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American Gem Short Screenplay & Literary Festival
2011 Screenplay Contest

Enter your Short Screenplay, Short Story, Treatment in American Gem Short Screenplay Contest / Literary Festival. 

Winning Screenplay in the American Gem Short Screenplay Contest will be Produced.

Grand Prize Winner / Short Screenplay Gets to Pitch Screenplay to Producers, Studio Executives and Agents. Certificate of achievement awards to the Top 25 scripts and top 3 in each of the other categories.

from script to screen


| Interviews | Loglines | Synopsis | Script Excerpts | Winners |


FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards
Screenplay Contest Interview



CATEGORY 3 / Comedy

Kathy C. King


Kathy C. King
of Grand Forks, ND, USA




Kathy C. King - Born in New Jersey, Kathy Coudle King holds a BFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU and an MA in English from the U. of ND. Her first screenplay, SHRIMP PO'BOY, a black comedy set in Louisiana, was a semi-finalist for the Nicholl's, and won the Marco Island Film Festival, as well as placing in the top 50 in Filmmakers. HOTTIES, a mystery, was a top ten winner in Indiescript, and was in the top 100 for Filmmakers. UNNATURAL DISASTER, dealing with assimilation in the Cuban-American community in Florida, was a top ten finalist for Cynosure's best minority protagonist award. King has written more than 50 stage plays, enjoying productions across the U.S., is a founding member of the ND Playwrights Co-op, and the author of WANNABE, a coming of age novel set in a Cuban-American town in NJ. She teaches English and Women Studies at the University of ND. A list of her plays can be found at .


Part 1.


I knew we wanted to be screenwriters........

I have a degree in playwriting, and as a student at NYU I'd taken some screenwriting classes as an undergrad and then as a grad student, but it didn't really click for me until I attended Moondance Film Festival after a short story I'd written was named a Finalist. At the Festival I sat in on some seminars and got really jazzed to go home and finish a script I'd started several years previous. That script ended up being named a semi-finalist for the Nicholl's as well as making it into the top fifty for Filmmakers the following year. After that initial encouragement, the stories just kept coming and couldn't be told on the stage or as a novel. They demand the screen and I just continue oblige them.

I know I've succeeded........ 

I've been fortunate to see my plays performed, but screenwriting is a whole other thing. It seems like success as a screenwriter only comes when your script is produced. This is definitely a level of success, but since I've continued to write screenplays without benefit of production (yet!) I take a lot of pleasure in simply completing a script. That's definitely a success when you think of all the people who have "an idea" that dies on the vine before ever coming to fruition. And every time I revise a script and feel like it's a little bit closer to what I'm trying to convey, that's a measure of success, too. I enter contests and if I can get into the semi-finals or better I take that as an affirmation that someone in the industry has read my work and finds value in the story. When you're an unproduced screenwriter with this movie playing in your head that you can't show to anyone but your writing group or a few good friends, getting that outside affirmation is a bit like the tree falling in the forest -- yes, it did make a sound and someone heard it.


My inspiration to write HIP HOP DADDY....

How does a white soccer mom write a script about an African-American single dad? Well, I was at a wedding reception, and my nephew who happens to be bi-racial was there with his best friend, who's African-American. Here were these two guys in their mid-twenties rocking newborn babies on their hips, burping, changing diapers, mixing bottles of formula in the midst of carrying on a conversation. A generation before them, their own fathers were said to "baby sit" their kids, but these men were completely in charge of their sons. It was as second nature to them as what society calls "maternal instinct". My nephew's friend takes his son with him everywhere; in fact, I've never met the baby's mother even though she's in the picture. I thought about all the negative press African-American men get for skipping out on their families. There are "dead beat dads" within every race, and the single black father gets no ink. Movies have celebrated white stay-at-home dads (Mr. Mom, Tootsie, 3 Men and a Baby), but it seems like the idea of an African-American man being a hands-on single-dad doesn't exist on the big screen. (Television has done a better job celebrating the African-American father, however, to some degree -- thank you Mr. Cosby.) I just thought I'd take a shot at leading the applause for these guys who are doing the right thing. 


Part 2.


FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Kathy C. King: As the youngest child, I'm part family clown and part observer. This combination was the natural makings for a kid drawn to the page and theatre. By the time I was 15 I'd written my first play, and I haven't stopped writing since.

FilmMakers Magazine: What did you do to prepare yourself to write your first script?

