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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
Mar. 11, 2011 | 11:11 AM

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Interview with screenwriter Andrew Lanham

Ballroom Marfa’s distinguished Filmmakers’ Selection Committee has made its decision on which 2010 Nicholl Fellowship screenplay will be featured in The Reading, a new and vital component of Ballroom Marfa’s film program showcasing the emerging screenwriter. Academy Award winning screenwriter Diana Ossana, executive producer and screenwriter Andrew Marlowe, and pioneering agent, entertainment executive and Producer Robert Shapiro have selected THE JUMPER OF MAINE by Andrew Lanham from the group of 2010 Nicholl Fellowship winners. THE JUMPER OF MAINE will be featured in two performances of The Reading at the Crowley Theater in Marfa, Texas on March 26, 2011 and will be directed by Dallas based veteran director/actor John S. Davies.

“The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ executive director Bruce Davis calls the Ballroom Marfa presentation ’ a new and intriguing wrinkle in the Nicholl Fellowships,’ and says that the Academy is watching the inaugural program with interest.”

FilmRadar recent sat down with writer Andrew Lanham for a few questions….

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How did you first become interested in film and specifically writing for the screen?

I’ve been interested in film from as young an age as I can remember. In middle school I would run to the video store down the street whenever I was left alone (where they had no problem renting all kinds of movies to a child), rent as many movies as possible, then hide them in the lobster pot in the basement to watch throughout the night as my parents slept.

I was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome in middle school and put on a pretty heavy sedative that caused me to basically sleep away a year - during this year I did almost nothing but watch movies - this, in terms of my career and knowledge of film, probably ended up being one of the most beneficial and informative years of my life (although I did not know it at the time!).

In college I majored in communications with a concentration in film theory. It was during this time that I developed a love of writing about film. At some point after college it seemed logical to put the two (love of film, love of writing) together. I moved home for a year and wrote my first script, with which I was accepted into the MFA graduate screenwriting program at the University of Texas at Austin.

Who are some of the writers you admire the most?

I really admire a lot of writers/directors, like Paul Thomas Anderson and Wes Anderson. I also love Charlie Kaufman, William Goldman, Lawrence Kasdan. I appreciate and admire the screenwriters who clearly put love and craft into their work, who make the screenplay exciting and fun to read - right now I’ve been reading (and rereading) a lot of the Dan Fogelman scripts that are out there - I think it’s pretty mind-blowing how easy (and fun) he makes the whole thing seem. 

What inspires you as a writer?

Is life too simple an answer? I try to find inspiration from as many avenues as possible. I definitely tend to process my life and the world around me through my writing. It’s actually one of the bigger things I’ve had to learn as I’ve grown as a writer - how to externalize the internal so I’m not just talking about my own feelings or experiences. I think one of the most exciting things about writing in general is the knowledge that you are growing in the ability to take very internal inspiration and spin it out into a story that seemingly has nothing to do with the writer and his/her life.

Did you attend film school?

I majored in Communication with a concentration in Film Theory at Richmond, the American International University in London. Following graduation, I worked for a non-profit organization called Up with People for two years, and after that I moved home to write my first screenplay. After that I moved to Texas, where I’m currently in my final semester of the two year MFA Screenwriting Program in the RTF department at the University of Texas at Austin. So no, not really, to answer a short question in as long a way as possible.

How was winning the 2011 Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting changed things for you?

Winning the Nicholl has changed everything for me. I suppose my experience has been unique, in that I have not been writing screenplays for all that long yet - I’m still in graduate school, for instance. So THE JUMPER OF MAINE was the first time I had ever applied to a screenwriting competition - to win both Nicholl, and the Drama and Independent Latitude screenwriting competitions at the Austin Film Festival was a surprise and blessing beyond what I could have ever imagined. Because I’m so new to it all, at the time of winning I had no representation whatsoever - now I have a great team of agents at UTA, and a wonderful manager in Margaret Riley at Brillstein Entertainment Partners - so I suppose winning Nicholl gave me my start, professionally, which certainly helps you feel like you’re on the right track personally. And being selected for Ballroom Marfa’s ‘The Reading’ is the really lovely icing on the cake.

Are there any plans for a reading or showcase in Los Angeles?

Not as of right now.

Do you most enjoy writing for TV or film or another medium?

Definitely film, but that’s also all I’ve been focused on for the past few years. I love watching TV, so I’m definitely interested in dipping my toes into that form of writing more as time progresses.

What are your plans for the future?

Well, I’ll finish grad school in May, so that’s first up. Donald DeLine with DeLine Pictures is now attached as the producer of THE JUMPER OF MAINE, so hopefully (fingers crossed) things will move forward and I’ll actually get to see it someday. I continue to write my own scripts in the meantime, and hopefully will get some work out of LA as time goes on. 

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