This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 367: With Filmmaker Eli Daughdrill.
Ashley: Welcome to Episode #367 of the Selling Your Screenplay podcast. I’m Ashley Scott Meyers, screenwriter and blogger over at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today, I’m interviewing Eli Daughdrill, who just did an indie drama feature called Faith. He comes on the show to talk about his career and how he got into the film business. It’s a personal story to him and we talk a bit about where this idea came from and why he put it into a screenplay and eventually a full feature film. So stay tuned for that interview. If you find this episode valuable, please help me out by giving me a review in iTunes or leaving me a comment on YouTube or re-tweeting 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 are 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 in case 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 look for Episode Number #367. 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 logline 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 your screenplay, just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide. So a quick few words about what I’m working on, we are still plugging away on The Rideshare Killer. We’re basically done with the trailer. There’s a couple more edits that he is working on, but I should be releasing that in the next week or so. So keep an eye out for the trailer for The Rideshare Killer. We have six effect shots we’re working on, and we have only two of those left to do, those were sent in this week.
So four of those were completed and sent in this week. So slowly but surely this is coming together and I’m just hoping to have this thing done here in a month or two. I did release our annual the budget list, which is the best of low budget screenplays that came through SYS over the last year. This year I pulled scripts that had gotten favorable reviews. Mostly I found these scripts from my analysts, the SYS Script Analysis Service. Obviously we read a lot of scripts over the course of the year. So I looked through that list and then I include the ones that obviously really ought to be low budget, but I include the ones, the best scripts, the low budget that kinda come through the system.
But I do sometimes find, I don’t think this year I’ve found any outside of that, but I do sometimes find scripts outside of that as well. This year I did include the quarter finalists from our annual contest. So basically all the quarter finalists and up, they were also included in the budget list. You can find that on the site, just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com and then just look in the sidebar and you’ll see a link so you can download the full PDF. And of course, last week we did launch our contest, SYS’s Six Figure Screenplay Contest. It’s open for submissions now, just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/contest. The early bird deadline is March 31st. After that, it goes up by $10. So if your script is ready, definitely submit early.
Last year’s winning screenplay Friend Request was actually officially optioned last week, so they’re hoping to shoot it this summer. That’s incredibly exciting. It’s actually a producer and I think he’s also planning on directing it. He was one of our industry judges, found the script, read it, liked it, took it to his contacts. I’m hoping once this thing gets a little more progressed, I’m hoping to have both the writer and the producer on the podcast. Obviously things can still go south, I mean, there’s a lot of variables coming up, but there was an official option and they’re planning on shooting this summer. Again, things can still go wrong, but I think we’re looking pretty good to get the winning script actually produced. And I think that’s fantastic.
I really think that’s the whole purpose of this contest, is to try and help writers get their stuff optioned and ultimately produced. So needless to say, too, I’d been promoting this success to the producers that I talk with as well. So there’s a lot more interest this year from the producers as it seems like our contest has been able to at least find one good script that may go into production. So these producers are now getting a little more interested and I can tell just from talking to them, more of them wanna talk on the phone, more of them, or say, “Hey, give me a call,” and, “What’s the contest all about, how does it work?” So definitely getting a lot more interest.
I think this year I’m up to about 50 industry judges, I think last year I had maybe 30 or 40. So getting more and more industry judges involved is a good thing really for all the writers. Because again, it would just give us more access, more potential to find the right producer for the right script. And so much of this too is really about that. I think all the quarter finalists scripts that I’ve found were pretty good scripts. Certainly the semi-finalist scripts, I think, were all scripts that could be produced. Certainly obviously the finalists and the winner I believe in strongly. But again, it’s really not just a matter of having a good script. It’s a matter of having that good script and matching it to the producer.
