A few weeks ago, when I started doing my interviews again, I was looking for some Indie writers that had self-published their own books that would give me a few minutes of time and answer of few questions. I was completely blown away by the response that I received. A lot of authors were so willing to be interviewed that I was completely stunned. However, nothing could have prepared me for one of the people that responded.
Evan Atwood is an award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter, who lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and works as a photojournalist to pay the bills. He has written, produced, and directed the short "parabolic" (of, relating to, or involving a parable) films "Forgiven," and "The Neighbor," which have both won awards for excellence. Evan is currently developing his first feature film: "The Father."
So, imagine my excitement when he contacted me about doing an interview! Read the interview of this talented man below:
AJ: Thank you for joining me in this interview today! Please tell us a little about yourself and your background that led you to become a writer.
EA: I started writing books when I was a kid, making illustrations for the stories and going on adventures through the characters that I wrote. I wrote a series of books about a boy named “Harry.” Harry built inventions. He invented a time machine, went back in time and got swallowed by a dinosaur. He built a submarine, and lived on the submarine for a couple days, eating seafood, and getting into a battle with a shark. I remember there were four of the books, and I later made claymations of the stories when I started making movies and animations as a teenager. But my parents were actors and wrote plays since before I was born, and their stories inspired me to write my own stories from an early age.
AJ: You’ve written a script for a film that really sounds intriguing. Care to tell us a little about the plot?
EA: Yes, the working title for the film is “The Father.” It’s about an amnesiac who wakes up on a public sidewalk with nothing to his name but a gold watch. As he comes to, he realizes that he has a bruised head, and that he has lost his memory. He doesn’t know his own name. But he remembers things about his home and his childhood, and he wants to find out who he is and find his way home. Someone comes to town who has lost his brother, and he bonds with the main character of our story. Together they search for traces of the lost brother, Christopher, and realize that he is still alive.
AJ: What inspired you to write about this particular theme?
EA: There are a couple of things that made me want to write this story. The first thing is the idea of longing for a time that has been lost. I began to be really intrigued with memories that I had that would open up feelings/memories of bliss. C.S. Lewis wrote on the topic that these times of life, which seem blissful in retrospect (nostalgia), had other feelings associated with them. They weren’t truly blissful. Rather, it’s just that singled out feeling that is blissful in memory form. So the idea of those sorts of memories is a metaphor for the longing for heaven, where there will be true, continuous happiness. And in this story, the main character longs for home as a metaphor for heaven. The longing for home is also what made me want to write this story, as it parallels the prodigal son story that Jesus told.
AJ: What was your goal, or mission, while writing this film?
EA: My mission in writing this film, and now in producing it, is to bring audiences on a journey that will take them — through this character’s eyes — from lostness and shame to grace and honor through the love of a forgiving father.
AJ: Who, or what, inspires your writing?
EA: C.S. Lewis is a huge inspiration for me. I’ve read many of his works of fiction, and many of his non-fiction books as well. Some of my favorites of his works are “Til We Have Faces,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “The Four Loves,” and "Mere Christianity." Recently, I took a New Testament class, and I have been inspired by the depth of skill with which the Gospels and the Pauline letters were written. Of course, the Holy Spirit was guiding them, but there is a specific literary style and skill with each book of the Bible. It's amazing what Paul communicated (controlled by the Holy Spirit) through the letters. Ultimately, it's the very love of God that inspires me. The sacrifice that Jesus made for us is where I find deep inspiration. And that love is truly what fuels my writing.
AJ: What was the hardest part of writing this film, and what did you enjoy most?
EA: The most difficult thing about writing this story has been trying to measure what the audience will experience in terms of being able to guess what is coming next. This is a mystery, a psychological mystery, and so to keep aspects of the outcome of the story hidden until just the right moment has been both challenging and a lot of fun. I can't know exactly what the audience will experience, at what point they'll be able to guess correctly at who someone is or what is going to happen next, but as I get feedback on the script I can get a sense of what my readers are picking up on as they read the screenplay. And I have to trust my own instincts about my own experience in the world of the story, and my emotions as I "play the characters" that I'm writing, putting myself in their shoes. I know how scenes make me feel, and so I have really explored the different segments of the story leading up to a revelation of a secret, some piece of the mystery that is uncovered as part of the bigger picture. I really dove deep into the story to try to craft an experience that will be very intriguing, as the mystery is unraveled slowly but surely. And part of that has been writing backwards, to be able to set up different moments of revelation along the way. So in this case, the hardest part has also been the most enjoyable.
AJ: Where is your favorite place to write?
EA: I actually built a standing desk a year and a half ago with my Dad, which is where I usually write. It's very wide, and also deep, and so it's very spacious and that helps me to focus somehow. I clear the whole desk off when I'm writing, so that it's just my keyboard and mouse on the desktop. That way there are no distractions either. And standing while writing allows for the best circulation, the best blood flow, and I'm able to focus better this way.
AJ: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
EA: I enjoy playing sports, and Spring has finally begun in Wisconsin where I live, so I’m looking forward to playing some ultimate Frisbee and softball! I also enjoy playing guitar and piano, playing board games and reading.
AJ: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
EA: I would love to work full-time at screenwriting. If I were paid enough from screenplays to get by, I would be pretty happy about that. I also enjoy other forms of writing, and I would love to write novels as well. But if I could do a mix of writing screenplays for other directors, making a film of my own every once in awhile, and writing a novel eventually, I think that would be really wonderful as far as a career goes.
AJ: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
EA: It really takes me time to get a story focused on one track. I know that a character needs one single goal, a desire, that drives his actions and directs the whole story toward that goal. But I stray from that goal really easily, going on tangents. It's difficult to really focus every scene to be truly, wholly, about that one thing.
AJ: How can readers discover more about you?
EA: Readers can follow this story "The Father" on the Facebook page. There is more information about the project, and information on how to donate toward our funding campaign, here.
Evan says the campaign will go until June 6th or 7th, so hurry and click on over to Indiegogo and donate to help fund this wonderful film.