Allison Buckmelter & Nicolas Buckmelter – Young & Hungry
Our next featured Young & Hungry screenwriters are writing partners.
Portland-born Allison Buckmelter and Los Angeles native Nicolas Buckmelter are a married writing team. They won a PAGE Awards gold prize for their pilot Adam Begat and a 2018 Academy Nicholl Fellowship for their most recent feature American Refugee.
How young and how hungry do you need to be to win a place on the 2018 Young & Hungry list?
In our case, you need to be hungry enough, or at least enjoy the process of writing enough, to toil in relative obscurity for an extended period without really knowing who is ever going to read your work. This is a long, long road.
Describe your unique personal and professional background and the specific project that attracted industry interest.
We’re a married writing team. We both studied screenwriting in college. We’ve held a variety of jobs between us, both inside and outside of entertainment, that continue to inform our worldview and our writing. At first, we wrote romantic comedies, which was fun to do as a couple, but once we began writing thrillers we felt like we found our niche. American Refugee was the first project of ours that attracted real industry interest.
What personal qualities do screenwriters need to make it?
Treat others with respect, be patient and write every day.
Why did you decide to become screenwriters above all other careers?
We know what we know about the world through the stories we tell each other. We’ve never been to outer space, boarded the Titanic, worked in the White House or lived among the dinosaurs, but we feel like we have because of movies. Screenwriting is just about the most exciting job we can imagine.
How do you become agent/manager bait?
If we knew how to become agent/manager bait, we would have done it years ago. For us, winning the Nicholl fellowship was the path to representation.
Where do you get your creative inspiration?
Usually from each other and from real life. It’s important to watch movies and understand movies, but for us, inspiration often comes from something we’ve actually experienced or wish we had experienced.
How do you decide which ideas are worthy of pursuing?
If it’s a movie that we would go to the theater to watch, we’re probably on the right track. If other people whose opinions we trust react enthusiastically, then that tends to solidify our initial impression.
Do you have a writing brand in terms of interests you gravitate towards?
Character-driven thrillers grounded in reality.
How do you characterize the current state of the industry and opportunities for emerging writers?
Screenwriters are selling all kinds of content now. The form of the content may change, but demand is always high for good material. Now more than ever, it seems like the industry is welcoming stories that feature under-represented characters and diverse points of view, and we think this is an encouraging development.
How do you train and improve your writing craft?
Accepting honest criticism is a learned skill. It doesn’t always come easily or naturally. One of the advantages of being a writing team is that we’re constantly critiquing each other’s work. The experience has taught us to welcome, rather than dread, feedback from other readers.
What are the qualities of scripts you read that don’t get industry interest?
We’ve read plenty of compelling scripts that didn’t attract industry interest, so it’s hard to say. But it’s probably fair to assume that poorly formatted scripts with misspellings all over the place are less likely to be taken seriously.
What advice do you have for screenwriters wanting to make next year’s Young & Hungry list?
Don’t be afraid to be bold and to take chances with your writing. Your script might not resonate with everyone, but in the end, you’ll be well served by choosing to tell the stories that matter deeply to you.
What is something that few people know about you?
We both play music in an Irish pub band.
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