In the case of Friend Request, it seems like we might’ve been able to do that. So anyways, I’ll definitely keep everybody abreast as that goes on. As I said, I’m hoping once this thing actually gets to the point where it’s gonna go into production, I’m going to bring both the writer and the producer onto the podcast, so they can kind of talk about what they’re looking for, what they had as an experience and how it all went down. So again, keep an eye out for more announcements coming up, but I’m very excited about this and I think it’s a great thing, not just for Selling Your Screenplay, but potentially for all the people that do enter this contest. Once again, if you wanna find out more about the contest, just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/contest.
So that’s the main thing I’ve been working on over the last couple of weeks, just getting The Rideshare Killer finished and obviously launching the contest. So now let’s get into the main segment. Today I am interviewing writer, director Eli Daughdrill. Here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Eli to the Selling Your Screenplay podcast. I really appreciate you coming on the show with me today.
Eli: Thanks Ashley 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?
Eli: So I grew up in a small town in the center of California, on a farm actually. I guess I just, I became interested in the movies because I didn’t have a social life as a teenager and I watched a lot of films. So that sort of sparked my interest. And as I sort of thought about what I wanted to go out and study when I went to college, that was the sort of thing that’s like, this is what I’m most interested in, and so I’d like to spend four years actually in class with stuff that I’m curious about rather than fulfilling some obligation. Like something that I think I was supposed to do rather than something I wanna do.
Ashley: Yeah, sure. So then what were those steps? What film school did you end up going to?
Eli: So I went to, I started actually community college and then I went to San Francisco State for my undergrad. I got a really good education there. Then from there I actually went to Loyola Marymount for grad school.
Ashley: Okay. What was your degrees in?
Eli: My undergrad degrees in what they called Cinema up there, and Film Production is my degree in, from my master’s degree from LMU.
Ashley: Got you. What is it do you think attracted you to the entertainment industry? Why did you love movies and why did you wanna turn this into an actual career as opposed to just a passing hobby?
Eli: Well, that’s a really good question. What is it? Whatever it is about movies and their ability to get you to, the way they can make you feel, I guess, whatever it is, when it’s really well done, whether it’s they make you laugh or they scare you or they make you feel emotional in some way. That was always sort of profound to me I guess. Even as a kid, like I was, television, movies… I mean, I grew up in a religious household, which I guess we’ll probably get into because of the movie. So there were certain restrictions on the things that we could watch. But even those things that maybe the kind of stuff that we could watch that was maybe a little more tame, that still could affect me in certain ways. So there was just an attraction to the form and what it can do to an audience, I guess.
Ashley: Yeah, for sure. I noticed on your IMDb page, you’ve written and directed a number of short films. First off, how did you get those projects funded and how did they prepare you for feature films?
Eli: So how I got those projects funded, mostly they’re self-funded or in some cases I had grant money. So the way I make my living is actually I’m a professor in a community college. And so there was certain programs that they had going there, don’t have them anymore that I was able to use to help partially fund some of those movies. Then stuff that I did in grad school, just coming out of grad school. Like I did a documentary just coming out of grad school, but that’s self-funded. And I mean, none of these things were expensive. I’m not spending a ton of money on them or anything, and that’s the way I can sell fund them. But yeah, I mean, I remember when I was actually an undergrad, I made a couple of shorts when I was an undergrad and I was talking to one of my peers about it.
He was getting ready, this is up in San Francisco, and he was getting ready to move down here. He said something about like, “Well, I’m not making any more shorts because I feel like I’ve done that, and I’m gonna graduate the features.” He was gonna come down here and do features. I was like, “Well yeah, that’s what I should be doing. That’s what you… we’ve done enough of this, we should make features.” Then I went to grad school and I made a couple shorts and then I made a documentary that’s sort of a short feature. And then I was trying to get Faith made, and one of the things that happens is when you’re trying to make a feature and it’s sort of outside what you can fund, it’s more expensive than the amount of money that you can afford to go to debt for, I guess, you’re not making anything.
