Ken Lemm Interview

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 26th, 20132013-02-26T15:30:26Zl, F jS, Y at 7:30 am2013-02-26T15:30:26Zg:i a

It seems every time I check my Facebook page I see yet another status update by screenwriter Ken Lemm and it’s always good news about his writing! Curious, I decided to chat with Ken to find out just what is in the water he drinks, because I gotta tell ya, this is one productive and successful screenwriter. So for your consideration, here is a Just Effing Entertain Me interview with Ken Lemm, screenwriter extraordinaire. I think you will be inspired.


Julie:
So Ken Lemm – ma matsav? (That means what is your situation in Hebrew). It seems every time I go on Facebook I see yet another post that yet another of your scripts placed in a competition or was sold or is being produced. You’re the most active screenwriter that nobody has ever heard of that I’ve ever heard of! So can I ask you a few questions?

Ken:
Of course! Thanks for the compliment (I think). I hope one day I can change the “nobody has ever heard of” part, though.

Julie:
First of all, what is your quick-o bio: who ARE you? Where do you live? How long have you been writing?

Ken:
I moved to Atlanta, Georgia after graduating from Virginia Tech as a Landscape Architect. Growing up, my Dad was in the Air Force, so we moved around a lot. In fifth grade, I lived in three countries and two states. Georgia feels like home.

I’ve been writing for about three years.

At first, I wanted to write for television, so I wrote a spec for a sitcom. I placed in a couple of screenwriting contests when I started, and I was hooked. Early on, I stumbled onto what I now know were some great query results with a reality show proposal “America’s Favorite House.” Unfortunately, I wasn’t prepared for the follow-through and didn’t make the most of the opportunity. I vowed to read every book and article I could find and not make that mistake a second time. Looking for screenwriting articles is how I first found your blog and contest.

Julie:
Do you have a lot of FB friends? Has Facebook been any part in your success?

Ken:
I’m a Facebook junkie. Atlanta can feel pretty remote from the film industry in LA, though things are changing. Facebook is a great way to share writing interests with writers everywhere. I’ll never be that guy that has to start a new page because I have too many friends on the first one, but I’ve met a lot of great people on FB and can’t imagine not having that outlet. I use it primarily for screenwriting, but every so often can’t resist posting pictures of the dogs!

Facebook has been a huge part of my screenwriting success. I’m pretty shy, tend to stand in the back and observe. Facebook makes it easy to strike up friendships with other folks with shared interests. I’ve made great contacts, learned about valuable opportunities, been inspired by other writers, and found support when self- doubt raised its head! I honestly don’t thing I’d be where I am today without it.

Julie:
Here’s the $64,000 question: How many scripts have you written?

Ken:
I have eight features written, and probably just as many in various stages of completion, about a half- dozen shorts and three television pilots.

Julie:
How long does it take you to write one? Do you write serials? Some of your FB artwork for your scripts makes it appear as if your scripts are shorts or serials. Am I mistaken?

Ken:
How long it takes is a direct result of how disciplined I’ve been with myself. If I’ve really planned out my outline, beat sheet, or scene summaries, it flows very quickly. The times when I’m so excited about an idea that I dive right in without any planning, those are the times when it drags out. I’m not good at the “vomit” pass idea- get it all down and then fix it. My partner will tell you I’m way too hard on myself for that. I am constantly polishing as I go along.

I bounce back and forth between features and shorts. Shorts are new for me, but I have to admit that I love the “hit and run” feeling of writing a short. Almost like hearing a snippet of a conversation in line at the grocery store and imagining what came before and happens after.

The artwork that I share on FB keeps me in my story. Whenever I’m stuck, I imagine the movie poster and never end up staring at a blank screen. Searching for the perfect photo or tag line usually helps me bust through a block I’m facing.

Julie:
Who is buying or optioning your scripts? Is this in the independent world? Are you the next Bill Martel – who has made a living for years below the mainstream radar?

