Welcome to the first edition of SIX OF THE BEST, the semi regular part of BRWC where we fire six questions at lovely people. First up is writer Kristi Barnett.
Kristi has been professionally writing genre screenplays since 2009 and has completed three spec features. She was also shortlisted and mentored in the prestigious Red Planet Prize. Kristi is also responsible for the first ever movie rolled out over Twitter, a horror called Hurst (aka@KarenBarley) for which she received significant publicity.
Hello Kristi. What you up to today?
Hello… is that first question real? Well here goes, I shall be monkeying about for a shopping channel for my peanuts (really small peanuts) but in my breaks I shall be writing more of a rewrite I’ve been signed on to do and also continuing with my own horror. If I can complete these in the next 2 months that will be five feature specs that I’ve written! Quite pleased with that.
What films/people have influenced your work?
I’ve always loved horror, sci- fi and fantasy with a good dose of action thrown in for good measure. I don’t remember going to see family type movies when I was a small child. My parents would take me to see films like Clash Of The Titans (that Medusa scared the poop out of me), Raiders Of The Lost Ark, (their faces melting at the end scared the poop out of me), Empires Strikes Back, (The Emperor scared a poop out of me. Just a little one mind you). Then there were fantasies like Labyrinth, The Neverending Story (wolf thing scared a little pellet out), and E.T. which made me cry for the first time in a cinema. So I’ve always loved big movies with big stories and effects. Combine that with my family’s love for horror and I ended up watching a few things I probably shouldn’t have at such a tender age, like The Exorcist (made me think if I have thoughts of the devil he will possess me), Nightmare on Elm Street, (made me think if I sleep I’ll die), Poltergeist, (made me think if there’s a tree outside it will get me). And then there was Stephen King.
Once I’d graduated from compulsory school books, like Who’s Got My Big Toe and Things That Go Bump In The Night… I picked up my first fiction book and it was by Mr. King. From between the ages of 10 and 20 years I tried to read as many of his books as I could. There’s a reason why a lot of his stories are turned into film… because he’s a master storyteller with a scary, disturbed and surreal imagination. I would love to be able to write screenplays with his kind of imagination. In terms of film, well I looked at my DVD collection recently and realised there’s a lot of Spielberg, a lot of Cameron and quite a few Shyamalan’s in there. I think M.Night Shyamalan is a wonderful storyteller with a vivid imagination. This may be a controversial comment but he’s kind of like Stephen King if King made movies.
(I just realised…those kids books I mentioned made me produce a few poops too).
What are you working on now?
As mentioned I’m trying to write two things at the same time; one is a rewrite of a horror for a production company. I can’t say more than that at the moment; other than the original story is quite compelling and I hope to help make it more so. I’m also writing a script for myself based on another horror I’ve already written… it’s kind of a sequel to something that hasn’t been made yet. It’s a horror and I’m excited in developing the story for myself. I also have a short that’s in the very early stages of pre production with a wonderful team of people hoping to get it made; I’m just sitting back and wishing them luck with that one. They’re the same producers who have asked for the rewrite. So it’s all good connections and networking that have helped here.
How hard is it to get a film made in the UK?
How hard is it to get a film made in the U.K? Wow… so consider the statistic that gets bandied about to screenwriters: 98% of all screenplays ever written never get made. That’s anywhere in the world. In the U.K it’s no different. I think if you have a story that will put bums in seats and you meet the right people who know how to get the money to help put those bums in seats; then getting a film made in the U.K is just as easy as anywhere else. But many people in the U.K don’t want to take chances with a new writer who has no credits. So in that respect it’s quite hard. It’s all about story and connections and those connections come to you via lots and lots of networking. It’s about picking up on the off the cuff comments; you know the ones: “I know someone who’s looking for a short.” Or, “I have a friend who knows a friend who might be able to give feedback….”
You take notice of all of them, and eventually one of those comments will lead you to people who really will be in a position to like your story whether you’re in the U.K or not. But it really is all about the story. I think genre writing in the U.K is sort of looked down on. But be assured, there are producers who have good connections who will make that big genre as long as it is a good script with saleable potential.
Any films you have seen that have left a lasting impression on you?
Hmmm. They’re all very obvious ones just because they’re some of my favourites; like Aliens, Temple of Doom, E.T, Jaws, Terminator; more recently I’ve been struck by the story and performances in movies like The Road, Melancholia, We Need To talk About Kevin, and the unusual story in The Skin I Live In. They’re all a bit depressing really aren’t they? What’s that saying?! But they’re all a little off; a little surreal. I like that strangeness in the stories; they tend to resonate with me and I hope to write something like that one day.
Anything you want to get off your chest right now?
Anything I want to get off my chest? This bra…it’s sticking in me.
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