Although there was this like, oh, here I am, I’m not doing anything. I was teaching without making anything anymore. I found this opportunity to start doing some shorts and it was sort of reinvigorating because now all of a sudden I’m doing the thing again that I love supposedly. And you’re learning, there’s a sort of rediscovery of the process and you feel… I felt less like a poser, because here I am standing in front of this group of students saying, “Oh, I’m a filmmaker.” And I’d stopped, it’d been, I’m finished my documentary when there’s another five years before I made anything, you know? So you’re just like that was it was really great for me.
Ashley: Yeah, for sure. How do you think those films did prepare you on like a technical level? Just in terms of directing, was there things, is it, do you feel like it’s easy to take that short and just expand it out into a feature? And that’s gonna be kind of our next segment, is talking about exactly that, turning it into Faith.
Eli: I mean, I had the script for Faith before I did any of the shorts. Like, so none of those things are used to sort of inspire the feature. But every time we do it, you’re learning something. You’re learning something about using the camera. You’re learning something about working with actors. You’re learning something about collaborating with crew or how you wanna use music or the way you wanna move or not move the camera. Whatever it is. And so that, just that act of making and learning, is incredibly valuable. Sometimes I think that there’s this, I find this calling card, this phrase of a calling card really sort of, toxic is the wrong word, but harmful, I think for so many young filmmakers, because they think that they need to make their short and it’s got to explode onto the scene to allow them to do the next big thing, which never happens.
I know someone’s going to, “Well, it happened to this person.” Yeah, one in a million. It’s like trying to bank your whole thing on winning the lottery. When it really is about the process of… because filmmaking is incredibly difficult. It’s an incredibly difficult endeavor to try to harness this idea that’s just something that’s happening in your head and it’s on paper into a physical reality that you’re then going to record and to build a marshal, everything that you need from the crew, the camera, working with the actors. It’s incredibly difficult. So this idea that you’re supposed to move, like again, like a conversation I was having with a peer when I was an undergrad, you’re supposed to move from these small little student films that have no…
Well, they have pressure, but they’re such small things, to then all of a sudden this large apparatus, this large canvas of a feature film where there’s so many people and so many things and so much equipment. You need to do a lot of it and practice and get better at it. You know, it’s three days, if it’s a short and it’s three days, three, 10-hour days, you will learn a hell of a lot doing those three, 10 hour days with a crew. That will be incredibly valuable to you no matter what happens with the film. Now, of course, you’re gonna try and make the best short film that you possibly can. You want it to create some sort of knowledge of you as a maker, some sort of value for you. But the first thing is you just got to learn how to do the thing.
You kind of get better at doing the thing. Because there’s nothing natural about it.There’s absolutely nothing natural that you write a scene and you think it’s supposed to be real or authentic or human or whatever. And then when you’re actually doing it, there’s lights, there’s a camera, there’s all these people standing around and these two actors have to sort of expose themselves to be natural or authentic. There’s nothing natural about that. So to learn how to create that environment, you have to be able to, you have to do the process and doing it in a short, it’s so much less, there’s so much less on the line, I guess. Because when it’s a feature and it’s so expensive and there’s money and there’s all these expectations, it’s just so different.
Ashley: Yeah, for sure. So let’s dig into your latest film, the feature film, Faith. Maybe to start out, you can give us a quick pitch or a logline. What is this film all about?
Eli: It’s about a guy who’s a deeply religious, he’s evangelical Christian and something tragic happens and that’s sort of sets off a kind of existential crisis.
Ashley: Okay. Would you consider this film faith-based? Like, are you taking it to that faith-based market?
Eli: No. Now, the distributor, they kind of want it to feel like that, but it’s not a faith-based film. Because the film is too ambiguous. Faith-based films are very, very clear about their intention and what the character, the answer to the characters problems is very clear. Whereas here it’s much more open.
Ashley: Got you. Where did this idea come from? What was the genesis of this story?
Eli: It’s just because of my background. I mean, I grew up an evangelical Christian and I have sort of drifted away from that as a central tenant of my identity, I guess. So, because of that, I’m naturally interested in what happens when someone’s perspective shifts. Now, for me, it’s been a much more gradual thing, certainly. But for, to make a script, to write a script, you need a device. So I created a kind of plot device for a character who was gonna go through that shift, but it’s gonna be much more abrupt than it was in my own personal life.
