Horror Writers Association Blog

The 6th HWA Roundtable preview I


Our 6th Roundtable will be on Screenwriting and it will kick off on the 11th of February right here on the HWA blog. We have an excellent lineup of guests, including Michaelbrent Collings, Signe Olynyk, Matt Lohr, Brad Hodson, and Pen Densham.

Here’s the topic in full:

Screenwriting: How to get involved in the industry, the pitfalls and problems, the success stories. Screenwriting is a natural extension of story writing, but it is also a completely different art form. Let’s look at how it differs, and how difficult it is to create visual scenes for filming. And the end result; is it always how you viewed it would be? Are there any tips or suggestions you can offer for those just starting out, things you’ve learned along the way?

And in the buildup to the Roundtable, I’ll be chatting briefly with each of our guests, starting with Michaelbrent Collings, who suggested this topic (and on that note, if you have any ideas for Roundtable discussions, please get in touch with me).

Marty: What are you currently working on now?

Michaelbrent: Right now I just released my newest novel, DARKBOUND, so I’m in the “between” stage of novels, where I get to think and doodle around and play with ideas. One of my favorite parts of writing. On the scriptwriting front, I’m working on a few projects. One of my novels, HOOKED: A TRUE FAERIE TALE (which is on the preliminary ballot in the YA category for the Bram Stoker Awards) has gotten some interest from Hollywood, so I worked it into a script and am pow-wowing with various producers. Lots of other irons in the fire at various prodcos and studios, so we’ll see what happens. So much of Hollywood is just accepting rejection with a smile, making contacts where you can, and persevering. Onward and upward, even if to do that it feels an awful lot like throwing yourself over the side of a cliff sometimes.

Marty: Writers are often asked who inspired them when they were growing up. What about screenwriters? Are there legends of the industry who inspire new rising stars? Who inspired you?

Michaelbrent: I love William Goldman, of course. He’s kind of the grandmaster of screenwriting, in my opinion. Not only a great screenwriter, but a great storyteller. I also love a lot of the old writers, like Charles Lederer (HIS GIRL FRIDAY, the original OCEAN’S ELEVEN). I think Leigh Whannell has some great skills, and if you’re going to be a screenwriter you should definitely read Shane Black (LETHAL WEAPON, IRON MAN 3) – the guy just has a hysterically funny way of expressing his scenes. Dan O’Bannon (ALIEN). Some of Jim Cameron’s stuff. But really I like so many writers and scripts that this list could go on forever. And I think there’s something to that: if you’re writing a script because you think it’ll be easy and it’ll make you rich and famous… uh-uh. Get out now, while you still have your sanity. If you devour screenplays, if you get pissed off every time you go over to imsdb.com or Drew’s Script-o-rama because it hasn’t updated with anything new, with then… THEN you might have a shot.

Marty: When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing? (other than reading or watching movies!)

Michaelbrent: Not working? What’s that? I’m a husband and a dad and very active in my church, so between family and church stuff and work the last six seconds of every day are devoted almost entirely to sleeping and going to the bathroom. That being said, in an alternate universe where I have the time, I like to play videogames – another storytelling medium that is on the rise. I also love martial arts and have practiced them most of my adult life. Beyond those things, I DO read and watch movies. My favorite things are to go to a nice dinner with my wife – who is my best friend and the coolest chick I know – and then a movie. Or to go out with her and then hit up a bookstore and end up curled up in the middle of the stacks reading books together. Sigh. A dream. Oops! I can hear the baby crying. Time to get more duct tape.

Marty: Many thanks, Michaelbrent. See you on the Roundtable!


MichaelbrentMichaelbrent Collings is a bestselling novelist, produced screenwriter and WGA member, martial artist, and has a killer backhand on the badminton court (’cause he’s macho like that).

He published his first “paying” work – a short story for a local paper – at the age of 15. He won numerous awards and scholarships for creative writing while at college, and subsequently became the person who had more screenplays advance to quarterfinals and semifinals in the prestigious Nicholls Screenwriting competition in a single year than anyone else in the history of the competition.

His first produced script, Barricade, was made into a movie starring Eric McCormack of TV’sWill & Grace and Perception, and was released in 2012. Michaelbrent also wrote the screenplay for Darkroom, a movie starring Kaylee DeFer (Gossip Girl, Red State) and Elisabeth Rohm (Angel, Law & Order, Heroes). Darkroom is currently set for a 2013 release.

As a novelist, Michaelbrent has written numerous bestsellers, including Apparition, The Haunted, The Billy Saga, The Loon, Rising Fears, and others. In addition, he has also written dozens of non-fiction articles which have appeared in periodicals on several continents.

Michaelbrent is also a member of the WGA (Writers Guild of America) and in addition to selling, optioning, and doing rewrites on screenplays for major Hollywood production companies, he is currently developing several movies and television shows.

He hopes someday to develop superpowers, or, if that is out of the question, then at least to get a cool robot arm.

Michaelbrent has a wife and several kids, all of whom are much better looking than he is (though he admits that’s a low bar to set), and also cooler than he is.

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