family member, he’s Barry Goldwater. He ended up producing it for me and kind of helped keep me out of trouble while I was doing it.
That was maybe $14,000 I think we spent to do that, and that film ended up going to Cannes Film Festival. And so when I went there I got to meet a lot of great people and I ended up getting myself invited to UCLA Film School. So when I went there I studied marketing development and distribution of independent films because I wanted to understand the business side of it. So then from that point forward I was really structuring a lot of the films and the production, the way they were getting financed in a very traditional manner by just simplifying it all down. So what I would do is I would obviously write a screenplay that I knew everything was on the page and it would really work and it was something that was designed for the market place at that time, whether it be horror at the certain time…
You got to do your research and you got to see what’s selling at the markets and what’s the industry and each company that you’re gonna be going to what they’re specializing in. And so I would obviously develop the material and then I would go and get myself some sort of real small, limited distribution and no guarantee of any money but just a guarantee that if the movie comes out and it gets completed that they’ll distribute it. Well, that was enough for me to go and get a little bit of financing because I was only maybe looking for $50,000 or $100,000. And so I’d be able to get that through private resources that I just would get connected to. I would then package the film with as strong of a cast as I could, try to get a couple of names that were recognizable, nobody that is really [inaudible 00:18:00] but people that you can recognize and you know are solid actors.
And then we’d go make the film and we’d complete the film, make our days and ultimately deliver it to the distributor and get them out in the market. So it was really very quickly on that I kind of shifted into more of a traditional format of how films are put together. A bit of a tricky business when it comes to that.
Ashley: Yeah, and I’m curious, you’re throwing around these terms, designed for the market place, getting a couple of names, getting the distribution lined up, not necessarily a minimum guarantee but getting that lined up. How did you get this experience sort of on the business side? Was that just from hanging around these other Hollywood types that had some business experience? What would you recommend for people to gain the same sort of insight and sort of the fundamentals of the business?
York: So like I said I was at UCLA so I took marketing development and distribution. So I learned an enormous amount in those classes. And being at UCLA you’re right down the street from other studios. So one of the classes specifically was pretty much speakers every single week. And there was a different person from the industry. You have studio heads coming through different types of distributors, marketing teams. And these are people that are active right then, that day doing something on a film that’s about to come out. So you’re really getting some great insight from some of these classes. I would then kind of compound upon that and I would start to go to AFM- the American Film Market and I would see what was going on there and I would go on the booths and I would talk to distributors and I would meet them.
Through that you can really begin to see how that side of business works. That you can write a screenplay, you can get that movie made. And now you’ve made this film and it’s completed, but it’s gonna take on this whole other life once it goes into the distribution chain. You got to think about how that film is gonna be marketed and who it’s gonna be marketed to. So when I say sitting into the market place, it’s more of educating yourself on what these distributors are selling, what types of films they’re looking for, what actors are bankable in certain territories that are strong for a certain distributor. There’s just an enormous amount of information that’s out there that you can go and get and that will help you when you make your decisions both creatively and business wise.
Ashley: So, just as a specific example, you just mentioned like knowing which actors are gonna have value in which territories, how can you get that information? Is it as simple as just trying to network with distributors who are on the ground making sales or is there some resource that you’d maybe recommend?
York: Yeah, there isn’t really…that’s the one thing- some of this information these distributors wanna keep it for themselves because it’s a lot of a data research they’re doing. But if you’re [inaudible 00:20:54] and you have access to distributors groups they’re gonna tell you who they’re hot for, who they want and who they’re looking for. A lot of them will put out these reports and if you are working with a studio or a distributor they’re gonna give you that information of who at this moment in time in every six months window who’s really on this A, B and C lists, what they would call bankability I guess. And so you can get it through those kind of channels or really just be at the shows and the trade shows and the trade shows and so the information is just there.
You can see this because you can see that posters are out there. What films have big money behind them, who’s [inaudible 00:21:33] and who they’re using in them. You can get a lot of it from just being there. That’s where I would get most of the knowledge that I was getting, was just from being there and being around it and hearing and listening and being very observant of everything that’s going on.
Ashley: Yeah, that’s great. Good practical tips. Just real quickly I wanna just talk about you mentioned you took the documentary to Cannes. Maybe you can talk about that process. At this stage of your career you’re not necessarily a well-known director. So maybe you can talk about that process of getting into Cannes without necessarily having like a murky name behind you.