Ashley: Got you. So let’s talk about your writing process a little bit, and we can talk specifically about Faith. Where do you typically write and when do you typically write? Are you that guy that goes to Starbucks, you need that ambient noise? Do you have a home office? Do you write in the middle of the night, are you a morning person? How does your writing schedule typically go?
Eli: I write when I can find time.
Ashley: Got you. Good answer.
Eli: I’ve got the teaching, I have two children, and so writing is a thing where number one, you have to have something that you are trying to write. There’s something that’s, you sort of feel compelled to do. But then number two, it also becomes a kind of respite against everyday life. Like it’s not answering emails for my job. It’s not doing parenting things or whatever. It can be in the morning, it can be at night. Occasionally I’ll take… well pre COVID, I’ll take a couple of days. My wife is kind enough to let me take a couple of days and I might drive up the coast and just rent an Airbnb and sit and write for those, I have a script now that I’m trying to… my producers and I are trying to get made. And so I just, I did that in February of 2020.
I had a draft of a script that I needed to rewrite and so I just escaped for a couple days and did a rewrite on it. Stuff like that. But it’s just literally finding the time to be able to be able to do it.
Ashley: No, I hear you. So how much time do you spend doing the outline index cards, that sort of thing versus how much time are you actually in final draft, cranking out dialogue and scene description?
Eli: That’s a really good question. There’s definitely more time spent on the pre-writing than the actual screenplay writing. It’s not like a set… like I do outlines, I kind of do it backwards. I mean, I will fill up a notebook with notes. I have an idea for something and I will fill up a notebook with notes and then I will actually write the script, a draft, a horrible draft of a script. Then I will go back and outline it and then write another draft of the script, so then it becomes more structured. The reason I do it that way is because what I found for me, I’m less interested in the mechanics of plot and way more interested in the way character creates circumstances for a story. And so I’m trying to maneuver through what the characters are, what’s happening with the characters.
I tried to do, when I was first starting out, I tried to do the whole index card scene to scene sort of thing, and what I found for me is that plot was driving every, I was trying to come up with these things that are happening to the characters rather than letting the circumstances of what the characters in drive the story. I don’t know if that makes sense at all.
Ashley: Yeah, no, it does. Yeah, it makes perfect sense. And I’d be curious since you’re also a teacher, do you teach a screenwriting class and how do you teach something like that? I mean, that’s always one of the big divides and certainly I’ve noticed in myself is some people come to you and they’re much better with character. Some people come to you, they’re much better with story. How do you teach it to your students?
Eli: I don’t. So I’m not a big fan of screenwriting classes. We have screenwriting classes, but I was never a big fan of them as a student because I think… the key to learning how to write is to write. And screenwriting classes are good for that. They are good for that they compel someone, like you have to write because there is an assignment. You have five pages due next week or whatever it is. But in terms of how to approach structure, I don’t know if I can teach that. I talk more about tone and point of view than anything else. I talk about how are you carrying the tone from one scene to the next. How are you, what is your perspective on this story? How are we supposed to look… what lens are we looking at this story through?
Rather than well, this story beat happens and then this story happens and that’s gonna to connect to this story, because it feels way too much like math to me. I know lots of really interesting films have been written that way, so I don’t wanna just completely disparage it, but it’s just for the way my mind works, and this is the problem with the students taking my class and wanting to learn screenplay mechanics, because I’m terrible at it. The way I’m… the connective tissue for scene to scene in a movie for me is tonality. It’s emotional state. It’s that sort of stuff and how consistent is that and where is it changing? Where are we seeing the character’s shift in perspective?
All that sort of stuff, and that’s kind of the way I’m teaching it rather than again, rising action, falling action, all that sort of stuff.
