Books Magazine

Chris Bowen

By Scriptedwhim
Chris Bowen
Chris Bowen is a playwright and a screenwriter. He is a recent graduate of Northwestern’s Writing for the Screen + Stage MFA program, and has had four plays produced in the Wilmington, NC area. Chris has received numerous honors for the short films he has written, including “Best Comedy” for Off the Wall and “Best Film” for Mime Unit, both at the One Take Film Festival. This past summer (2012), he was a development intern at Lionsgate Films. He is currently working on a screenplay about weird sex fetishes.
Chris on...
The Process... I usually work on a project in my head for quite awhile before I put anything on paper. I just like to live with the mood and the characters, work out different avenues and scenarios in a low-stress way. Somehow, when I start to work it out on paper it becomes more real and the stakes are raised, which stresses me out. As far as actual pages, I have to put aside time to do it, which is always in the morning. If I don’t get into a groove first thing in the morning, I probably won’t accomplish anything at all that day. But I’m constantly working on it in my head.
Satisfaction Feeling the sense of accomplishment when I type “FADE OUT, THE END.” at the end of the first draft. The first draft is always the hardest part of the process for me.
Knowing When I was first starting out, I was very lucky to live in a town with a lot of passion for locally produced theater. I wrote a handful of plays that got full productions, and each show seemed to go over better than the previous one. I felt that I was learning what worked and what didn’t with audiences and, for the most part, succeeding at what I was trying to do. That’s what gave me the confidence to apply to MFA programs.
Inspiration One very specific work that inspired me was a local play called Django Salvatori’s Awe-Inspiring, Death-Defying Big Top Spectacuganza, Featuring Ralph, which was written by Justin Cioppa. We went through the film studies and creative writing programs together at UNCW. His play was just so full of big ideas and heart and humor, it transcended everything that I thought was a limiting factor in storytelling and inspired me to think bigger and try harder.
The First Time After I graduated from undergrad, I wrote and directed a no-budget feature length horror movie. When it was finally finished, we had a premiere at a local movie theater. I was excited to see it on the big screen in front of a sold out crowd. To my dismay, it pretty much bombed, but I learned a lot about myself and my writing from the experience. It seems so obvious in retrospect, but most of my characters didn’t have clear goals or arcs, so this story that is supposed to be tense and claustrophobic never really took off. I fixed those elements in my next script, which went over much better with the audience.
Advice “Write what only you can write.” I think so many young writers, myself included, try and copy the style of their favorite writers. Which is okay at the beginning, but at some point you have to transition and develop your own voice. I love Tarantino movies as much as the next guy, but you know who will always make better Tarantino movies than you? Tarantino.

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