Interview with Reno-Tahoe Screenplay Contest Finalist Christine Inserra

Screenplay requires screen time

MJP: So Christine, out of the blue, you got a query email?

CI: Yes. You know the saying when the writer is ready they find you. And it led to my first TV pilot, Teleception, being optioned!

MJP: Tell me more about how that happened.

CI: So, one day, I got an email from CHERI, a production designer/acting head of a new start-up film production company looking for scripts written about and by women. She had done an internet search, presumably something like “women screenwriters.”

I had won awards in WOMEN WHO WRITE IN FILM screenwriting contests. So, up I popped as a recent winner. Then I appeared in more of her internet searches. I have all my scripts, awards, artwork, and one-pager on many websites.

MJP: Which ones?


Cheri said she was drawn to many of my award-winning script loglines/images and asked for one-pagers. Teleception, the TV pilot/series, was listed but not promoted because the pilot was not quite polished. She wanted to know more about Teleception, so I sent her my beautiful STORY BIBLE. I had paid my medical illustrator friend to lay it out for me.

That bible NAILED it. The president and others loved it and wanted to option it and add it to their 10-script-slate to a big streamer.

Then I had a Zoom meeting with the president and Cheri.

MJP: Wow! That is amazing to hear. Congratulations.

CI: YEAH! RIGHT. That was the quick and easy part. Panic set in. I redrafted the pilot to the delight of my script adviser. But, I knew nothing about CONTRACTS or what I should ask for. So, I did a bunch of research consulting with my associates. I even asked you for advice. I interviewed two entertainment lawyers, and it wasn’t a good fit. I then got a membership with the Counsel for Creators. They’re a group of creative arts/business lawyers available by phone for unlimited advice, and I got help understanding and negotiating my contract. It cost me $95.00 a month, but I did pay more for a redraft once we had worked out the terms. This process of back and forth between all parties took 6 months.

MJP: I hate the contract negotiation part — it’s like you are suddenly in war with the very person who wants to buy your script. How did the negotiation go?

CI: Cheri was also learning, so it was quite a joint venture. I tried to be reasonable in my requests. Now I play the wait on development game, the next option renewal, and any word from the big streamer. This industry is glacial.

MJP: Any interest in your other scripts?

CI: Yes. Cheri has read three of my scripts and loves them. As a new start-up, they are positioned to open a brick-and-mortar production studio in 2022. So all in due time.

But She thinks I am a great writer, creating fresh, complex yet clear characters and stories. That’s the kind of encouragement I need as I embark on my first adaptation of a lesbian crime novel set in a sleepy southern Illinois town.

MJP: How’d you get hooked up with that assignment?

CI: I connected with this local novelist by letting my SCREENWRITER FLAG FLY wherever I go. I met a retired doctor at my wife’s Tai Chi banquet. He knew this author and hooked us up. I have a two-year shopping agreement and rights to adapt the novel. That contract negotiation was not as easy. **********

MJP: How long have you been writing screenplays?

CI: Religiously? About seven years. I still work part-time. I started my first script in 2005, spent 10 years working on it, then moved on. Maybe one day I’ll go back to it.

MJP: Do you have representation?

CI: None -yet. I’d like to redraft two more of my best before seriously looking.

MJP: Produced a film?

CI: No. Only small music and educational videos for my physical therapy practice.

MJP: Won awards?

CI: Sure, but not the big first-place prize, which gets you hob-knobbing with producers.

MJP: Do you have a polished portfolio?

CI: Yes, six award winners, two not so.

MJP: How about networking?

CI: I have several trusted screenwriting/producing associates.

MJP: Who gives you notes on your work?

CI: I have a Great script advisor/reader. This has made all the difference in elevating my craft. Yes, it costs me $300.00 for a script read, overview notes, on-the-page notes, and an hour conversation. It’s a great deal, and it’s well worth it.

MJP: Are you big on social media?

CI: I really hate the time-suck of social media. I do announce all my contest wins on Facebook, and the other sites I’m on. Like I said, though, I widely promote all that I do, music, screenwriting, and my physical therapy work.

MJP: You mentioned your original screenplay artwork. How do you produce that?

CI: I come up with an image(s) for each script. Then do a pencil mock-up; collect photos to model ideas, then hire a Fiver artist who refines and draws it. Voila! It costs me between 75-125 bucks.

MJP: Hey, thanks for sharing your success and keep me updated.

CI: Will do. It’s been my pleasure. LET YOUR SCREENWRITER FLAG FLY!