Creative Screenwriting Magazine spoke with screenwriter Marc Bloom who made it on the coveted Young & Hungry list.
Marc Bloom attended the University of Cape Town. After graduating, Marc was offered a generous scholarship to enroll in Vancouver Film School’s exclusive screenwriting program. Marc’s script, Runt, was a 2017 Bloodlist select and is now set up with The Traveling Picture Show Company, with Jonathan Desbiens attached to direct. Shooting is scheduled to start in 2019. His script, Pray For The Light has recently been set up with Lost City and Pioneer Pictures. Marc’s film Shaft 6 also finished shooting in South Africa and is due for release sometime in 2019.
How young and how hungry do you need to be to win a place on the 2018 Young & Hungry list?
I think age is just a number. People have peaks and troughs in their screenwriting careers. Some begin later than others. This list in my opinion, is not about age, but rather, it’s about screenwriters who are starting to find their voice and make the necessary impact in the industry, regardless of their age. What we all share as writers on this list, is hunger. The need to keep writing and pushing ourselves creatively. To keep striving, hustling, taking meetings and getting read. Hunger is the balance between being prolific but, at the same time, never dropping your standards.
Describe your unique personal and professional background and the specific project(s) that attracted industry interest?
I was born in South Africa and have lived in both Cape Town and Johannesburg. South Africa is a unique place, a place like no other, and the experiences I’ve had, good and bad, have definitely shaped my voice and given me a certain roughness around the edges! I’ve also lived and studied in America and Canada and currently live in the Netherlands. So I’m pretty well traveled! RUNT was really the first script that got me noticed as it was a Bloodlist select, giving me invaluable exposure. It was through RUNT that I met my manager, Jon Hersh, who has had an incredible influence on my career trajectory. After RUNT, Jon and I developed Pray For The Light, which got me a bunch of meetings and landed me an agent. It opened doors, that until a few years ago, had remained closed to me.
What personal qualities do screenwriters need to make it?
Determination. Grit. Hustle. The ability to keep taking punches and getting back up to fight again. You have to be willing to put yourself out there, even if that means having to fail. You have to be receptive to criticism and have enough humility to accept that it’s about the best idea that wins. Most importantly, you have to be absolutely dedicated to your writing craft. You have to write. You have to constantly be generating ideas. You have to make sacrifices and surround yourself with kind of people who understand you and give you the space you need to flourish.
Why did you decide to become a screenwriter above all other careers?
I watched a ton of movies growing up. My fondest memories are the ones spent at the video store, perusing the horror movie isles. Sneaking out movies I had no business ever watching at that age, and then paying for it with way too many sleepless nights. The two movies that absolutely changed my life, were IT (1990) and Nightmare on Elm Street Three. They elicited such a powerful reaction from me, that afterward, I was hooked. My dad and I would also watch the Magnificent Seven TV show together every Friday night, a memory I cherish. However, growing up in South Africa, I didn’t even know screenwriting was a career path. Only when I was in high school, did I learn people actually wrote all these movies I loved! From then on, I never wanted to do anything else but be a screenwriter.
How do you become agent/manager bait?
Reps want to work with people who are willing to put in the work and who are open and receptive to suggestions, as a key part of the relationship, especially with your manager, is development – getting notes and rewriting. It’s about working together with your manager and agent to make your script the best version of itself. I also think you have to be personable. Part of writing is taking meetings and being able to meet with executives and fellow creatives. It definitely counts in your favor if you can be accommodating to opinions and different personality types. First impressions really do count. I also think managers look for clients who can generate ideas and are also able to troubleshoot themselves out of story problems, and find solutions.
Where do you get your creative inspiration?
My inspiration can come from anywhere. I’m always reading different types of material, be it a newspaper, graphic novel or a book. I try to watch all genres of movies as well as movies from a variety of different countries. I love to watch the news, and in general, just expose myself to as much information as possible because you never know when that idea can pop into your head – and when it does – there’s no better feeling in the world.
How do you decide which ideas are worthy of pursuing?
I’m a screenwriter who loves great concepts. Concepts that when you pitch them to people, they can already see the movie. My first instinct is to always entertain people. I love taking concepts that people are familiar with and then putting my own spin on them. If I’m able to picture the world and see the movie in my head, then I know it’s something I can pursue. I also think it’s important to write the stuff you, yourself, would pay money to watch.
Do you have a writing brand in terms of interests you gravitate towards?
I love genre-driven material, especially horrors and thrillers. I look at a guy like Mike Flanagan, whose material is scary as hell, but has so much heart in it. I aim for all of my concepts to have heart and to be anchored by emotion. I hope that’s a common trait people will find when they read my work.
How do characterize the current state of the industry and opportunities for emerging screenwriters?
The great thing about our industry is that there is always opportunity. The film industry is one that notices talent and invests in it. People want great material! If you write a stellar script, you will be noticed. It’s up to you then, to use that opportunity in the best way you can.
How do you train and improve your writing craft?
Write. If it’s not on the page then it doesn’t exist. Read a lot of scripts.
What are the qualities of scripts you read that don’t get industry interest?
Look, this is just my opinion and learned through my own mistakes in my earlier scripts as well as from being a reader for a number of production companies. Firstly, stylistically some scripts simply don’t read well and can be off-putting. They’re a chore to read. The best scripts, no matter what genre, have a clear focus and direction. They have clarity in what they want to achieve and how they want to do it. They surprise you. They don’t make the obvious dramatic choices.
What advice do you have for screenwriters wanting to make next year’s Young & Hungry list?
Write, write and write. Never be content with what you’ve written. It can always be better, so always be open to notes and ideas. Make sure you put your best foot forward because sometimes you only get one shot. Remember, there will be a lot of nos but it only takes one yes to change everything.
What is something that few people know about you?
I’m a Jew who loves Christmas movies and I have a cat named Georgie.