ScriptXpert Contest: Jeff York Wins the Jackpot with The Love Seat

Jeff York has only been writing screenplays since 2008, but has already had some striking success. He has three scripts repped by CAA and he’s managed by Christine Lynne of Goddess Productions in Hollywood. His first script, Incurable, a character-driven horror tale, received ScriptXpert’s only recommend rating in 2008. Incurable went on to be a finalist in the 2009 Eerie Horror Film Festival and the British Horror Film Festival that same year. His fourth script, a romantic comedy called The Love Seat, received another recommend rating from ScriptXpert and placed in the semifinals of the 2011 Big Break screenwriting contest. His latest script, a thriller called Fiend, was named one of Script Pipeline’s finalists in this year’s competition, out of over 3500 entries. Now, Jeff adds a ScriptXpert Jackpot win to his resume, for The Love Seat.

SCRIPT: This isn’t your first experience gaining the attention of a ScriptXpert reader. What made you come back to ScriptXpert?
JEFF YORK: ScriptXpert’s readers are really smart and passionate. They give very thorough and detailed feedback and they want you to succeed. They’re tough where it’s needed and complimentary when it’s deserved, but always caring and constructive.

SCRIPT: What’s your spec about?
JEFF YORK: The Love Seat is a romantic comedy about Kevin and Shelly Decker, a WASP married couple in their 40s whose marriage is on the rocks. They go to see married marriage counselors, the Kantors, an adorable Jewish couple in their 60s who keep their flame alive by continually dating each other so their relationship never grows stagnant. Thus, the Deckers follow the Kantors’ example and it leads to a lot of set pieces with the Decker dates, running the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous.

SCRIPT: What was your inspiration for the script?
JEFF YORK:
I think that the romantic comedy is the worst genre in movies. They’re usually so trite, so treacly, with the same tinkly piano music and forced pratfalls. And I loathe that most of them are about people starting out. It’s easy to fall in love. It’s hard to stay in love. So that’s where mine starts, with an old married couple that’s growing apart and in need of a new regimen. And it’s something I’d never seen in a rom-com before. Plus, if you’ve ever been in marriage counseling you know that it’s just ripe for comedy, believe me!

SCRIPT: What is your day job?
JEFF YORK:
I used to be a creative director at an ad agency, but decided to transition into writing screenplays two years ago after success with ScriptXpert and various script contests. I still freelance in the ad world, but my focus is more on screenwriting. I also write my own movie blog called The Establishing Shot each week and I’m a contributing movie critic for the Chicago Examiner online, too.

SCRIPT: What’s the most useful part of Final Draft’s ScriptXpert service?
JEFF YORK:
I love that you get lengthy and detailed notes, usually around 8-10 pages’ worth, telling you what they liked and disliked. And the areas that need work get specific suggestions and direction. It’s not just criticism but true guidance. I also like the half hour conversation with your reader you can buy, too. The ScriptXperts that I’ve talked to were superb. I liked them as critics and teachers, and they’re fun people to talk shop with as well.

SCRIPT: What did you learn most from the ScriptXpert reader’s notes?
JEFF YORK:
I learned that some of my writing is too subtle. And that I hold back when I need to push the dramatics more. I’ve also been told by my ScriptXpert readers that I consistently write dialogue well, which is very encouraging, because dialogue can be very tricky.

SCRIPT: Why do you think coverage is important for a writer?
JEFF YORK:
It’s vital to get a real “forest for the trees” perspective that you can only get from an objective, qualified opinion. No matter how much you think you’ve improved it with rewrite after rewrite, you need professionals to read your work and help you perfect things. ScriptXpert helped me get my scripts into great shape which enabled me get a manager and interest from CAA. I doubt that I would have gotten this far with only my mom and friends reading my stuff.

SCRIPT: What are you going to do with the $1000?
JEFF YORK: I’ll go see a lot of movies, though not as many rom-com’s.

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