Ashley: Got you. Let’s talk about your development process a little bit. And we can talk specifically about Faith. So you’ve written a version, a draft of this. What did you start to do to get that out there and get notes? Do you have a bunch of trusted filmmaker friends that you sent it to and got notes? It sounds like you wrote this quite some time ago, so you’ve probably been rewriting it for years, but maybe talk about that process. Once you had that first draft that you were kinda comfortable with, what did your development process look like? Who did you give it to and who did you get notes from and how did it continue to evolve?
Eli: That’s a good question. I can’t even… it’s so long ago, I can’t remember. I can talk more about the script that I have now just because it’s so fresh, three or four people that I’ll give it to, but we’ve made stuff together now. Like it’s a… then, there’s one or two people probably that I gave it to. But what I did, is then I started looking for a producer because I knew that for Faith, I knew that, well for any feature, there’s no way I’m gonna be able to do this by myself. I looked for people that, I’m interested in for lack of a better term, American arts cinema. It’s indie cinema, but it’s art cinema. I looked for producers who had produced stuff that I really liked in the past, whatever, 10 years and they were making it for less than $2 million.
Now I would, honestly, if I was doing that now, I’d be looking for people who were making stuff for less than $500,000, quite honestly. But this was 10 years ago. So I sent it to producers who sort of fit that model, and I found this guy, Mike Ryan out in New York who had produced a couple of Kelly Reichardt films, Old Joy, and Meek’s Cutoff, and he produced the movie Junebug with Amy Adams. And a few other things that I really, really liked and I felt like it was a right in the same sort of, again, tone. I’m gonna say that word over. That’s what I was trying to do and he responded to the script and off we went, but then it was rewrites. Then it’s working with a producer and him going, “We’re having to raise money, we’ve got to do this, and we need to think about that,” and that sort of stuff.
So then it’s that process, and then it’s the long process of then trying to attach cast and find money for it.
Ashley: So I’m curious. It sounds like you were just doing cold query letters to these producers and where did you get that information? Was it like IMDb Pro you just drilling down…?
Eli: I opened up an IMDb Pro account and said, “Okay, who are these people?” So, I mean, for the most part, you’re getting ignored. You go into an email inbox and are quickly deleted, which now, when you’re first starting out, that feels brutal. But now I completely understand it. Because I’ll get, people are doing the same thing to me. Like I’m gonna produce that movie, I’m like, I’m not gonna…
Ashley: Yeah, no, now you’re listed. Yeah, you’re listed on IMDb as a producer so you’re getting the same emails.
Eli: Now, I completely understand it. And then those people who are very nice and say, “No, not for us,” and that sort of thing. But not, there’s no one person who is going to ultimately be your, the arbiter of your success, you know? I mean, like, it’s, you’re going to be the one, if you really wanna make this thing, you’re gonna keep spinning your wheels and trying to do it. But you also got to like, I wasn’t sending it and this is not, I’m not putting these people who make these kinds of films down, but I wasn’t sending it to people who are making low budget horror films or stuff like that. Like, you’re trying to find the right fit. That’s the other big part of it. You look for people who are in your zone, for lack of a better term.
If you have something that interests them, then you might find the right relationship. And that’s the way I found Mike and we’re gonna go off and try and do this again, so.
Ashley: Got you. I’m curious if you have any recollection, just to get a sense of the scope, you mentioned, sometimes you send these emails that you don’t get any response. How many of these emails do you think you ultimately sent out?
Eli: Oh God! At the time it felt like hundreds, but it wasn’t. I know it… because it was not… quite honestly, one of the things you find out is there’s just not that many. The film world, it feels like sometimes when you’re starting out, that it’s vast. It’s really not. There’s a smaller number of people doing this than you realize. So I don’t know. It was probably less than 50, somewhere in the 25 to 50 range, I would say.
Ashley: And then what were some of the notes that he gave you, that the producer gave you? Just what did that look like?
