Screenwriter Profile: Stephen M. Hunt

2012 Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition Grand Prize Winner

Stephen Hunt lo-resStephen M. Hunt won the Grand Prize Award of the 2012 Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition. Stephen, an accomplished British playwright, lives in the south of France. His 1999 radical adaptation of The Merchant of Venice opened to rave reviews. His three year collaboration with Hildegard Neil (Royal Shakespeare Company) resulted in an award winning and highly celebrated six month regional tour of his stage play Impossible Steps.

Read what Stephen had to say about winning Fresh Voices and what's been happening since his win!!

FV:      Did you go to school to study film or screenwriting? Do you have any favorite screenwriting books?

SMH:   No, not a formal school.I prefer to watch/re-watch a lot of films, usually one every day. That's my training. I’ve also been submitting work to variious script analysis firms for about three years.

FV:      What’s your mentality/ philosophy as a writer?        

SMH:   The technicalities of screenwriting must be learnt, yet all that counts for nothing if a writer cannot come up with a good story and tell it well. I don’t think creative flare can be taught.    

FV:      What’s your writing process? Do you outline, write treatments first?  If so do you deviate or stick strictly to the outline?

SMH:   I always begin with a core, anchoring, scenario – that’s the “boulder” that like Sisyphus, I have to somehow roll up a cruel slope that I’m often stuck on if not back at the bottom of. 

FV:      How many hours do you spend writing?

SMH:   On average four hours a day. I don’t have a fixed regime, I write when I feel like it, which is quite often. I’ve never had writer’s block, although I do give myself breaks. I left England to live in South West France  – “idyllic” barely describes it.

FV:     What was your experience like with Fresh Voices – Communication, Quality of Feedback, Prizes? 

SMH:   The prizes are great, the communication excellent and the feedback is inspirational. I received several sets of analysis notes from the Fresh Voices Development service before submitting to the competition. They were vital in helping me improve Precious Vengeaceso that it was finally accepted by a couple of key gate-keepers (more on this below).

FV:      What was it like winning Fresh Voices?

SMH:   Mind blowing! Receiving the call to say I’d won left me giddy and amazed.  Fresh Voices is one of the major and very well-respected competitions -  I entered it with modest hopes and expectations. 

FV:      What has happened in the weeks since winning?

SMH:   Loads! Immediately after I was declared winner, the Fresh Voices promotion machine swung into blistering action. Soon, (Competition Chairman) Joel Mendoza and I were taking stock over a six hour business lunch in Paris. The biggest break was the strong interest shown in Precious Vengeance by Solar Pictures – they’ve in fact budgeted the script and scouted European locations. Next, Joel/ Fresh Voices was bringing other interested parties together including a potential financier in Cannes who invited Joel aboard his yacht. At the end of June, Joel and I will travel to England to negotiate an option agreement for Precious Vengeance between the interested parties and structuring the film as a British, Romanian and US co-production.

Fresh Voices has the resources, contacts and experience to truly get to work for its winners. In addition, on the strength of my Grand Prize Win, a veteran writer for the BBC proposed I co-write a thirteen episode TV series with him. It’s about a senior English  policeman who cracks ingenious murders with even better ingenious solutions. We’ve written ten outlines so far and will soon have a first draft of the opening episode. We’ll be relying on Fresh Voices to (a) assist us in writing a perfect series and (b) promoting it .

FV:      What’s next? Are you writing a new script?

SMH:   I’m currently developing a couple of new scripts and the input from Joel and Fresh Voices regarding story and the marketing/ commerciality aspects of the project has been invaluable.  

My work-in-progress is Red Earth, White Sea. A thriller, which at its core contrasts the fortunes of modern day Native Americans. Amerigun Falls is another project about an unlikely independent presidential election winner; he’s captivated America with an extraordinary vision of a better tomorrow.

FV:      What advice do you have for aspiring screenplay writers?

SMH:   Creative writing essentially involves collaboration so team up with a high quality development firm, as I did.