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Janice Kennedy

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11 Questions with 2010 Screenplay Finalist

Janice Kennedy

1. What is your screenplay about?

It’s about a former Seattle homicide detective named Randall Cline who’s hired by a wealthy -- and mysterious -- client named “Vida” to investigate crimes that may be linked to the supernatural. Randall’s no longer on the police force because of being shot by a gang member named “Fate,” who’s still in the wind. Randall’s former partner, Barney, feels guilty about the circumstances surrounding that shooting and talks Randall into getting his P.I. license. Barney then proceeds to invite himself along on Randall’s first case as his “body guard.” Also turning up is the lovely Dr. Dina Morrison, a psychiatrist and expert in past-life regression who uses metaphysical approaches to helping her patients heal their emotional wounds. She’s been hired by Vida as well and Randall, a skeptic about “new-age” mysticism and such, is not happy to have Dina mucking up his investigation. She’s adamant about staying, however, and the team is soon delving into a murder-suicide in the Midwest. Did reincarnation play a part?

2. Why did you decide to write this screenplay?

I wanted to write a procedural that had another layer to it, one that not only asked the standard “who done it?” but also addressed more metaphysical questions, like who are we and what are we all doing here on the planet? Those sound like serious questions, but I also wanted to make it fun. That’s why I wrote an androgynous “Vida” who’s only heard on the telephone and only seen in shadow. He or she has a very dry sense of humor and will keep throwing Randall and Dina together no matter how much they dislike one another. Barney, who’s kind of a smart-ass sidekick, is always happy to hang out with Randall and delighted to be in Dina’s presence.

3. How long have you been writing screenplays?

Seriously, for about five years.

4. What is your favorite TV show of all-time?

Right now, it’s “House.” It works both as a procedural and a comedy. For all-time favorite, that’s probably “I Love Lucy.” She was brilliant.  

5. What artist in the film industry would you love to work with?

Anyone who is fearless. Mo’Nique comes to mind right now for what she did in “Precious.”  

6. Who was your hero growing up?

My English teacher, Nathalia Britt, who first noticed that I had some writing talent. She set me on a different course and changed my life by insisting that I take my S.A.T.s and apply for college. I had no plans to go beyond high school since no one in my family ever had. I landed my first writing job at the university’s pubic relations office while still a student and I’ve been working as a writer ever since. 

7. Ideally, where would you like to be in 5 years?

I’d like to be showrunner on a show I’ve created. A few years back, I was lucky enough to get a Writers Guild of American residency at “CSI: Miami.” For three months, the showrunner, Ann Donohue, and the writers opened up that that show’s creative process to me – from idea to fully realized episode. So I know what it takes to both create a show and run it day to day – the incredible pressure of meeting deadlines and the fun of “building” something new every week.

8. Describe your process; do you have a set routine, method for writing?

I don’t have a set time I write. When I’m mulling over an idea for something, I tend to write a lot of random notes and put them in a file. I also start clipping things from newspapers and magazines that relate to the idea I have. I don’t usually work from an outline, but I know the story’s overall arc before I start writing. Once I’ve fleshed out a character, that character becomes very real to me and I let that character tell me what should happen in specific scenes.

9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Supporting other women writers in getting their work out there. I was one of the people who helped Susan diRende found the Broad Humor Film Festival here in L.A. It’s now in its fifth year of showcasing comedies written and directed by women. I was also a founder of the Women Playwrights Festival in Seattle in 1998, which is still an annual event and which has supported a lot of writers like Pulitzer-prize winners Sarah Ruhl and Lynn Nottage early in their careers. Right now, I’m active in Women in Film and the work they do to support women in all areas of the entertainment industry.

10. What influenced you to enter the WILDsound Script Contest?

I had placed as a finalist with a spec script in an earlier competition and I liked the feedback I got.  

11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

Persevere and know that what you are doing is of value, even if the world doesn’t immediately recognize it.

Janice Kennedy


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