York: Yeah, so we had the distributors carry an enormous amount of weight with the film festivals because that’s what those film festivals are ultimately really designed for. It’s a market place for films, films to foreign buyers. And so they create the festival aspect of it and I think the screening aspect of it really more for opportunities for publicity and create hype around certain projects. So there’s a lot of different levels you can be on. And so for me I was able to get my film picked up by a very small third tier distributor but who had very strong connections at Cannes Film Festival and did an enormous amount of sales there and dealt primarily in foreign distribution. And so he was kind of connected and therefore powerful enough to get the film not into real strong competition really but just into screenings at the festival.
And so being someone who was very young and had no real track record to be there was a pretty wild experience and you get to see the global aspect of filmmaking and begin to understand that we’re just a domestic market place here in the United Stated. That’s one small, small category when I kind of start thinking of 36 territories and probably even more than that and now you’ve got all these different avenues for distribution with new media and everything on the internet. So it was really more about being there and being part of this huge machine and seeing all the opportunities and where you can really go with it all.
Ashley: Yeah. How did you get that distributor that was able to get it into Cannes? Was that a cold submission, was that through networking, somebody you knew?
York: No, it was not through networking. I had actually done a film when I was a snowboarder- a feature film. I kind of made friends with the production company which was also the distribution company and that was also the ultimately the company I have gone to. So I had been on the film, I was just doing some stunts and some acting and then I was telling them, “You know, I’m gonna start making my own movies. I was really kind of hanging out with everybody that I could meet and every project that I was on I was taking as much advantage of it as I could. And so I was telling them, “You know, I’m gonna start making my own stuff.” So then when I did, about a year goes by and then I went back to them and I said, “Okay well, I did!” And they were like, “What?” And so I showed it to them and obviously that film Las Paraditas stands for itself.
It’s a pretty exclusive documentary and a lot of people have tried to go get that subject but haven’t been able to. So that was another thing. The subject I chose I knew would kind of kick some doors open just on its own when people saw it. I knew it was not something that just anybody could get.
Ashley: Yeah, perfect. So let’s dig into your latest film 211 starring Nicholas Cage. To start out maybe you can give us a quick pitch or a log line for the film. What’s this film all about?
York: Basically he plays a police officer who’s kind of at the end of his career getting ready to retire and he’s on a ride along mission for the day with his partner. So they’ve got this young kid in the back seat who has been a bully victim at school and he ends up fighting back to protect himself, and he’s the one who ends up getting in trouble. So as they’re doing their ride along kind of going through their Monday in day they come across a bank robbery that’s in progress. And so like the North Hollywood shootout, I’m not sure if you guys are aware of that situation but that’s what we used as a kind of underlying route for the story because as we were developing it we were looking for something that was a very condensed action movie that was kind of one location but yet had some really strong dramatic elements to it.
And so that’s where the movie really just kind of takes off and becomes an hour long stand up between these heavily armed thieves and these very under armed and under equipped police officers who are caught sleeping in the very beginning. And ultimately it culminates in the end with them progressing to take them out and Nick Cage is pretty much the eyes of the audience as you’re following him through his journey in experiencing this whole thing.
Ashley: I see, perfect. Let’s dig into your writing process a little bit. Where do you typically write?
York: At home just on my couch usually. I have a unique process of writing. For me I don’t do an enormous amount of outlining ahead of time. I get right into it and just start. I have a pretty strong vision of what I want the film to be because on a more developed film now it’s a very analytical process, almost in a lot of ways like reversed engineering. I’ll sit down in the studio, I’ll sit down with everyone involved and we’ll kind of say, “This is what our end [inaudible 00:26:59] is. This is what we want the film to be and where we want it to go and who we want to be in it.” And then I can then create these stepping stones backwards of how to get to that place. This is all kind of from experience and now really understanding a lot of how everything works.
And so like with this film specifically we said, “Okay, we want a very condensed action movie, one location with a lot of dramatic elements.” I started researching and remembered that North Hollywood shoot out situation, started looking into that and realized okay, here’s something we can use as a route and then we can start to take liberties to bring in some sub [inaudible 00:27:33] or some story lines that will help accommodate actors performances in being able to have a really strong and well-rounded film.
Ashley: It sounds like this is all sort of your outlining phase, you’re kind of just preparing to actually do the writing, correct?
York: Yeah. So then when I sit down to it I have a real and strong idea in my head of structurally how it’s gonna be and I’ll start outlining it just page one and I’ll do about 60 pages and that will be the whole story laid out in pretty much action lines, a few dialogue pieces here and there, but it’s pretty much all action lines. And then from that point…those were written in a way that they’ll trigger me in my mind to remember exactly how that will need to be expanded out and so then on the second passes I start going through them and expanding that out. And then in about three passes I’ll have it as 100 pages and everything is kind of placed where it needs to be. I don’t have a lot of restructuring or anything that needs to be done at that point and then we start polishing down. And so it’s a very precise way of doing it and it gets you there very quickly as long as you really have a strong vision and know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish.
