Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist Amelia Solomon
Chicago Screenplay Awards Questionnaire
By Chicago Screenplay Awards Dept.
Who are you and where are you from?
Amelia Solomon from Los Angeles, California, by way of Long Island, New York.
Where and when did you come up with the idea for your screenplay?
My writing partner, Matt McHugh, had an idea for a show about a woman who breaks up marriages to catch cheaters he’d named Homewreckers, Inc. He pitched it and a handful of other ideas to a male executive,. The executive said to be careful about this particular concept, cautioning that it might offend women. Matt told me what had transpired. I was surprised, and asked him to send me the pitch. I read it and thought it was clever, and told him I thought the executive was wrong. In fact, I said it actually was empowering to women. Then, oddly enough, I embarked on a part-time career as a nanny, and began taking care of children for very wealthy people in Los Angeles, entering a world I’d never known before. I had some stories to share, and thus we set out to write Faithful Nannies.
Can you take us through your screenwriting process?
I usually get an idea at three in the morning, text Matt about it, we make a bunch of jokes and throw out ideas on text, then screenshot the ideas. Eventually, after the idea marinates in my head for two to three months, we begin to write it, starting with a concept sheet that describes the characters and their backstory, and a logline for both the pilot and series. Then we do an extensive outline, where we flesh out the A story, B story, the all-is-lost moment, and the act-outs. We then do an outline where we write a paragraph for each scene, so by the time we sit down to write the actual script, it flows well.
What made you want to become a screenwriter?
When I was 11, I wrote a spec script of Empty Nest. I had no idea what a spec script was, but I just wanted to write an episode of one of my favorite TV shows. In college, I was inspired by Clerks and Dazed and Confused, and set out to write my first screenplay about a bunch of misfits about to graduate college with no career prospects. (It was loosely autobiographical.)
Who are your biggest filmmaking influences?
Probably the screenwriters who most inspired me to write. Kevin Smith, Richard Linklater, Alan Ball, and Mike White.
Have you ever been obsessed with a movie or TV show? If so, which one?
Of course. My latest obsession is Succession. And I tell anyone who will listen that it’s not glorifying rich white people; it’s a brilliant satire.
What’s your favorite moment in cinema history?
When American Beauty won Best Picture and Best Screenplay. The film really spoke to me at 21, and it was neat to see something that mesmerized me be recognized.
Who’s your favorite character in cinema history?
Laura Dern’s character, Amy Jellico, in Enlightened. There was something so honest and raw about her, and it was ahead of its time. I think characters like Fleabag exist because Dern’s character, Amy, paved the way for women to be portrayed equally as messed up as men.
If you could talk to anyone from any era, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I’d want to talk to Jerry Garcia. I’d ask him how he was inspired to create so many amazing songs.