Eli: The original story which our friend, so one of the people, our mutual friend, Eric, he would have been one of the ones who read the original script. The original story was not focused on one character. It was focused on two characters going through different sort of religious or personal crises. He said, “We got to simplify this. We need to make this into a single character who is going through this.” Because his whole thing is he makes these kind of artful dramas and he makes them cheaply and… or cheaply in the movie world anyway. And he’s able to attract relatively well-known actors for no money. But one of the main ways that you can do that is that they’re the center of the movie.
Like they’re gonna get a chance, like if they’re on a bigger movie or a bigger TV show, they don’t get to be the center necessarily. They’re one of the supporting players or whatever, but here for this small movie, they’re gonna be right, they’re gonna drive it and that’s attractive to them because the money’s not attractive at all.
Ashley: Yeah. And we can talk a little bit about the casting. I mean, you had a great cast for this. How did you get Brian Geraghty to come on? I noticed he was also an executive producer. And what does that exactly mean?
Eli: Well, that’s a good question. So Brian, we actually had a casting director and he helped us find, or actually a couple of different actors who were attached for a long time. I mean, again, the process of doing this, we had another actor attached as the lead for probably almost a full year in the movie. We thought we were gonna go and then we get pushed and we thought we were gonna go, and then we get pushed and we thought we were gonna go, and then we get pushed. Eventually, he got a job that when we finally knew we were gonna go, when it was definitely happening, he couldn’t do it because he had this other jobs. So then we got Brian because Nora-Jane who plays his wife, who the casting director helped us get, her husband, Chris Marquette, who’s an actor.
And brought… the two, Chris and Brian are friends, and he said, he’d be really good for that part. I said, yes, he’s fantastic. He would be good for this part. So that we sent them the script and he liked it. So off we went. So then him being executive producer, I honestly don’t remember how that… I mean, that’s a deal negotiating thing that his agents and Mike, the producer that I tried to stay out of quite honestly. So, but it was part of the deal.
Ashley: Got you. So what’s next for you? What do you keep mentioning the script that you’re just finishing up? How is that and what is that looking like?
Eli: I wrote, again this, I don’t know how it works for you Ashley, but I mean, I write these things. I wrote the first draft of this like five years ago, and then it sat somewhere while I’m making Faith and then I’d returned to it and written a couple more drafts and now send it out to collaborators and the producers, they both really like it and Sherry’s my other producer. So we wanna go off and make it, and so now I’m gonna do yet another draft and then we’ll start sending it around and see if we can get some interest and find some money and all that sort of stuff. But it’s one of these things… I mean, I think, you know, Eric told me you seem to always be making something. I’m sort of resigned to the fact that these things are… after going through with Faith.
Okay. I mean, if it happens next year, fantastic, but I’m not betting on it. It might be this is gonna be a few year process of trying to get it made. And it’s completely different than Faith. It’s a crime film for lack of a better term, I guess. Crime slash gangster film that kind of messes… I wanna undercut the genre a little bit with a love story. So yeah, that’s what I’m working on and hopefully I’ll be able to do it in a couple of years.
Ashley: Got you. Yeah, and it’s interesting, because I think listening to you, I think my approach is definitely different than your own approach. Like you mentioned that you carefully selected 25 or 50 producers. Like I just downloaded all of IMDb Pro and blast to everybody. That’s more of my things. And I’m just getting these scripts out. I can tell too, you’re a lot more emotionally invested in these scripts. I churn out scripts very quickly and frankly they don’t, if they sit on my shelf or they get destroyed, it doesn’t, I don’t really get that invested on any one script. It doesn’t seem like, and it’s not, I’m not saying it’s bad or good. Oftentimes I look at people like yourself and I envy that sort of passion and commitment to the one project.
And sometimes I have filmmakers on that are exactly like this. So I really believe that it’s more about figuring out your own sort of personality and how you go than it is any one sort of prescription for like, oh, you should do this or you should do that. It’s really a personal thing of how you’re gonna interact in these particular context or whatever.
