The first of the follow up emails came in last night. I fully anticipate that several will be, basically, “Yeah, I took your advice but nothing much happened.” This one, however, was particularly encouraging, especially considering my glib-in-retrospect reply.
Here’s the original question and answer:
I’m submitting a script to a screenplay competition and to an agent that accepts unsolicited material. Both ask for a biography. Common sense says to keep it short and sweet-and spell everything correctly. But I’m finding it very hard to write anything other than a two or three sentence summation of my education and career (none of which is entertainment related and all of which is surely boring). I suppose I could add something about my interests or goals as a writer, but does anyone care? Any advice or guidance would be greatly appreciated.
Here’s my all-purpose screenwriter bio. Change the relevant details to match.
Mark Anonymous hails from Osh Kosh, Pennsylvania, the zipper capital of the world. The son of average suburbanites, he found escape from the crushing sameness of early-90’s America through the films of Pedro Almodovar and Lars Van Trier. Inspired to become a rule-breaking filmmaker, he dedicated himself to learning the rules so that he might break them more fully and artistically. To this end, he earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Oberlin, where he made stylish and inscrutable films. Forced to take a slave-job at The Gap in order to repay monumental student loans, he turned his attention to screenwriting, hand-scribing his first feature-length screenplay during slow periods in Men’s Wear. That script wasn’t very good. However, his second screenplay, A SWIFTLY TILTING DOUGHNUT, turned out great. A light-hearted riff on Joseph Conrad’s HEART OF DARKNESS, DOUGHNUT tells the story of a Krispy Kreme manager sent to close an unprofitable store in the Florida panhandle. Mark is 25 and lives in Pittsburg.
And here’s what happened next:
You answered my question about how to write a bio on Sept. 8, 2003.
At the time I was 33 years old, living on the east coast (still am) and working a day job as a textbook proofreader (still doing that too).
I was writing my first ever script, a short for a competition. I was feeling a little silly, like I was too old and too far away (geographically and metaphorically) from Hollywood to ever justify the amount of time and energy that I was spending on that little 15 page script.
When you answered my question, it kept the flickering flame of my optimism alive and played a part in keeping me on track to finish the script and the application.
The script won one of 3 grants and was shot the next spring in L.A. I got to hang around during pre-production and be on the set all three days that we shot. The only thing I didn’t get to participate in and see was post-production because I had to get back to my day job after 3 weeks. It was the best experience of my life and I haven’t stopped trying to write my way back to L.A. Since.
You can see the final bio that I wrote here.
The film, if you’re interested, can be seen [here](http://www.planetout.com/content/movie/?id=74&navpath=/entertainment/popcorn q/posma/).
It’s about 8 minutes long, I think. Try to hang in there until the middle, when one of my favorite actresses ever, Jane Lynch, begins her turn as the antagonist of the story. I wish I could take credit for her hilarity, but she is a improv genius, as we will all see yet again this weekend in For Your Consideration.
Watching her play a role that I wrote was right up there with having my question answered by John August.
Thanks so much for all you do to help new screenwriters out. What you do helped to change my life.
— Melanie Aswell