TRANSCRIPT EP3 - Screenwriting for Streaming & Production with Melissa Rundle

Updated: Apr 12


Writing for Streaming Screenwriting Podcast

AUDIO OF THIS PODCAST IS AVAILABLE HERE


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You are listening to the IFH Podcast Network for more amazing filmmaking and screenwriting podcasts, just go to IFHpodcastnetwork.com

Geoffrey

All right. Welcome to the successful screenwriter podcast where we are dedicated to anything and everything screenwriting. Here we interview successful screenwriters and filmmakers to discover just what it takes to make it in the industry. We got a real special guest here we have Melissa Rundle, thanks for being on Melissa.


Melissa

Thank you so much for having me on.


Geoffrey

It's just great to have you on. So, from what I heard, you have written a lot of stuff and you've worked for a production company who's got work on Hulu, Netflix, Quibi so we just want to hear about your origin. How did you fall into screenwriting?


Melissa

I first started wanting to be a writer when I grew up in Vancouver and my parents divorced when I was two, my mom stayed in the city, my dad moved to the country and so I would spend summer vacations up there and this really beautiful town, but there was nothing to do and as a super nerdy allergic little girl I couldn't go outside so I started renting videos from the video store there and I saw the Godfather when I was nine


Geoffrey

Oh, my goodness(laughs)


Melissa

No, that's so crazy but I watched it on repeat the whole summer and then when I got to the city, I asked my school, please can you order me a screenplay copy of The Godfather? And they did. And I read it and I never read a screenplay before but I was just like, that's it. That's what I want to do.


Geoffrey

And how old were you?


Melissa

I was 9-10


Geoffrey

Wow, that's amazing and so then you've kind of geared towards that ever since that's been your focus.


Melissa

Yes.


Geoffrey

That’s impressive.


Melissa

Yeah, so I have detoured. I majored in women's studies and film production and even then, within the film production program, I really liked cinematography and editing, and I wasn't sure about writing. That's what I want to do but the more scripts that I wrote, it felt right.


Geoffrey

It's fantastic so you went to film school?


Melissa

Went to film school for undergrad and then I did detour for law school. It didn't take.


Geoffrey

Just trying it out, Yeah, why not.


Melissa

Yeah, it was in Montreal. It was the coldest winter on record, minus 30 degrees (Laughs) Celsius. I don't even know what that is Fahrenheit but it was really cool and the palm trees in California looked good so I applied to USC grad school for film production and from my thesis, I did a script. A lot of students they a director short film, but I think so many of my friends. Its 60 grand, and we're making a film and I was thinking oh, what's cheaper? Paper and ink but also I just want to write my feature so I wrote a feature called Plan B and it was about three teen girl best friends who have 72 hours to get the morning after pill. Its reality and I was interning for a director at the time called Mark Rossmann. He directed a Cinderella story, and the perfect man, starring Hilary Duff and so I thought, great. This is a teen girl comedy script. I'll give it to him and as soon as he read it, he wanted to direct it and we ended up doing it


Geoffrey

Yeah, it had to be really good because a director at that caliber, he'll read an intern script but if it's not that good, he'll just give you notes on it but if he wanted to make it and wrap it, kudos to you. That's fantastic. That's taking advantage of an opportunity when you see it and that's one of the ways that you break in.


Melissa

Yeah, that’s true. I was definitely nervous to give it to him but I mostly gave it to him as, if you could please give me feedback. I never assumed that I'm giving this to you to direct, no. Please give me some feedback.


Geoffrey

Yeah, you weren't dripping with desperation. You didn't have all of your hopes and dreams on this script. Obviously impressed him.


Melissa

I feel if you can, in any genre, if you could write what you know, or if you can bring, any kind of seeds of authenticity to your story, I think that really helped because a lot of the feedback I got from that script was wow, I can't believe all this happened. Yeah, it really did.


Geoffrey

I think that's really interesting, because people tend to talk about, oh, you know, gritty realism, but realism doesn't have to be gritty. It just has to be authentic and I think you're absolutely right by bringing in that voice of authenticity, of not just knowing the material or knowing your characters, but emotionally being able to express it and I would assume you're not just being a woman, but you had you majored in women's studies so that reinforced what you're going through as well. I think that's a really great tip for anybody listening, that brings some authenticity to your stories, and it will take it to another level. It's fantastic.


Melissa

I also feel about what you mentioned about knowing your characters, I think that is also so important. I almost feel audiences will watch an interesting character and maybe the plot isn't that great, but I feel if the character is interesting, and will hold an audience's attention better, and I don't know, I feel sometimes, if I'm having trouble getting to know a character, what I'll do is I'll do this one exercise and it's I will write and record everything about the character from the moment the character wakes up to the time it goes ahead, the character goes to sleep.


Geoffrey

So a day in their life. , what a great drill. I love that. Fantastic technique, Wonderful.


Melissa

Yeah and even if you're having trouble imagining stuff, you can just start with your own stuff, what kind of sheets are in your bed? what's the art in your bedroom and just kind of start spinning and then what's really cool is I feel if you really know your character, the character will start to do things on their own.


Geoffrey

Yeah, they’ll definitely speak to you. I remember writing out an outlining a plot and then doing a sci fi film was getting wrapped at sci fi channel it was a creature horror film. It was really cool and I had written initially for one of the characters to die within the first 15 pages, and that was outline and everything and she would not let me kill her off and so the very end of the script, , and then I had to kill her off and so sometimes they will speak to you. That's absolutely true and then, you know, do the best he can to adapt to that. Wow, what a great drill. I got to be honest with you, I'm probably going to steal that technique when I'm teaching and writing (laughs) If the guy that wrote a screenwriting book is stealing a technique for you, that should say something? Well, I guess you could call that kind of your big break moment. Getting into it and then from there, I assume you ended up landing some writing gigs at their production companies.


Melissa

I feel everyone's path is kind of different and luck and just weird circumstances plays a part in that but yes, so we went out with it, we went out with Plan B, and it attracted my reps. So that was great.


Geoffrey

Now did you approach representation or did they approach you word of mouth?


Melissa

They did approach me and a lot of writers have asked me, how do you get your reps and I do feel I totally lucked out. I think because we took the script out with Mark directing, and Neil Israel producing.


Geoffrey

Yeah, of course, He had some hate behind the project.


Melissa

Yeah and get to my management company, which is also a production company and they read it and they really liked it. They liked my voice because when I got back was wow, this is really I don't think teen girls like this and this is too edgy but I felt that there was something there my voice was very defined and through that, um, I got to Cartoon Network holiday specials super kid friendly, g rated, that's good.


Geoffrey

So you landed that through Plan B, did Plan B get made?


Melissa

No.


Geoffrey