Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist Vaughn Roste
Chicago Screenplay Awards Questionnaire
By Chicago Screenplay Awards Dept.
Where were you born? Where do you live? And what’s your hobby?
I’m Canadian by birth, I currently live in Indiana. Playing board games isn’t so much a hobby, it’s more of an obsession.
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?
The story of the massacre of Myall Creek is one that more people should be familiar with. Personally I became familiar with it during my first trip to Australia – one of the best vacations of my life! Myall is the incredible true story of a massacre of indigenous Australians which occurred at Myall Creek in 1838 – and of the prosecution that followed. It marked the first time anywhere in the British Empire that white settlers were prosecuted for killing indigenous Australians. You can imagine how well this prosecution would have gone over in pre-Civil War America. In short, this was the historical precedent for Black Lives Matter.
From concept to finished draft, can you take us through your screenwriting process?
I spend a lot of time on the research for a screenplay, perhaps too long – but I read essentially every published source on the subject. Then it’s character sketches, an outline of events, and one to draft one.
When did you realize that you wanted to become a screenwriter?
This will sound horrible, but there are way too many horrible movies made! I saw one a long time ago (who am I kidding, I saw one last night…), and said to myself “I could write a better movie than that” – and then I knew I had to prove it, if only to myself. Turns out, now that I’ve been in a business longer, I have a good idea of how those terrible movies get made – there’s a lack of time, a lack of budget, and sometimes the politics. Once you incorporate 100 different visions of what a movie should be you sometimes dilute the purity. However, the good news is there are still a lot of good movies that get made too.
Who are your biggest filmmaking/screenwriting influences? What about their style do you like or borrow?
I am not worthy to tie the shoes on Aaron Sorkin’s feet.
Have you ever been obsessed with a movie or TV show? If so, which one? Why?
I get obsessed with everything I binge – but some of the epic movies retain my perpetual attention: Star Wars, Tolkien, and Game of Thrones. In the television space I tend to gravitate towards Limited Series, where Queen’s Gambit, Chernobyl, and Unbelievable take top honours in my view.
What’s your favorite moment in cinema history? Why?
Sixth Sense had the best twist in cinema history in my opinion.
Who’s your favorite character in cinema history? Why?
I don’t know about favourite, but Forrest Gump is one of the most unforgettable.
If you could talk to anyone from any era, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Maybe Christopher Columbus… “you know heading west is no shorter right, getting to India….? You know the Earth is round, but you used math to figure that out – have you not figured out how long even a trip uninterrupted by land would take by boat from Spain to China? Let’s go round the Horn of Africa instead and save millions of lives….”