Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist Jamie Campbell

Chicago Screenplay Awards Questionnaire

By Chicago Screenplay Awards Dept.

Who are you and where are you from? 

Jamie Campbell.  I’m based out of Kansas City, but am originally from Oklahoma.  

Where and when did you come up with the idea for your screenplay?

This screenplay has had a long journey.  It’s inspired by true events.  When I was 12 years old, my mother was in the middle of a hopeless custody battle. She took my siblings and me on the run. We hid out from the police for six months, living under assumed names before a private investigator found us.  I turned the story into a one-man show that I toured all over the United States. This screenplay isn’t THAT story, but it borrows heavily from those real life events.  

Can you take us through your screenwriting process? 

I’m still learning. I work best with deadlines, so even if I’m just writing on my own, I give myself a structured schedule. Getting regular feedback is important.  I also try to set aside time every day to write, no matter what else is going on in my life.  Some days I write for hours.  Sometimes, I only manage a few minutes.  

What made you want to become a screenwriter?

Our stories are what connect us. A film is a shared experience for everyone that watches it.  People all over the world who will never meet get to experience the same story.  I think that’s pretty special. 

Who are your biggest filmmaking influences? 

I love Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue. Anything Adam McKay works on.  When I was younger, I was really into films that left you with feeling of despair in the pit of your stomach – like a lot of Kubrick’s work can do.  Maybe it was teen angst, but if a movie made me feel hopeless, I loved it. The older I get, the more I love seeing films that make me feel the opposite.  I want hope. I want to feel inspired. I want to feel good.

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

Yeah. Back to the Future.  It was my favorite film as a kid, and as an adult, it’s comfort food.  Every time I watch it, I feel like I’m ten years old again. 

What’s your favorite moment in cinema history? 

I guess it’s tv – not cinema – but, there is a scene from Breaking Bad when Walter White kills his rival, Gus Fring. Right before Gus dies, he walks out of a room where a bomb went off. Half of his face is perfectly intact. As a viewer, you wonder if he’s going to survive.  Then the camera pans and shows you the other half of his face.  It’s obliterated. But, he’s still standing there, straightening his tie. This guy has been destroyed, but he’s such a bad guy that part of you thinks he might survive. I doubt that’s necessarily my favorite moment, but it’s the first thing that came to mind. 

Who’s your favorite character in cinema history? 

Santa Claus.  Picking a favorite is hard. I might say something different tomorrow, but today, it’s Santa.  The character has been portrayed so many different ways, but they’re all essentially the same.  I will watch any movie where Santa is the main character. Even if the movie’s terrible, I know I’m going to walk away feeling good. I’m still a kid at heart. 

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

I think I’d like to talk to someone from the future.  Just an average, ordinary citizen, from, maybe 1,000 years down the line.  I’d like to ask them if humanity finally got it together and started taking care of each other.


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