Ashley: Yeah. And so what does that development process look like? It sounds like you brought in a studio or a distributor early on. After you have this third, fourth draft that you’re happy with do you send them the script, do you get notes, do you have some other people, writer friends or something that give you notes on your material?
York: Yeah, I do. I have a few friends and some people that give it out to. Obviously my representation, we work very closely and have for a long time now. I’ve been doing this for almost 10 years and so I’ve been with the same people since the beginning. So we’ve got just a strong connection and trust between all of ourselves, send it out to a small group of people, get notes from them. When the studio gets involved that obviously becomes much more of a collaboration because they’re ultimately financing and distributing and they’re on before the film is being made. So they’ve got just as much say as anybody and we all work as a team and everyone has input because there’s so much more to the process than just making the film. You have to really be thinking about how you’re gonna be marketing the film as well and what elements you’re gonna need to capture during production that are gonna help with the marketing.
Ashley: Yeah. How do you approach the screenplay structure? There’s sort of the Syd Field, Blake Snyder very much the three acts…sort of the traditional three act structure. Some people are may be a little more fluid. What’s your take on screenplay structure?
York: Yeah, I think there’s that old saying “You have to know the rules to be able to break them”. So I studied for a very long time silent film and I studied really how to structure telling stories with just using pictures and films only without the dialogue. You begin to learn that you can tell a whole story like that. So if you come at it from that point of view trying to only tell your story with just pictures and sounds and then gesturing and dialoguing when you absolutely need to I think is when your product becomes much more organic that way. That’s definitely one way I’ve grown to kind of start to look at it.
Ashley: Yeah, and what about genre requirements especially with a film like this, a Nicholas Cage sort of action movie? In action films there’s the typical thing of you need an action set piece every 10 pages. Are there any genre requirements that maybe the studio was pushing on you or just how do you sort of face those whether it be an action movie or even I guess horror or any of these genres thrillers?
York: Yeah, not as technical. I think it’s more of look we’re making an action movie so we need action. So if you’re writing and you’re going through 20 pages and there really isn’t a lot of action, they’re gonna say, “Hey look, we need to get in some action here.” So I don’t think it’s as technical as hitting page breaks and character bombs and that kind of stuff at certain moments as you just have more of an overall balance of action to drama. So you wanna have those really heavy action moments then you wanna come out of those and give the audience a little bit of a breath and tell them more of the story and set them back up and then come back in for even stronger action. And there has to be somewhat of a heartbeat to that all the way through otherwise it becomes very redundant when you just have the same thing kind of being repetitious.
Ashley: Yeah, for sure. So at what point did Nicholas Cage become involved with this project? Did you have a script and did you get financing or did you get Nicholas Cage involved before financing?
York: No, so I had written the screenplay and obviously Millennium team and picked the movie up and wanted to make it. So we were getting ready to start casting it and they had worked with him a lot in the past and wanted to work with him again and so we had a connection to his representation and obviously the studio had a strong connection with him. So we [inaudible 00:32:24] to him and offered him the role and I guess he read the screenplay and he really liked it. And you know, that’s where it all starts with the screenplay and it’s got to be on the page. That’s one of the things I can tell the listeners is that you got to write your screenplay in a way where it draws that actor and makes them wanna do it.
And so he read it, he liked it and he wanted to meet with me so I flew out and met him and we read it once together and we talked about how I wanted to do the character and what he wanted to do with it and everything and we hit it off and so he said, “Yeah, I’ll do it.” And so that’s kind of how that came together and we were off shooting it maybe about a month later.
Ashley: Perfect. What advice do you have for people trying to break in whether it be TV or documentaries or feature films?
York: I mean, I would say you got to get out there and just do it. I see a lot of people kind of working on a screenplay, working on a screenplay, and you got to remember they’re never gonna be perfect. You just got to get to a point where you trust that it’s where it need to be and it’s gonna work and it’s gonna translate on the screen. And if you really kind of get hung up on if people are gonna like it or not those are some of the obstacles that people will trip over. You can never control that- 51/49. Hopefully 51% like it and not 49 because that’s just how it is. Half are gonna and half aren’t. Some people might watch it today and dislike it and watch it a week from now and they really enjoy it because something in their lives happened that they now relate to in that film.
So I think you just need to trust your instincts as a filmmaker and educate yourself who you can trust in and then you just do what you wanna do and you put it out there and that’s the best that you can do. But without putting it out there you’re not gonna ever really compete. So get in the game.
