I just saw the Daily Breeze’s coverage of aspiring screenwriter Scott Simonsen’s selection by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for a Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting. As Scott is a Hermosa Beach resident, and this is to some degree a South Bay blog, I wanted to congratulate him and wish him well on what will hopefully be a satisfying career.
The award was actually announced in November, so the Breeze is a little late. (They’ve been distracted.) According to the story:
Simonsen’s “Tides of Summer” tells the story of a student who gets accepted at Yale, then visits his grandfather, an ill, grouchy old man who lives on a sailboat. The teen becomes more accepting of the area his grandfather lives in and starts to change his perspective on life.
The story was inspired by Simonsen’s work tutoring high-school students at the Blue Train Tutoring Company in Hermosa Beach.
“In this company, I found, I spend so much time with these kids (who are) trying to get into college. I kind of had to call (expletive) on them a little bit and say, ‘There’s more to life than getting into college,’ ” he said.
Simonsen said that though he, of course, would like to sell his script, the market for dramas is small.
“Everyone wants thrillers or broad comedies like ‘The Wedding Crashers,’ ” Simonsen said. “So small dramas aren’t selling anymore — so whether it sells or not, it’s a huge deal to have gotten where I have gotten.”
As part of being in the fellowship program, Simonsen has to complete another script by November. He’s already begun work on the project, and although he would not share details about the story line, he did say it involves teenagers and the high-school world.
Actually, if you look at the top grossing movies of last week, it’s obvious there is both an audience for drama and a market for it. “The Pursuit of Happyness,” “The Good Shepard,” “Rocky Balboa,” and “We Are Marshall” are all dramas, and “Dreamgirls” and “The Holiday” have dramatic elements, although they would be categorized as a musical and a romantic comedy respectively. Admittedly, the sample is skewed: This is Oscar-bait season. Admittedly, three of the four dramas are based on non-fiction sources, and the fourth is a sequel to several sequels. But I think those caveats aren’t meaningful. You can’t argue that the public went to these movies just to learn a bunch of facts. They wanted to be touched in a way only a dramatic tale can affect you.
Don’t forget what screenwriter William Goldman said: “Nobody knows anything.” The thing you really want to write? That might be the hit.