Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there. Each and every one of you are the heart of the family so we appreciate your unwavering care and your loving soul. For this very special day I hope you would take this time to watch a special movie called Sunrise in Heaven. For today's interview I have the prominent screenwriter of this inspiring movie,Mr. Don Benamor, here to express his experience. So, read how Sunrise in Heaven began and check it out afterward.
1. What inspired you to write Sunrise in Heaven?
I was hired to write the script by Voyage Media, which was working with the author of the novel the script is based upon.
2. How long did it take you to write the first draft of Sunrise in Heaven?
The actual writing process itself never takes me that long, because I do extensive planning work beforehand. By the time I get to writing, I can usually knock out a script in a few weeks.
3. What research did you do when writing Sunrise in Heaven?
I did a ton of research, especially because this is based on a true story, and I had access to the real person, Jan Hurst. We spoke extensively, I read her novel, she shared personal stories with me, photos, and so on. I had a ton of access to great research material, and a lot of real-life material made its way into the script as a result of the heavy research.
4. What challenges did you face while writing Sunrise in Heaven?
Faith-based films are tricky because conflict is the friend of drama, but faith-based films have content restrictions because the audience appreciates their family-friendly nature (no swearing, violence, sexuality, etc.) The regular tools you can easily go to for dramatic conflict aren't as readily available, so you have to find creative solutions to invest the story with true conflict (the audience can sniff out false or weak conflict).
5. Did you consult with the author Mrs. Jan Hurst while writing Sunrise in Heaven?
I did, and that's how I solved my conflict problem. Jan confided in me that when she met her husband, as they initially started dating she lied to her father, who disapproved of her dating anyone in the military, and claimed her eventual husband was just a friend and not in the military. They snuck around and eventually Jan's father (who was a military man) found out. That nugget of conflict is something we built out for the film.
6. What is your favorite line from Sunrise in Heaven?
Often, when you write the script, your favorite line isn't the big dramatic line, but a smaller throwaway line that makes you as the writer laugh. There's this tiny moment in the film where the younger version of Steve compliments his prospective father-in-law, Jim, on a good shot as they fire a rifle on a little range. Jim, without missing a beat (well-played by Corbin Bernsen) says, "No one likes a suck-up, Steve." It makes me laugh every time.
7. What is your writing habit in general? Do you write in the daytime or night?
I have a young daughter, so I write any time I possibly can. I'll write at 5am when I first wake up. Often, that's the ideal time, because my daughter will sleep in until 7 or so, and my wife is still asleep, so I can get a head start on the day.
8. In one word how would you sum up Sunrise in Heaven?
Love. This is a positive, upbeat movie about love not just between the romantic leads, but all the characters, and that love wins out for everyone.
9. What piece of advice do you have for screenwriters starting out?
Stop talking and start working. Screenwriting is insanely difficult, and anything short of total commitment and crazy work ethic is unlikely to lead to success in this field. You can never have enough material, and you can never shop it aggressively enough.
10. What was your very first short film? What were the challenges you face and how did you overcome them?
My first short was in film school. It had a delicate tone, balancing comedy and drama. It was about a stand-up comedian playing a funeral. To be honest, I'm not sure I totally overcame it! But I still love that short.
11. What did you do to promote your first short film when it reached various festivals?
I was never a big shorts person. I made my first feature film two months out of film school.
12. If a self-published author is seeking a screenwriter, how would one get you or any expert to read his or her story to see if it would make a compelling movie?
There are many ways to go about that. The company that co-produced this film, Voyage Media, actually specializes in exactly that.
13. Which filmmakers/screenwriters do you admire growing up?
I have an old soul, so I was already obsessed with people like Paul Thomas Anderson and Martin Scorsese when I was like 15.
14. Were you ever on set for the making of Sunrise in Heaven? If so, could you tell me what scene you were present at?
I was! I came for the scene where young Steve tells Jim what the military means to him. It was unbelievably hot out, and the poor actors had to be in full uniform. I was really impressed with their dedication. Jan was there with me and it was surreal for us all to see Corbin and Travis play her dad and husband, respectively.