Eli: Absolutely. Because ultimately it’s gonna be you. The energy has to come from you, the want has to come from you. And yeah, like I sometimes I think I treat these things way too preciously and that’s to my own detriment. Like it’s just, be able to put it out and let it go, I think would be probably a lot healthier. Because one of the things that does happen is you do live and die with every email. You send that email out and fingers crossed, they’re gonna say… oh, they said, no. Oh God, I’ve got to drink myself into oblivion tonight to be able to get… You know what I mean? Whereas, if it wasn’t so precious, then, “Eh, whatever. It’s fine, I’ll do another one.
Ashley: Yeah. And the flip side of that is that I do think I get stuff out there sometimes a little bit before I should. That’s the downside to what I do, is sometimes I feel like I’m moving a little too quickly and I don’t always necessarily polish things up maybe as much as I should. So it’s again, there’s advantages to both I think. I’d like to end these interviews just by asking the guests what they’ve seen recently. Is there anything that’s kind of maybe a little off the radar, Hulu, Netflix, HBO that you’ve seen that you would be, you think would be really instructive for screenwriters?
Eli: Oh, I don’t know about you, do you have kids?
Ashley: Yeah, I do actually. I got…
Eli: It’s so hard to find time to actually watch anything. What is the last thing that I’ve seen that I was…? I can’t think of anything in the last, I mean, I really liked David Simon’s, The Plot Against America. The series that he did on HBO. Because that just made me think, I was thinking of… because a couple years ago, Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan did this movie called Wildlife. I don’t know if you saw it. It’s based upon a book with Jake Gyllenhaal and oh God, what is her name? What is her name? Whatever her name is. I can’t remember, I’m sorry. I’m terrible. But it is so beautifully written and constructed and I found it to be so sort of inspiring just as a writer because of its… I think one of the hardest thing for me, trying to find a way to get subtexts, not having your character speak subtext.
To have your movie be about something, this thing that this current that’s underneath everything, to have it be about that without explicitly, stamping it on the front of the screen that this movie is about this thing. They just did such a beautiful job in the way it’s constructed. It’s very much, I’m interested in American culture, the American identity, how the American identity is formed. And no matter what, whether it’s Faith or this new sort of crime film that I’ve written, they’re still sort of about that and that movie, I thought they did such a beautiful job of getting at certain questions about the American family and the pressures of existing and set in like 1950, whatever in Colorado, I believe.
The unspoken pressure of the nuclear family unit that I just thought was just really well done without saying that. Without uttering, “Well, we’re under so much pressure.” Just like making it so plain and so obvious and just really beautifully performed by the actors.
Ashley: Got you. You said it was called Wilderness?
Eli: No, Wildlife. It’s Jake Gyllenhaal and…
Ashley: We’ll be able to find it. Yeah, no worries. We’ll be able to find it with Jake Gyllenhaal and the title. So that’s all good. How can people see Faith? Do you know what the release schedule is like? Where is that available?
Eli: Oh, it’s out. It’s on all of your favorite VOD platforms. Amazon, iTunes, Apple TV, Fandango, all that sort of stuff it’s there. Spectrum and all that stuff.
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 will round up for the show notes.
Eli: Yeah. I mean, I’m on Twitter. I don’t…. It’s not a very exciting feed or anything like that, but yeah.
Ashley: Okay, got you. Yeah. We’ll put your Twitter link in the show notes. Well, Eli, I really appreciate your coming on and talking with me today. Good luck with this film and good luck with your next film. Hopefully you can come back on and tell us about that one as well once it’s done.
Eli: Great. Thanks Ashley. I appreciate it.
Ashley: So perfect. We’ll talk to you later, Eli.
Eli: Sound good.
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On the next episode of the podcast, I’m going to be interviewing writer Bob McCullough. He’s written and even created a number of TV shows. He also runs the Wiki Screenplay Contest, which is a monthly screenplay writing competition. We talk through some of his career highlights and how he broke into the business, and of course talk about his contest as well. So keep an eye out for that episode next week. That’s our show, thank you for listening.