Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist Laurie McKinsey

Chicago Screenplay Awards Questionnaire

By Chicago Screenplay Awards Dept.


  1. What’s your name? Where were you born? Where do you live? And what’s your hobby?      

My name is Laurie McKinsey. I was born in Oklahoma but now live in Boston. My hobby is writing. The pandemic has cut out most of my other hobbies.

  1. 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 screenplay, Holistic Admissions, is about the frenzy around elite college admissions. I started writing it a year ago after my youngest got into college, and have been getting feedback and updating it for the last year.

  1. From concept to finished draft, can you take us through your screenwriting process?    

I had been jotting down notes about the crazy things that people do to get into college for the last 20 years while my kids went through Ivy-obsessed prep schools in the Boston area. I decided to ask the question, what if the people I have read about and heard about hired a genius college counselor who could put those college strategies on steroids? After writing the first draft, I got multiple coverages and kept revising.

  1. When did you realize that you wanted to become a screenwriter?  

Not until I got the idea for Holistic Admissions in my 50’s. I didn’t write it because I wanted to be a screenwriter, necessarily. I wrote it because I wanted to start a discussion about the frenzy around elite college admissions in America and what it means for our society. Is it fair? Does it promote excellence? Should it change? I think the best way to start that conversation is to look at the process holistically.

  1. Who are your biggest filmmaking/screenwriting influences? What about their style do you like or borrow?     

I love the dry humor of Christopher Guest movies, especially This Is Spinal Tap and Waiting for Guffman. I would love to borrow the process of creating outrageous but lovable characters and then finding great comedic actors who can make them even better.

  1. Have you ever been obsessed with a movie or TV show? If so, which one? Why? 

I was obsessed with The Partridge Family because David Cassidy was my first love. It taught me that having a teen heartthrob in your TV series is a big plus.

  1. What’s your favorite moment in cinema history? Why?   

The final scenes in The Avengers movies. It was such a gift to have both my college-age kids home for six months during the pandemic. They wanted to watch all 23 Marvel movies together, which I thought would be torture. But I loved them all and really enjoyed having those family memories that we still discuss today. I learned that the best movies are the ones that are an event that you want to share and discuss with those who are closest to you.

  1. Who’s your favorite character in cinema history? Why?   

Scarlett O’Hara. Because she’s a total badass.

  1. If you could talk to anyone from any era, who would it be and what would you ask them?   

Galileo. How did you have the vision to see what others couldn’t see and have the courage to act on it?

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