15. What was the last great film you saw? What was the last great book you read?
Last great film was A STAR IS BORN. I have nothing original to add to that film's massive success. I actually loved TRIPLE FRONTIER too. That's a great movie in my book. Last great book has some relation, surprisingly, to SUNRISE IN HEAVEN. It was called A SERIAL KILLER'S DAUGHTER, written by the daughter of the BTK killer. She used her religious faith to process her dad's crimes and achieve a type of forgiveness for him.
16. Last question, one surprising (non-writing related) fact about you?
I have this weird condition where there's a slight indent in my chest. I can balance a soda can on my chest if I lean back.
I just want to express my gratitude to Mr. Don Benamor for doing this interview. This film will definitely make your Mother's Day--or any day for that matter--a special one. You will definitely be inspired by the movie as well. Sunrise in Heaven is currently on VOD platforms so you can watch it by clicking on spectrumondemand, amazon.com, or moviefone. Thank you very much for your time and coming to my blog. Have a wonderful Mother's Day and take care.
Ms. Mackenzie Foy (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn part 1&2, The Conjuring, and Interstellar) has been cast to play a teenaqer who befriend Black Beauty. Meanwhile Oscar-winner Ms. Kate Winslet will provide the voice of Black Beauty's inner thoughts. Mr. Jeremy Bolt and Mr. Robert Kulzer of Constantin Film will produce the project while Mr. Martin Moszkowicz will executive produce it.
The film adaptation of Black Beauty will be directed and written by Mrs. Ashley Avis. I'm pleased to inform you that I had an interview with this talented director/screenwriter on July 27, 2018 about this very movie so go ahead and read that interview by clicking the link: My interview with Mrs. Ashley Avis
The best-selling children's classic, published in 1877, has been adapted numerous times for television and film.Ms. Anna Sewell, the author, sadly died just five months after publication hence never seeing the popularity of her book.
source material: www.hollywoodreporter.com
Oscar-winner Mr. Peter Farrelly is directing and co-writing the film adaptation to The Greatest Beer Run Ever. Mr. Brian Currie and Mr. Pete Jones will also aid Peter Farrelly in writing the screenplay. Producing the project are Mr. Don Granger, Ms. Dana Goldberg, and Ms. Aimee Rivera.
The nonfiction book was written by Joanna Molloy and John "Chickie" Donohue. The plot is basically about John Donohue who wanted to share his beers with his boyhood buddies so he left the United States and met them in Vietnam as they are in an army fighting in a war.
source material: www.thewrap.com
How Far Would You Go To Bury A Secret?
Plot of A Dark Place from IMDb:
Alex, is a twenty-something struggling to put his life back together after past, reckless mistakes render his job search hopeless. While pressure at home mounts from his pregnant girlfriend, he runs into an old friend who changes his fortunes. Just when things are looking up, Alex discovers a secret that sends him into a self-destructive, downward spiral and brings his two best friends along with him.
A Dark Place is one intense movie and I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Christopher Pinero, the director and screenwriter of this gripping film. Mr. Pinero has also worked on such films as Once Upon a Night and Leaving. You can check out the award-winning short now: Leaving. So, get to know this wonderful director/screenwriter and read how A Dark Place came together.
1. What is the genesis of A Dark Place?
It started out as a reoccurring nightmare that I would have pretty often. Then I played the what if game, and it became a short film titled “Once Upon a Night”. Of all the short films I had done up to that point, it seemed to resonate with people the most. It took me a couple years and at least fifteen drafts to find the right way of expanding it into a larger canvas.
2. Were there other titles you came up with before A Dark Place? If so what were they?
The feature’s working title was "Dark Patch". A neurologist discovered "where evil lurks" in the brain in violent criminals and all of them had a dark patch in the central lobe. In the end I decided against it because Alex wasn't evil to me, he was just in pain.
3. What influences (if any) helped you with writing or directing A Dark Place?
My main influences were Hitchcock’s films. I went on a Hitchcock binge before we shot the movie. Mainly Rope, Psycho, and Rear Window. Also, Silence of the Lambs is one of my favorite films and I watched it multiple times beforehand.
4. List three adjectives to describe the lead character Alex? Is he based on anyone you know in real life?
Desperate, Repressed, Self-Destructive
No, he’s not based on anyone in my life in particular. I would say all of the characters in this movie are a sensationalized part of me.
5. A Dark Place is a truly intense movie, was it written this way in the first draft or did the writing progress to what it is now?
