2017 / Ed Hicks

      

From an original field of over 1,100 writers, Ed Hicks (pictured left) took home first place after three rounds of intense screenwriting challenges.  Check out the screenplays he wrote for the competition below in addition to an interview about his experience!

 

 

 

   

        1st Round
High Tension
Genre: Thriller
Subject: Confidential information
Character: A window washer
2nd Round
Field of View
Genre: Suspense
Subject: Home security
Character: A youth sports coach
3rd Round
Milwaukee Deep
Genre: Open
Subject: A hallucination
Character: A marine biologist
   
  12 pages
Logline: Two high rise window cleaners are chance witnesses to a crime while on the job. Together they must use their wits and skills if they are to escape from a masked assailant.
8 pages
Logline: Matt goes to make amends when a tennis student under his supervision accidentally breaks a window. Upon first inspection, the house appears to be deserted, but just because you can't see someone, doesn't mean that no one's there.
5 pages
Logline: An unidentified sound is coming from the bottom of the Puerto Rico Trench. When an unmanned probe fails, a marine biologist makes a solo expedition to the ocean floor.
       

 

   

Congratulations on winning the 14th annual Screenwriting Challenge!   How long have you been screenwriting and how did you first get started?

Thank you! My first ever screenplay was for the 2016 screenwriting challenge. I’d just failed to enter anything for Short Story round 1 (for a number of reasons) and I was feeling down about it. I’d seen the other competition was running and thought I’d give it a try. A close friend bought me a screenwriting book (by Charles Harris for those curious) and I read it front to back. I think my natural style of writing suits screenplay a lot better than prose - I think in pictures and scenes and moments, and it’s a relief to just be able to say what happens rather than have to think of a way to convey the image that I see.

 

London seems to be a great place to be involved in filmmaking, with a strong film and television industry and a great independent scene.  How has your experience been in London’s filmmaking community?

Funnily enough my day job is in post-production doing visual effects for commercials, so I do have some tangential contact with it, but no real hands on experience in pre-production or production. I also have a couple of friends who are indie filmmakers—I definitely agree London seems to be a solid place to get into the industry with a number of viable paths. Maybe I’ll be able to learn more about it in the coming year.

 

What was the most challenging aspect of the competition for you?  What was the most enjoyable aspect?

Of course time is always a big challenge. I’m a heinous procrastinator, so pretty much the only time I get any decent writing throughput is when I’m working to a deadline, and these competitions are perfect for that. It’s hard to get used to the shortening allowances of each round, finding a plot that has a nice shape, this fits the criteria, the space, and the time. And of course there’s always the looming threat of a tough genre. I think when you’re struck quickly with a strong idea early on, or you get that moment where you can feel the story is coming together, it can be quite thrilling. It’s remarkable for an activity that happens while you’re sitting still and talking to no one.

 

You were assigned the Thriller genre in the first round, Suspense in the second, and chose to write a blend of Horror and Sci-Fi for your final round screenplay.  Which was your favorite to write during the competition and which was the most challenging?  Were there any genres that you were hoping not to write?

As for genres I didn’t want to write, getting historical fiction at any point would have killed me for time. I get the research bug bad and it destroys my time management. Romance I wouldn’t want to do because I’m not a good enough writer to do that yet. Political satire is hard at the best of times, and in 2017 I think anyone would struggle to come up with something that wasn’t trite.

In a way I was extremely lucky with the round 1 and 2 genres as they’re both subtly different approaches to action and tension. Both can safely be quite leggy, which is a habit in my writing at the moment—overly intricate plots.

 

Your final round screenplay that won the competition, “Milwaukee Deep”, implemented the assigned subject (a hallucination) and character (marine biologist) beautifully.  A great ending is important for any story, and “Milwaukee Deep” definitely had one.  Did you have the ending in mind before you hashed out the story or was it something that came organically as you were writing?

Oh the ending came first for sure. I have a lot of respect for writers who can just sit down and type. If I try to do that I get discouraged quickly, meander, and peter out. I need a structure and a target or I’m lost. When I got those prompt components, I immediately thought of the depths, unknowable horrors. I remembered seeing a wiki page on unexplained deep sea sounds that was really creepy, and then I linked the idea of sounds to purring and the hallucination. I was reminded of the SCP foundation (scp-wiki.net), which I think is a fantastic place to look for a creative approach to horror/paranormal storytelling. Also I’d just finished reading Peter Watt’s “Blindsight” which is a phenomenal sci-fi, and if you’ve read it, you’ll see the influence is clear. The same friend who got me into screenwriting helped me with all my biology questions—she’s kind of my writing guardian angel.

 

Do you have any plans for your screenplays or any other interesting projects coming up? 

I want to take the plays I’ve written so far and revise them without a page limit and see what size they naturally come to. I’ve toyed with the idea of producing an animatic for one of them, as I’m also a visual artist.

As far as other projects go, I’ve been developing an idea for a sports genre comic focusing on fighting games for a while now. I think the sports genre is ideal for weaving character development with plot development, and it allows the writer a lot of room to play with tension and dynamics.

I’m the artist on a sci-fi comic about capitalism in space (contango-comic.com)

You can find my artwork on my tumblr and instagram

My writing is available on my personal site (cheezopath.com) which I’ll be adding more to soon.

 

Will you be back to defend your title in the Screenwriting Challenge 2018?

Assuredly! Right after I bomb out of Flash Fiction, have a crack at Short Screenplay and retry Short Story. Let’s go!

 

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When Ed Hicks isn’t writing, drawing, or digitally simulating crowds, he tweets about consuming expired food. To find out more about his work (or expired food) follow his twitter or visit his website.

 

 

 


 

 



 

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