I am very pleased and proud to introduce you to my cousin Zach Stratton, who is currently pursuing a screenwriting career in Los Angeles. Zach is a brilliant and passionate writer who has inspired me as well as many others with his drive to pursue his dreams and take risks. Mark my words, this guy is going places!
Without further ado, I present to you screenwriter Zach Stratton:
I am a twenty-something trying (and often failing) to transform my dreams into a reality! I have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and as a storyteller, I can honestly think of no better area of study. In the throes of college, I taught myself the craft of screenwriting for kicks, only to discover a reserve of untapped talent. One thing led to another, and now I work for the Executive Producers of the television show Nashville. My scripts have placed in some of the top screenwriting competitions in the world, as well as requested by Warner Bros. Pictures and Universal Pictures for consideration in their fellowship programs.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently writing a television pilot entitled Folk Tale, about a hidden village in the heart of Ireland tasked with protecting and preserving the forest that surrounds the village – inhabited by all manner of creatures once thought to fill the pages of folklore.
When did you first know you wanted to be a screenwriter?
I can’t remember a time in which I wasn’t weaving stories together in the deepest recesses of my mind. I also can’t remember a time in which I wasn’t consuming dozens of films a week. That said, I am the quintessential late bloomer and it took me until my late twenties to put two and two together. Once that alchemy fused however, I jumped on the first train to LA without a moment’s hesitation! Okay there was some hesitation…
What are your near and future goals for your writing?
My near goals are to finish my pilot and land representation. My future goal is to land a staff writing position on a television show, thereby getting paid to do what I love.
What other types of art inspire your writing? Any specific examples?
Excellent film and television tends to inspire me the most, but novels and short stories also inspire me.
How do you usually get past creativity blocks?
To be blunt, I bash through the blocks with a sledgehammer. If today’s the day I write some seriously crappy pages, then so be it! Writing is re-writing after all. I think once people adopt this mentality, the debilitating barrier of perfection fades away and you get to work. Writing is hard work and the process demands discipline. Don’t get me wrong, inspiration is great. But if you wait for that oh-so-elusive inspiration to rest on you like at dove descended from heaven, then you are going to be waiting for a loooooong time.
What do you wish you knew before you dove into the screenwriting world?
That it’s statistically impossible to sell your script, much less get it produced.
What does your creative process look like?
1) I will often let an idea percolate until it is bursting to get out, at which time I will regurgitate my first draft onto all those poor empty pages. 2) I stick that draft in a dank ‘n’ dusty drawer and return to it a month later to discover the worst script ever written. 3) I start the grueling re-writing process. 4) I rinse and repeat a few times until I have a somewhat intelligible script. The process is similar to many torture regimes conceived by mankind over the centuries.
What nugget of advice can you give to beginning screenwriters and/or other kinds of aspiring artists?
Be realistic about the pursuit of your craft. In other words, set realistic goals and expectations, lest you risk excruciating heartbreak. If you can do something else and feel fulfilled in your life, then for the love of God do it! This pursuit is only for those who cannot bear to do anything else with their lives.
What would your superpower be and why?
I would be able to pause/rewind/fast-forward time. Can you imagine how many movies you can watch in one day!?