Victoria has written shorts, television pilots, and has recently finished her first feature-length script. Her scripts have advanced into later rounds in various competitions and programs including Atlanta Film Festival, Austin Film Festival, ScreenCraft, ITV Fest, the Outfest Screenwriting Lab, and winning the Berkshire Film and Media Short Screenplay Competition. In 2019, she was proud to have been selected as the NewEnglandFilm.com Fellow at the Stowe Story Lab’s Narrative Lab.
WHAT WAS THE SCRIPT THAT WON YOU A SPOT ON THE ISA TOP 25 WRITERS TO WATCH AND WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
My script that caught the attention of the ISA is a one-hour sci-fi television pilot called Out of F*cking Time. It’s about the life and (fictional) adventures of Rosemary Kennedy. After undergoing a lobotomy, Rosemary becomes displaced in time and finds herself recruited by a mysterious organization, known as the Time Corps, to help fix history-altering events.
WHAT INSPIRED YOUR STORY AND WHY DO YOU THINK IT RESONATED WITH THE JUDGES?
From the moment I learned about Rosemary Kennedy‘s life, I was shocked and angry. By all accounts, she had her whole life ahead of her, but struggled with what we’d now consider learning disabilities and depression. In a family of such political importance as the Kennedys, I suppose they were desperate to try fit Rosemary into the mold they envisioned for her and had her undergo a lobotomy at the age of twenty-three. The effects were devastating, leaving her unable to walk and speak.
How many women have suffered throughout history because they had no control over their lives? No power. The story of Rosemary’s life always stuck with me because of this, and I knew I wanted to one day craft a fictional vehicle for her to experience life and fantastical adventures. I wanted to write something where she’d get to be the hero of her own story.
I think Out of F*cking Time resonated with the judges because I didn’t hold anything back. I created the most out there sci-fi story I could and having the lead be a woman who was so historically wronged getting her time to shine is really exciting to see, especially in today’s era.
WHAT ARE YOU EXPLORING THEMATICALLY IN YOUR SCREENPLAY?
Since my show is sci-fi and “time travel-y” I explore a lot of things in relation to time. So, I look at how society treats differently-abled people throughout time, and what it’s like to be a woman in different periods of time. I also explore a major theme common in a lot of my work, this idea that at the end of the day the biggest challenge a hero faces is overcoming what’s going on inside of them.
WHAT ASPECTS OF YOUR LIFE EXPERIENCE FOUND THEIR WAY INTO THE STORY?
Out of F*cking Time was written to a playlist composed of songs by riot grrrl bands. It’s imbued with the angry feelings of being written off, mistreated, or handled because you’re a woman. It’s definitely got this kind of feminine rage inspiration going on. Rosemary is angry about everything that’s happened to her and things that continue to happen to her that are out of her control. I wrote Rosemary angry because I’m angry, I think every woman is.
HOW DID YOU APPROACH THE WRITING PROCESS?
I always knew that I wanted Rosemary to be a time-traveling hero, so from there it was a lot of figuring out and developing what that world looks like, and what’s the story behind it.
I started by researching Rosemary Kennedy’s life, as well as the Kennedy family in general. Then came a point where I had to stop my researching and work on crafting the story for the pilot, as well as understanding where season 1 and on is going. So, I did a lot of pre-writing, figuring, and imagining before I sat down and wrote the pilot script.
WHAT FEEDBACK DID YOU GET DURING DEVELOPMENT AND HOW DID IT CONTOUR SUBSEQUENT ITERATIONS OF YOUR STORY?
After my first draft, I got a particularly great piece of feedback suggesting that I read through the script and question if it felt like Rosemary’s character rang true to a young woman in the 1940s and making adjustments to points where she felt too modern.
I was also advised to consider how much I reveal to an audience in regards to aspects of plot and how things work in the show. Being a sci-fi show there’s a need to give a lot of exposition and explain the rules of the world, and I was advised to pull back on that, and consider shows like Lost and Twin Peaks that dolled information out more stringently.
WHAT PERSONAL QUALITIES DO SUCCESSFUL SCREENWRITERS NEED TO MAKE IT?
Perseverance is definitely one of the biggest qualities. Nothing happens instantly in this business. Everything takes time. You really have to understand that and be able to buckle down, continue to write, put your stuff out there, and just hang in for the long haul.
You also need to be able to talk about your work passionately. How will anyone else care about your script if you pitch it like you don’t care? Figuring out how to communicate your passion is key.
WHAT MISCONCEPTIONS HAVE YOU DISCOVERED ABOUT ESTABLISHING A SCREENWRITING CAREER?
The biggest misconception that I discovered starting out was that I’d just be able to write a screenplay that I think is great and suddenly opportunities would fall into my lap. When I was first getting started, I underestimated how much hustling I’d have to do to get my scripts read by the right people, make connections, and from there, find helpful opportunities.
OTHER THAN WRITING, HOW DO YOU TRAIN AND IMPROVE YOUR WRITING CRAFT?
Reading scripts of works I admire is a big thing I like to do to improve my own writing. I also like to stay on top of what’s current and popular in television and film. Most of all I try to remember that there’s life outside of the film and television industry and I like to gain new life experiences. Living life is ultimately what determines your writing, so I like to try to do that and get out of my own head.
DO YOU HAVE ANY MENTORS, HEROES OR HEROINES?
My screenwriting heroines are Sera Gamble and Shonda Rhimes. I’m very interested in television writing and having watched these two women’s careers grow over the years has been incredibly inspiring. With Sera, it’s been exciting to see a woman writer work in genre TV and rise up to showrunner, and then again her impressive new deal developing and creating content with Universal Content Productions. As a woman of color, it’s encouraging to see Shonda’s success creating hit show after hit show, her impact on the television landscape is undeniable. Both of their careers are sensational, and they have shown me that the only limit for a woman in screenwriting is your own imagination.
WHAT INSPIRES YOUR SCREENWRITING?
I want to write TV shows and films that focus on characters audiences aren’t used to seeing as leading men and women. I want to take these marginalized characters and give them the opportunity to be heroes in their own stories.
I’m also greatly inspired by the past, particularly people and stories history has seemed to have largely forgotten. I like to adapt those stories in a way we can relate to in the present day.
I’m also always looking to take big swings and risks in my writing. I find it exciting to try to write weird/out there/ genre-pushing things that I feel we haven’t necessarily seen before.
WHAT IS THE CURRENT STATUS OF YOUR PROJECT?
Out of F*cking Time is the script that allowed me to be selected as a fellow for the ISA’s Fast Track Season X. It was also a second-rounder in the Austin Film Festival. Currently, it’s available with no attachments.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR SCREENWRITERS WANTING TO MAKE NEXT YEAR’S ISA TOP 25 LIST?
Continue to write, and don’t be afraid to put your work out there! Enter competitions and submit yourself for fellowship opportunities. Keep working away and hang in there! You never know when you’ll find the right opportunity or connection that can make things happen for you.
WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT FEW PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT YOU?
I have a fear of dinosaurs that stems from the trauma of seeing Jurassic Park in a dilapidated movie theatre during a thunderstorm at the age of two.