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Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist Questionnaire (Glenn Lissner)

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

Glenn Lissner – Hollywood, Florida – Raleigh, NC. Collecting music esp. music from the 80s

Where did you come up with the concept that just won the screenplay contest? How long did it take you to develop it into the screenplay it is now?

Often an idea will just hit me and if it feels right and inspires me. I start jotting down preliminary scenes. In this case, I deliberately wanted to write a few horror shorts. After completing the first script outline, I moved to character development. I wondered what it would be like for a character to experience signs of death/decay in what they think is their waking life. This eventually morphed into the story of a woman sexually harassed at work. She finds the courage to stand up against her harasser but he succeeds in killing her. Her physical self is dead, but her spirit self struggles to understand her sudden death. Once she does, the remaining journey revolves around how she exits from her dead, decaying body and her spirit self can exact revenge for what happened to her.

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

Probably a few months of writing, getting feedback, writing some more, getting more feedback, etc. The difficult thing is knowing if changing something is making the screenplay better or worse.

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

I imagine most writers are like me in that they have loved films since childhood. However, I enjoy immersing myself in the experience but didn’t think of writing for many years. The first thought about it came 25 years ago, but it took me years to complete my first screenplay structure. I shifted from stand-up comedy to screenplay writing because stand-up comedy was not something that I was happy with. Finally, I started with the creative process for films and made writing a way to express my desire/creativity.

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

I honestly am not consciously aware of any particular influences. Horror films having James Wan and Mike Flannagan are just simply amazing. To me, they are the modern-day horror masters.

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

I love many films, but a couple of examples that just blew me away are Memento and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I just think those films bring something unique to the cinematic experience and left me pondering them long after I finished viewing.

The first seasons of Dexter are also really inspiring. To think, the writers created a character who is a serial killer that was likable and that I was rooting for was brilliant.

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

 I don’t know that I have one particular favorite moment, but I really like when a movie has been good throughout and has built to a climactic scene with great payoff. The scene in Forgiven where Clint Eastwood enters and basically shoots everyone. There was so much story and character development that it had a resounding payoff. In Shawshank Redemption, once it is revealed how Andy Dufresne escaped. Again, lots of stories, character development, build up and amazing payoff that felt almost magical.

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

This is gonna be from left field, but I love Bill Murray as Tripper in Meatballs. When I was eleven years old, I saw it and thought that Tripper was the absolute coolest person on the planet. The character is incredibly funny and has a heart as he bonds with one of the campers played by Christopher Makepeace and helps him come into his own. It’s something a kid like me would have loved. Granted, it’s not a great film and some scenes haven’t aged well, but Tripper is still my hero.

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

 I’m going to stick with Bill Murray as he has had an incredible career doing both comedy and drama. In particular, I would want to know how much he improvised especially in his earlier comedies like Meatballs, Stripes, Ghost Busters, Tootsie, etc. I would want to know what it was like for him to just be present at the moment and allow himself to come up with some of the greatest comedy lines/scenes in film history. I would also convince him that his character Tripper in Meatballs is underappreciated.