Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist Bronwyn Isaac
Chicago Screenplay Awards Questionnaire
By Chicago Screenplay Awards Dept.
What’s your name? Where were you born? Where do you live? And what’s your hobby?
My name is Bronwyn Isaac. I was born in Seattle, and currently live in Brooklyn. My hobby is watching the worst straight-to-DVD movies on earth and becoming emotionally attached to one-dimensional characters and then forcing my loved ones to rewatch with me.
Where did you come up with the concept that just placed as Finalist in the screenplay contest? How long did it take you to develop it into the screenplay it is now?
My script is a fictionalized version of a real life experience getting stranded abroad by a trust-fund scammer Billy McFarland type a few years ago. I first started thinking about drafting this pilot a few years back, but it took a year of procrastination before I even got basic ideas down. The last two years I finally drafted and rewrote it a few times to inch it towards what I’d want to see on a screen.
From concept to finished draft, can you take us through your screenwriting process?
My process involves a lot of barfing into Google docs, until I can finally organize my thoughts enough to figure out a basic plot arc. From there, it’s just writing and rewriting and going through cycles of despair and delusion.
When did you realize that you wanted to become a screenwriter?
I have always loved the visual nature of storytelling, and screenwriting is one of the most overtly visual ways to tell a story.
Who are your biggest filmmaking/screenwriting influences? What about their style do you like or borrow?
This is a hard and scary question! I love Paul Schrader and Nora Ephron, naturally. I think Zach Helm bodied “Stranger Than Fiction,” and the mixture of meta humor, tender existentialism, and comedy is something I really aspire to.
Have you ever been obsessed with a movie or TV show? If so, which one? Why?
Yes. I am currently obsessed with “The Righteous Gemstones” because I think it hits so many levels of comedic commentary at once without feeling too much like it’s preaching (pun intended) or merely relying on shenanigans. I immediately became obsessed with “Jane The Virgin” because it’s tightly written and the characters are all so deeply fleshed out and human, even when they’re caught up in the most theatrical plotlines. “Peep Show” will always be one of my favorite dark comedies. It’s one I return to because it feels realist and cynical in a super cathartic way.
What’s your favorite moment in cinema history? Why?
I don’t have a committed answer to this, because it’s too hard. But I love almost every moment in “Umbrellas of Cherbourg” where Catherine Deneuve is sitting by the window crying and writing forlorn love letters.
Who’s your favorite character in cinema history? Why?
I don’t have a definitive answer for this because it’s so tough. However, I do regularly think about the babysitter in the 1992 movie “Beethoven” (the seminal dog movie). This character has stuck in my mind since childhood as so distinctively funny. There’s something so beautiful about this middle-aged woman performing piano for these kids she’s watching. She’s telling them about the clubs she performs in, channeling all this diva energy into her home recital, while the littlest girl is nearly drowning in her pool. Laurel Cronin is fully committed to the babysitter’s charm and narcissism, and I think the funniest aspect is how this character exposes the most embarrassing instincts of ambition/being a performer.
If you could talk to anyone from any era, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I would love to sit down with Frances Marion and get the gossip about all the silent film actors and their affairs. I’d also genuinely love to hear about her activism and experience navigating Hollywood in the first half of the 1900s.