Last week, screenwriter Patrick Aison sold his script, Wunderkind, to Paramount Pictures and J.J. Abrams (Mission Impossible 3, Super 8, Cloverfield, Star Trek).
Aison shares his inspiration and advice with Script:
1. Where did you get the idea for Wunderkind?
I wanted to write something about two different approaches to trying
to right a wrong: the dirty way and the clean way. And I wanted to
make the two work together toward the same goal. There's nothing as
raw and crazy as inter-family conflict so I made it a father and son
who don't get along.
2. What’s your writing process like? Describe how/where you get your
I lock myself in a room and try not to come out until the page count
has gone up (or down, if it's a later draft).
3. What do you do after you’re finished writing and it’s time to go
out with the script? Did you develop further with anyone?
I send it to a small group of people I trust and whose writing and/or
opinions I respect. Included in that group is the producing partner at
my management company, Chris Cowles, whose story notes are invaluable.
4. Where were you when you got the call that J.J. Abrams wanted to buy
Wunderkind. Explain how you felt?
I was at the playground with my kids and it felt fucking great of
course. I kept riding the mute button on my phone so my lawyer and
manager didn’t have to hear all the kids. At one point my one year-old
was crying in the swing and my manager heard him and said, “why are
you crying now, we haven’t told you about the money yet.”
5. What happens next for a writer whose script is
The Wunderkind deal was a sale and doesn't call for rewrites but I'd
be happy to do them if Bad Robot asks. I’ve had deals that have
rewrites built in and I don’t mind them because often the script gets
stronger. Obviously it’s better if the deal is structured to keep the
producers from making you do a million rewrites without getting paid
6. Are you working on any other projects?
I've got a revenge-thriller spec I just finished a rough draft of that
I need to polish up and my partner from Echo Station, Brad Kean, and I
are working on a kidnapping action script.
7. Is screenwriting your day job? If not, what is your day job?
My day job is writing and taking care of my kids, and I am running at
a pretty serious sleep deficit.
8. Where are you from? How did you get into screenwriting?
I was born and raised in New York City. I went to graduate school at
USC in the production program, but I decided to write my thesis rather
than drop $70 grand on a short and it’s been all downhill from there.
9. What's your advice to beginning screenwriters?
It’s great to be passionate about your work but don’t be precious;
writing is rewriting and you should probably be throwing out a ton of
what you write.