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Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist Questionnaire (Michael Mizerany)

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

My name is Michael Mizerany and I was born in St. Louis. Currently living in San Diego, CA. One of my hobbies – I’m a gym rat so I go every day.

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 pilot of ZADDY is based on my own life experiences being an older gay man dating younger gay men. Moreover, the current ZADDY script outline took about three months to complete.

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

ZADDY is based on a play I wrote called WALLY & HIS LOVER BOYS. During COVID, I had lots of spare time, so I took some screenwriting classes. Upon finishing the first draft, I went for some professional input. Through Stage 32, I found a development rep who guided me through the TV screenplay ins and out. It is certainly different than writing a play. So after a few more meetings with the rep, and several more revisions and readings with actor friends of mine, I arrived at this finished draft. Luckily, a director in LA took interest in the film script format, and also pitch reel for ZADDY will be filmed this August.

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

I never stay in one place too long. It gets boring. My life in the arts has ranged from choreographer to director to playwright. With Covid around the corner, I started looking for new challenges. Since I love TV, I decided to give screenwriting a shot with my first teleplay ZADDY.

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

Susan Harris. I have been, and still am, an avid viewer of Soap, Golden Girls, and Benson. What I love most about her style is that she can write a hilarious scene and then, in an instant, transition the scene into something heartfelt and poignant. Her characters may behave outlandishly, but they are rooted in reality and are people you care about and want to root for.

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

Knot’s Landing. I was always an avid nighttime soap watcher but my favorite was Knots. I loved the characters. They seemed more real to me than other soaps and it was the best written of the genre.

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

One of my favorites moments is from Ordinary People (my favorite movie) between Beth and Conrad. When her son Conrad is on the patio, Beth brings him his coat and sits down with him. He tries to talk to her about his feelings, but Beth, trying to avoid the conversation, prattles on about the neighbor’s yappy dog. After a moment, Conrad barks like a dog. Almost saying, “If I bark like a dog, will you listen to me.”

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

Joanna Kramer in Kramer vs Kramer. You should hate her for leaving her son but through the writing and Meryl Streep’s performance, you can see why she did it and forgive her, which her husband Ted eventually does.

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

Easy one, Susan Harris. The big question would be about her process – how does she develop characters, situations, and story arcs.