Kathy C. King: While I know a good bit about parenting, I knew nothing about the world my main character inhabits. I knew I wanted to use a hookah bar as a location, and I had to educate myself about the mechanics of that, as well as immerse myself in hip hop music. Sometimes I'd have this kind of out of body experience where I'd see myself, proud owner of a mini van, singing along to 50 cent or Mos' def and it just made me giggle. 

FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script and how long did it take you to complete?

Kathy C. King: I'm embarrassed to admit how many scripts I've written. I read somewhere that the average screenwriter has written 8 scripts before they sell their first. So let's just say I am a late bloomer and leave it at that.

I'm one of those freaky writers who works from an outline, so once I had that it took me about a week to complete the first draft (I did it over spring break), but I've been revising it now for over a year. 

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you have a set routine, place and time management for writing?

Kathy C. King:
No. I teach so my life revolves around semesters and reading other people's writing. So I build the script in my head over a long period of time, developing a working outline as I go. Then when it feels like I can't stand it any longer I'll take a week and just hammer out a first draft, go back and tinker with it on and off for awhile until it feels done. But I've come to learn that a script can always stand further revising. It's a bit like sculpting, I think. The more you chip at it the clearer the form is revealed.

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests are important for aspiring screenwriters and why?

Kathy C. King: I do. As I mentioned earlier, when you're not selling your scripts or getting them produced, a contest is a way to get some encouragement from people beyond your circle that "yes" you are creating stories with some value. Also, I have had some luck getting my work read by different development people and I think it's often due to success I've had in contests. It gives you a bit more cred when you send out those cold queries, I think.

FilmMakers Magazine: What influenced you to enter the FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards / Screenplay Contest?

Kathy C. King: I had good luck with Filmmakers in the past, and the first year I made it into the top 50 with my first screenplay, I think I also received a discount to the Screenwriters Expo. That was one of the best things I ever did for my professional development. I learned more in that weekend than I'd learned in the handful of screenwriting classes I'd taken in college. I have to thank Filmmakers for that.

FilmMakers Magazine: What script would you urge aspiring writers to read and why?

Kathy C. King: Oh, gosh, there are so many, aren't there? I guess I'd have to go with a classic like Casablanca. Structure is essential to learn and is beautifully illustrated in this script. However, sometimes a more difficult thing to grasp is those character arcs. You can have a beautifully structured piece but if the character development isn't there, who really cares, you know? I think the character arcs in Casablanca are a perfect example of what can be done in a script.

FilmMakers Magazine: Beside screenwriting what are you passionate about and why?

Kathy C. King: As I mentioned, I come to screenwriting from the theatre. I love writing plays as much as I love writing screenplays. I am involved with community and college theatre, and founded the ND Playwrights Co-op as a means for other writers in a huge, sparsely populated state to engage in discussion about their scripts. I write a lot of social issue plays mixed with gobs of humor so it doesn't feel like I'm preaching. Actually, I try to write about things that I'm not all together sure I have any answers about. That gray area of life is the most fun to play in.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Kathy C. King: I love, love, love Nora Ephron. She's able to mix the poignant with the whacky and I find her stories feel really relevant to my life.

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the director you would love to work with and why?

Kathy C. King: Penny Marshall. I grew up watching her on Laverne and Shirley; my best friend and I used to argue about who got to be her when we acted out scenes from the show. (I'm actually much more like Shirley, though.) I think she'd be great to collaborate with on one of my comedies.

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the actor you would love to work with and why?

Kathy C. King: Tom Hanks. I think you can see a pattern here. Ephron, Marshall, and Hanks all have the ability to draw us in with humor and then just when our hearts are open -- they squeeze. I try to do that with my writing, as well.

FilmMakers Magazine: Any tips and things learned along the way to pass on to others?

Kathy C. King: Revision is not the enemy! If you think of it more as re-visioning, as Adrienne Rich called it, then it's less of a chore and more of another creative step in the process of uncovering the story you want to tell.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Kathy C. King: I have no control over if and when someone will buy a script, but nobody can stop me from writing. Not even me! The damn stories keep filling up my brain and if I don't get them out soon I'm going to be a bear to live with. I have two scripts I've started and need to finish. One is about a 3-legged dog, "Apu Gets Lucky," and the other, "Character Driven," is about a writer who wants to give up after years of trying, only to discover that quitting isn't that easy. Then there's this time travel piece I want to work on, "Lola's Legacy" -- not so much sci-fi -- more fantasy.

FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from now?

Kathy C. King: Writing.


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