This month's script competition winner, Ricardo Bravo, an energy consultant from Mexico City, who now lives in South East London, admits he has been through the grinder a few times.
His scripts and stories have come under fire from competition feedback and rejection (especially ours), however, as he later puts it, perseverance works.
The second time round proved successful for Ricardo, seemed to get the formula just right this time.
His winning short script 'Hush Little Baby', is a 17 page suspenseful horror about a man driven insane by the cries of a baby.
We were excited to find out more about Ricardo and his work, and he was more than happy to answer our questions.
Q - How did you get into screenwriting?
I have been imagining and telling stories for ages. I’ve always loved cinema (I’m a movie trivia master) and the idea of seeing my name up on the screen excited me. However, life, family and the pursuit of happiness had to take precedence. Once I joined the exciting world of energy consulting I put my dream in the back pocket. However, five years ago I found myself on a very long train commute to and from work, three days a week. All of a sudden I had two full hours I could dedicate to whatever I wanted. The dream came back with a vengeance as I used the time to write my first screenplay (full disclosure, that screenplay was absolute junk).
Thankfully, I found Scott Myers’ Go Into the Story blog, joined the Zero Draft Thirty gang and got a massive support from fellow amateur screenwriters. I haven’t quit my day job, but I have not stopped writing since.
Q - How did the initial idea for 'Hush Little Baby' come about?
I was working late at night on a horror short story for the Twisted50 vol 2 competition. After submitting my story I finally went to bed. That's when I heard it... the insistent cries of a baby filtered through my neighbour's wall. My first reaction was one of annoyance; I had to work the next day and that wasn't helping. Then the feeling switched to concern for the baby but I was sure someone would tend to him. This brought on a barrage of memories of my own dealings with my children; my fears and insecurities of being a parent; all those sleepless nights when sickness struck, worrying and waiting for the crying to fade down. In the middle of all this an idea struck me. What if the crying next door went on night after night? How would the lack of sleep impact me? What if there was something more sinister behind the baby's crying? The next day I started outlining the story.
Q - Do you have any specific inspirations for this script?
I have always been fascinated by horror stories that don’t rely on fancy special effects to carry their message and leave their mark. For example, the West End play ‘The Woman in Black’ which relies on simple props and excellent acting, left me literally afraid of the dark for more than a week. Similarly, ‘The Blair Witch Project’ manages to immerse the audience in an eerie atmosphere and keep the tension growing until it’s horrific conclusion. I tried to keep ‘Hush Little Baby’ within the same vein, relying on sound as a catalyst to build the atmosphere and increase tension.
Q - Did you always plan on a dark ending?
That has always been the plan. From the beginning I knew I wanted to do a tale of horror and I love stories that keep the audience guessing as the suspense grows. I want the audience to suffer with Patrick every step of the way, to feel his pain, and to be shocked and horrified at the end [evil laughter]. Sorry, got a bit carried away there.
Q - What would be your advice to new writers?
One of the hardest things of being an amateur writer with no contacts in the business is finding a way of getting good feedback on your writing. Specialist Facebook groups are very useful as they provide good insights and a feeling of camaraderie. However, nothing beats having an experienced reader go through your writing and provide you with an honest review of what works and what doesn’t. This is something that writing competitions can provide. There is, of course, the added bonus that if your piece gets selected or highlighted, it is a badge that can eventually open doors, not to mention an amazing boost of confidence.
Finally, perseverance works. ‘Hush Little Baby’ started as a short story that was shortlisted but didn’t make it to the final Twisted50 vol 2 book (although another short story of mine did make it through; it’s called 'For the Record', check it out).
It then became a short screenplay which didn’t make it very far in competitions. The feedback I received, however, helped me improve it to the point that it has already won and continues to be selected in competitions.
Q - What are you writing now/next? Do you feel it's time to try a feature?
In the five years I’ve been writing, I have written four feature screenplays, three in Spanish and one in English, and two TV-Pilots. Many of these are in need of some serious re-writing (the editing only stops when the movie is finished) so I will be working on those (and entering them into some competitions, of course). I am also outlining two more feature length screenplays and a TV Pilot, and I am looking for ways to bring 'Hush Little Baby' to the screen. I'm gonna need a longer commute.
Find out more about 'Hush Little Baby' and other winning short scripts.