Ashley: Yeah, for sure. What’s next for you, what else are you working on?
York: I’m going into Alabama here in a couple of weeks. I’m gonna go shoot a movie with Guy Pearce called Deserving The Peace for Voltage. Yeah, that should be fun. It’s gonna be another [inaudible 00:34:24] movie. It’s about a small town Marshall and these guys come into town to rob an Indian Casino and he ends up stopping them.
Ashley: Perfect. Have you seen anything that you would recommend to our viewers? Anything on Netflix, HPO? I just kind of like to wrap up the interviews just kind of getting a feel for what the guest is watching.
York: This is what I can tell you, I watch films whenever I’m writing or whatever I’m working on, I’ll create a playlist of films that inspire me in a lot of different ways whether it be shots or the music feelings or anything that I just think of that film or those series of films relate to kind of in a sense I’m gonna get it. I’ll play those in my house just on the loop over and over and over again. I’ll catch certain moments as I’m walking through the living room and you start to see a movie in pieces rather than in a full… plain, whole entirety. And it just starts to give you this different perspective. You start to notice background extras performances and things like that.
I don’t know, it’s hard to explain but I can tell you that doing that I picked up just an enormous amount of subtle things that come out when I’m directing and I’m on set that sometimes I don’t even think about it. I’m like, [inaudible 00:35:42] but I realize it’s because subconsciously I’ve been having playlists of films looping for months before I go and do that film. So I just have a lot of stuff engrained in me. That’s what I do. I know I got Blade Runner going, I got Florida, I got Snowman, I got American Maid, I got Dunkirk, I got Wind River. That’s kind of on my playlist right now sitting on the top of this counter.
Ashley: Yeah, nice. How can people see 211, do you know what the release schedule is gonna be like?
York: Yeah, I know it’s coming out in the States June 8th and there’s already some formal releases set. I’m not sure on those dates but definitely June 8th here in the United States in theaters they’re having [inaudible 00:36:28].
Ashley: Perfect. And what’s the best way for people to keep up with what you’re doing? Twitter, Facebook, a blog, anything you’re comfortable sharing I’ll round up for the show notes.
York: Yeah, I’ve got all those. I’ve got Twitter and Facebook, they’re all my name York Shackleton. Yeah, come hang out and say hi. I try to answer everyone’s questions if anyone comes over there and wants to know what’s going on I try to keep up with everybody as much as possible.
Ashley: Yeah, perfect. So I’ll round that up and put those in the show notes so people can click over. Well York, I really appreciate. This has been a great interview, lots of great insight. I wish you well with this film.
York: Thanks so much, I really appreciate it.
Ashley: Thank you, will talk you later.
York: Okay, take care.
A quick plug for the SYS screenwriting analysis service. It’s a really economical way to get a high quality professional evaluation on your screenplay. When you buy our three pack you get evaluations at just $67 per script for feature films and just $55 for teleplays. All the readers have professional experience reading for studios, production companies, contests and agencies. You can read a short bio on each reader on our website and you can pick the reader who you think is the best fit for your script. Turnaround time is usually just a few days, but rarely more than a week. The readers will evaluate your script on six key factors- concept, character, structure, marketability, tone and overall craft, which includes formatting, spelling and grammar.
Every script will get a grade of pass, consider or recommend, which should help you roughly understand where your script might rank if you were to submit it to a production company or agency. We can provide an analysis on features or television scripts. We also do proofreading without any analysis. We will also look at a treatment or outline and give you the same analysis on it. So if you’re looking to vet some of your project ideas, this is a great way to do it. We will also write you a log line and synopsis for you. You can add this log line and synopsis writing service to an analysis, or you can simply purchase this service as standalone product. As a bonus if your screenplay gets a recommend or a consider from one of our readers, you get to list the screenplay in the SYS Select database which is a database for producers to find screenplays and a big part of our SYS Select program.
Producers are in the data base searching for material on a daily basis so it’s another great way to get your material in front of them. As a further bonus, if your script gets a recommend or consider from one of our readers, your screenplay will get included in our monthly Best Of newsletter. Each month we send out a newsletter that highlights the best screenplays that have come through our script analysis service. This is a monthly newsletter goes out to our list of over 400 producers who are actively looking for material. So again this is another great way to get your material out there. So if you want a professional evaluation of your screenplay at a very reasonable price, check out www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/consultants.
On the next episode of the podcast I’m gonna be interviewing director Matthew Ross who just did a feature film with Keanu Reeves called Siberia. We talk through how this film came together as well as how he was able to jumpstart his career with his first feature film Frank and Lola. Keep an eye out for that episode next week. That’s our show, thank you for listening.