Ken:
Actually, flying below the mainstream radar is more my style. But, I’ve realized to make this screenwriting dream come true, I need to be proactive with marketing and recognition.

So far, my success has been in the independent world, and it’s all over the board. Seeing my short film produced as part of the 50 Kisses contest and working with a director from Istanbul was a great experience. I’m currently working on a thriller for a Canadian producer and a faith-based film for a US producer and distributor.

Julie:
Where do you like to write?

Ken:
Whenever I can, I escape to the North Carolina mountains. For me, the best atmosphere for writing includes snow flurries outside, a glass of wine, dogs asleep by the fire, a Chris Botti Pandora mix in the background.

Julie:
What are your favorite movies?

Ken:
I’d love to be deep and learned with this answer, but the truth is, I‘m the ideal movie viewer. Whatever it is I’m watching, I fall hook, line, and sinker and lose all sense that I’m watching actors and special effects.

Of course, I admire all the ones we all study (Thelma & Louise, As Good As It Gets, Chinatown) but I’m mostly drawn to tiny character studies, like The Station Agent, The Visitor, and A Better Life. And cheesy romantic comedies when I’m on the treadmill!

Julie:
Caffeine: friend or foe?

Ken:
Devotee.

Julie:
Do you have TIME for a day job?

Ken:
It’s sleep I don’t have time for! With my partner, I own a landscape architecture firm specializing in high- end residential design. The silver lining to the downturn in the housing market is that I’m able to chisel out a few more hours of writing each week. I’m lucky my day job allows me to be creative, just in a different way.

Julie:
If, after you die, you could come back as a person, place or thing, what would it be?

Ken:
Everyone jokes they want to come back as one of my dogs. I have two incredible rescue dogs that are always by my side. My wonderful boxer, Coco, passed away last November after two rounds of chemo, and I was heartbroken. That experience inspired the short “These Foolish Things” which I just sold and will film in April. No one will ever know that was the spark behind the idea of the script. Except now, your readers…

I’d want to come back as a screenwriter and start writing years earlier than I did this time around. Or a catamaran sailor in St. Barth’s. That would be okay, too.

Julie:
You’re a big fan of Just Effing, right? Amiright?

Ken:
Absolutely! The screenwriting advice on the blog is always a terrific reminder and inspiration. I especially love the screenwriting contest. Your connections and exposure for writers is so alluring. I haven’t tried the three word/ one page contest yet, but that’s next!

In 2011, I was a Quarterfinalist in the Just Effing Entertain Me contest with my Action/ Drama DRUM. I was excited about the possibilities of winning your contest. And among the prizes, I had the tattoo all planned out!

Like what you’ve read? Sign up for script notes and feedback from Julie today. Fast. Detailed. Thorough. Not sure? Read Julie’s rave reviews.


3 Comments

  • Jim Schweitzer says:

    What a fantastic interview with a fantastic guy!

    I got to know Ken when a script I had co-written was neck-and-neck with one of his in a contest awhile back. It was the first runoff for my partner and I, so we had no idea what to expect. We CERTAINLY didn’t expect that someone we were technically in competition with would soon turn out to be a mentor, advocate, never-ending font of wisdom, and friend. But that’s exactly what Ken is.

    Ken’s advice, goodwill and opportunity tips are some of my favorite emails and Facebook messages to get! He not only cares about his own projects and (numerous) successes, but he remembers and cares about those of his fellow up-and-coming scribes. He is an absolute credit to his craft, and an invaluable asset to the screenwriting community as a whole. I’m so happy that he’s enjoying such an exponentially-growing snowball of acclaim! It simply couldn’t happen to a kinder, or more deserving person.

    All the kudos, Ken…And nothing but continued heights in the future.

    -Jim.

  • Mary says:

    A truly talented writer with the ability to make the audience laugh and cry. This interview was a great “get” for Julie and the exposure for Ken can only be a wonderful thing.
    Great and wonderful worlds await this gifted man.
    MK-O

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

Leave a Comment


Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree