We know that many women—daunted by the Hollywood system and the technicalities of having to learn Final Draft or filmmaking tools—have felt their stories more welcomed in the publishing and journalism worlds than in the scriptwriting worlds. For this reason, we are reaching out to at least one accomplished prose writer for every showcase, to mentor them through the process of scriptwriting, so we can flood the Hollywood market with women’s stories. Our first writer is Wendy C. Ortiz, one of Los Angeles’ brightest literary stars. Author of Excavation: A Memoir (Future Tense Books, 2014) and Hollywood Notebook (Writ Large Press, 2015), Wendy’s also written a year-long monthly column about marijuana in Southern California for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Her work is everywhere, and she’s justly getting praised, so we asked her to adapt a short essay, “Spell,” for our Spring Showcase, and it is already phenomenal. Directed by Nora Ephron Prize winner Meera Menon, “Spell” tells the story of a girl’s love affair with words and the teacher who taught them.
1. What are the top 3 movies/plays that have inspired you?
I don’t tend to keep static lists of influences. I think my influences shift and change regularly, sometimes depending on my own projects, or concepts I’m trying to sort out in my life or my work. Lately I’ve been SUPER inspired by television. As for film, influences I can name today (inspiring due to the way the stories treat characters, how beauty can be coaxed from pain and tragedy, how epic these films feel in my current consciousness): Shame by Steve McQueen; The Shining by Stanley Kubrick; Apocalypse Now by Francis Ford Coppola.
2. Did you go to film school? What led you to being a writer or director?
I did not go to film school. The most I’ve done in this field is a 16mm filmmaking workshop many years ago in Olympia, Washington. I’ve been a writer since I was a child, first writing ghost stories and poems then later zines and books. It’s taken over my life and guided many decisions I’ve made ever since.
Being introduced to One Axe is like walking through a door into a world I’ve wanted to imagine existed, and at some points of my life, tried to create something similar into existence. I’m stunned by the generosity, encouragement and warm spirit of collaboration modeled by One Axe so far. There is no reason why I wouldn’t want to collaborate!
4. “Where are you going, where have you been?”
I’ve been around the block and to many a rodeo and I’m always game for what’s right around the corner.