Yes, the story always revolved around a death at a party. Through revisions I looked at ways to have the rest of the story, match the intensity of that. Once I got the structure down of where the story would go, I looked at individual moments and tried to see where I could take things up a notch.
6. Did you have any theme in mind for before writing the screenplay or it come to you afterward?
I don’t think about theme too much before writing. It always starts out as people in a situation and then leads to who are these people and how does the situation define them. I don’t like to over intellectualize in telling stories, I just try to be as personal as I can and I know the theme come out of that. I always pay attention to my intuition and what I would be feeling if I was in a theater watching this movie.
7. What is the name of the music that was played toward the end of the movie? And why did you choose that specific music?
The song at the end of the movie is “Lethal Dose of Daylight” by Andrew Deadman. I’m a friend of one of the members of the band and they were kind enough to let us use the song. The song has a sense of sadness that I felt wrapped up what you just experienced with these characters. The song also has a strong theme of reap what you sow, and I felt that wound up being a big part of this story. Every character in the film got what they deserved for better or worse.
8. Did you know how A Dark Place would end or did it come to you while writing the story?
The beginning of the story and the ending was something I struggled with for a long time and I couldn’t figure it out. I sent the script to a friend of mine, Ben Scharf, who wound up being a story consultant on the film and he suggested how Alex’s story should end. And it all made sense, everything clicked. As soon as that came about, then I knew exactly how it should start and how this story would end for everyone.
9. Jason Darcy (a.k.a Jay Eftimoski) and Christopher Donnellon gave such a superb performance as Alex’s close friends, what was your experience with them and how were you able to bring out the best in their performance?
Chris bartended at a restaurant I used to frequent and I thought his personality was perfect for this. I knew he could bring things to the movie that weren’t in the script. Jay on the other-hand, I cast in the original short film and was impressed with what he brought to the role so I didn’t consider anyone else. With both Chris and Jay, we met a few times prior to filming and discussed their characters. I was able to provide clarity to moments in the story and more importantly help develop their understanding of who these characters were. From there, when the camera starts rolling the best thing I could do was give them the space and freedom to perform. I set the right atmosphere to let them discover.
10. What message would you want A Dark Place say to the audience?
I wanted to convey that you never know what battle someone is fighting. Some people, like the main character Alex, keep their issues bottled up and bear the burden of them alone. Life is difficult, but it can be a little less so if we share in its hurts and pains. It sounds a little cheesy, but check in on your loved ones every once in awhile.
11. What is your writing schedule in general?
I find it easier to think at night because I feel that there's less static than during the day. I generally like to write sequences and will wait until the arc of that sequence is done before I call it a day. I'll try to get a draft done as fast as I can so I have a better look at the story and see where it lags and where it feels rushed.
12. If a self-published author is seeking a screenwriter, how would one get you or any experience screenwriter to read his or her story to see if it would make a compelling movie?
There's a lot of avenues online and through social media where you can find contact information, whether it be filmmaker's representation or them directly. If I were to receive a novel, the first thing I would look for is the characters and how well I relate to them. I was sent a short story a few years ago that was incomplete but the character was filled with one of my biggest fears, regret. It was so palpable I had no choice but to adapt it and find a way to give the story a proper structure.
13. Which filmmakers/screenwriters do you admire growing up?
Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, Eric Roth, David Fincher, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, Paul Thomas Anderson, Kathryn Bigelow, Stephen King
14. What piece of advice do you have for screenwriters/directors starting out?
Always look to create your own opportunities. If you're a writer, write as many novels/screenplays as you can. If you're a Director, make as many films as you can and never focus on the results. Find the love in writing or directing and the results will come. Always tell stories out of need rather than want.
15. Last question, what’s your favorite material object that you already own?
My movie collection.
Greatly appreciate Mr. Christopher Pinero for taking his time to answer those questions. A Dark Place is a unique gem that should be watch. Did I mention that it was the Official Selection of the Hoboken International Film Festival 2018 and Official Selection of the Manhattan Film Festival 2018? Furthermore, it won for Best Supporting Actor and Best Editing, winner of Best Thriller Film Award, and Accolade Global Film Competition Award Winner. I hope you keep an eye for this film as it comes out around August 2019 on VOD platforms through Gravitas Ventures.
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