Writer's Lab is going to the big screen! Get to know our newest Writer's Lab instructor, screenwriter Sharon Y. Cobb in our Five Questions with Sharon Y. Cobb blog post below. Then, be a part of Writer’s Lab: Screenwriting 101 with Sharon on Sat., Oct. 17, 24, & 31, 10 a.m. - noon. Click here to register.
Library: How did you get started as a screenwriter?
Sharon Y. Cobb: I lived in Key West and was a fiber artist in the 80s. I met a neighbor who was a writer and I was inspired to begin writing. I started with short stories, but quickly moved to screenplays because films tell stories visually and that made an easy transition from my career as a visual artist. The locals called my neighbor Tom, but everyone else knew him as Tennessee Williams.
L: What is a common problem most new screenwriters make?
SYC: Assuming they'll sell the first script they write for a million-dollars! It's as much about who knows you as it is about how talented you are. It's a business of relationships. Understanding and learning how the filmmaking business works is as important as learning the craft of screenwriting.
L: What is your favorite Jacksonville film experience?
SYC: Having a feature film I wrote screened at the Jacksonville Film Festival in 2002. It was a film I wrote to be shot in Jacksonville, but a British director bought it and I rewrote it to be shot in England. It was called Lighthouse Hill and is available on DVD on Amazon. It was amazing to see it on the big screen at the San Marco Theatre with a standing-room-only crowd of friends and family. What a rush!!
L: Do you have a favorite screenwriter - someone's work you follow?
SYC: Terry Rossio was the first Hollywood screenwriter who read one of my scripts, probably in 1991. He thought it was a disaster, but he became an unofficial mentor to me. When I moved to LA in 1993, he took me to Disneyland where his film Aladdin was featured in the park as an attraction. Terry, and his writing partner Ted Elliot, went on to write films we all know and love: Shrek, The Mask of Zorro, Pirates of the Caribbean and many more.
L: What challenges do you feel woman, minority groups, etc. face in the screenwriting industry?
SYC: That's a big issue in Hollywood. When I moved to LA in 1993, only 7% of all films released that year were written by women. It was even worse for female directors. I think things are changing somewhat so we're seeing more woman writers and directors, as well as more diversity. That's a very good thing. One of the great reasons to work in Jacksonville is that I see no discrimination. Our filmmakers don't care about age or gender, they look at the script and writing experience. I love writing for our talented Jacksonville filmmakers.
If you are interested in learning more about screenwriting or if you'd like to watch one of Sharon’s movies, check out the activities below:
READ: How to Write a Movie in 21 Days by Viki King. The ultimate survival guide, How to Write a Movie in 21 Days takes the aspiring screenwriter the shortest distance from blank page to complete script.
WATCH: The Art of Screenwriting Series on Kanopy. The Art of Screenwriting Series first presented as part of the Writers Guild Foundations prestigious Words into Pictures event, each program features Hollywood’s top motion picture and television writers, discussing specific aspects of the art of writing for screen and the different approaches to their craft.
JUNE on hoopla. Sharon Y. Cobb co wrote the horror feature JUNE with director L.Gustavo Cooper. JUNE is the story of a 9-year-old orphan girl who shares her body with Aer, an ancient supernatural being set on destroying mankind.