Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist Sean Jasko
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?
Hi there! My name is Sean Jasko. I was born in Oak Park, Illinois. Raised in Bolingbrook, Illinois and I currently live in the Northcenter neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. I’m an actor/writer and I love video games, sports, wrasslin’, board games, comic books, and playing with my amazing son Beau. He and my wife/best friend Yvette are my world.
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?
I came up with the idea for Reunited a number of years ago after wanting to write a love letter of sorts to one of my best friends that I hardly get to see anymore. We used to be inseparable but our lives took us on different paths. It took some time to figure out exactly what I wanted to say, but collaborating with my writing partner, Mike Schminke, on a separate project really got the creative juices flowing. We were able to write the script over the majority of the summer of 2021.
From concept to finished draft, can you take us through your screenwriting process?
A lot of the initial story lived in my brain for years. It wasn’t until I pitched the idea and showed the first few scenes to Mike that were we able to take this idea and turn it into something tangible. We met over zoom and had a bunch of 2-3 hour sessions where we would go over the general story and riff a lot of the script like we were kind of improvising around a guide/outline of the story. That’s how many of the jokes and bits were created. Just a couple of bozos joshin’ around.
When did you realize that you wanted to become a screenwriter?
I’ve always loved telling stories, but I feel like I knew I wanted to be a writer in some capacity as a teenager where I write short stories, poems, and lyrics to music. I continued down this path and wrote bad comedies inspired by my love for It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Walking Dead, and BASEketball until I was able to find my voice and realize the stories I wanted to tell. I’m an actor first though, so sometimes a big motivation for me is to write something I would like to be able to act in myself.
Who are your biggest filmmaking/screenwriting influences? What about their style do you like or borrow?
My biggest influences depend on the genre. I grew up on Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day, and Glenn Howerton (It’s Always Sunny). I idolized them because they were able to create their own work for themselves to act in. I think my style of comedy really mirrors theirs in a way, but mostly I just like to write what I think is silly and makes me laugh while writing it. I feel confident that what makes me smile will make others smile too.
If we’re talking about dramatic work, I really appreciate anything that makes you feel emotions that you might not have known existed or maybe you repressed. Good Will Hunting comes up a lot for me. I really appreciate how that film shares its trauma and helps you understand the characters and their decisions. If you feel like you identify with any of them, you’re challenged while also feeling like you’re maybe not so alone with those feelings.
I am really partial to any actor that found a way to create their own work so that the world could enjoy their art and hear their voice.
Have you ever been obsessed with a movie or TV show? If so, which one? Why?
Obsessed is a strong word, but I definitely fell in love with shows like Seinfeld and Sunny while I was growing up. Shows I can watch at any time to lift my spirits. I’m also a big comic book nerd and a huge Christopher Nolan fan.
I think one of my favorite films is Interstellar. I love space, but more importantly, I love how this movie takes a somewhat tropey concept of “the end of the world” and turns it into this very beautiful, very personal story about the love between a father and his daughter. Emotionally it does similar things to me that The Last of Us did. Both of those always make me cry and their impact on my soul has evolved since the birth of my son.
What’s your favorite moment in cinema history? Why?
I think my favorite moment in cinema is a bit unique. So, I loved The Dark Knight. Like, I really loved it. I loved it so much that when I found out they were making a sequel, The Dark Knight Rises, I knew I would see it. I knew it so much so that I decided I did not need to see any trailers and in fact, I decided to boycott any trailers, pictures, articles, any news whatsoever about the film. I thought it would be a really cool experience to see it blind. This brings me to the stadium scene, seeing that stadium explode and the build-up to that scene will be burned into my mind forever. I know it was in the trailer, so I’m grateful that I did not see this moment coming. It just impacts you so much different that way. I love that movie and that scene gave me chills and blew my mind.
Who’s your favorite character in cinema history? Why?
I think my favorite character would have to be Will Hunting from Good Will Hunting. It’s a character that by all means should be totally broken as a person. He has to overcome his trauma and his distrust for people close to him and often he messes it up, but we leave the film with the hope that he’s going to make things right. Which is great, I can’t stand films that leave you with no hope in the end. He gave me hope when I was younger and I’m thankful to have met him through that film as a young man.
If you could talk to anyone from any era, who would it be and what would you ask them?
This might be a weird answer but it’s just the truth. If I could talk to anyone from any era I would have to say that it would be my wife’s grandmother. She wasn’t in the film industry, but my wife always says I would have loved her and she would have loved me. I just wish I had a chance to drink a Paloma with her and gab with her at her home in Palm Springs.