Final Draft, Inc. Big Break™ Success Earns Representation

For over 10 years, Final Draft, Inc.’s Big Break™ screenwriting contest has been one of the most exciting events in Hollywood for up-and-coming writers. From a group of 2011 semifinalists and finalists emerged screenwriters Matthew Gayne, who wrote The Hobby (formerly titled The Refugees), and Paul Gavin, who wrote The Rebound. Gayne and Gavin recently signed with manager Michael Kuciak (Samurai MK) and, as of last Monday, their scripts went out to all the top producers and agencies in Hollywood.

Script sat down with the screenwriters to talk about their amazing experience from writing their scripts to placing in Big Break to getting representation.

Screenwriter Matthew Gayne

Screenwriter Matthew Gayne

SCRIPT: What is The Hobby about?

Matthew Gayne: The Hobby is the story of the Rosenberg family, who hides from the Nazis in the attic of the kindly Mr. Drukker. Unfortunately for the Rosenbergs, the year is 1992, and they are in fact the descendants of the original families, who have been kept in the dark as to the outcome of WWII by two generations of psychopaths. When young Adele discovers that the world outside is not what Drukker says it is, the carnage begins.

SCRIPT: What’s your process?

Matthew Gayne: Once I have an idea I feel is original enough to run with, I write a treatment to see if the story can be fit into a cinematic structure in a practical way.  If it can and still works creatively, I start hashing out scenes/sequences directly out of the treatment paragraphs. This script took about four months to write.

SCRIPT: Where did you get the idea?

Matthew Gayne: It started as a mental exercise — what stories can be told in a contained location? I would like to state the script was completed and registered at least 18 months before that Austrian fellow was discovered imprisoning a secret family in his basement. During the first circulation of the script, the most common complaint was that it was not believable.

SCRIPT: What’s your day job?

Matthew Gayne: I used to be a producer/line producer based out of Los Angeles. I am presently living in Copenhagen, teaching Physics and Chemistry at an international school. I have been writing for close to 20 years.

SCRIPT:  What was it like to find out you placed in Big Break?

Matthew Gayne: Prior to Big Break, the only contest that I felt worth entering was the Nicholl Fellowship. When The Hobby (under another name) made it though in the Nicholl to the semis, but fell short of the finals, I felt the script deserved another venue. When I received an email from Big Break, I decided to enter. Making the finals was very gratifying.

SCRIPT:  What was it like to sign with manager Michael Kuciak?

Matthew Gayne: As a former producer, it feels a little strange to be on the other side of the fence. Michael is a great guy with a keen insight on the current state of the market, and we have a good deal in common. So much so, that we often find ourselves lapsing into shop talk. I am very optimistic about the script’s prospects with Michael on board.

SCRIPT:  What’s next for you?

Matthew Gayne: I’ve promised Michael drafts of some of my older material. I’d like to examine the prospects of rewrites on a couple, with Michael’s guidance.

SCRIPT:  What’s your advice to other aspiring screenwriters?

Matthew Gayne: Read and write. Read scripts, how-to books (doesn’t matter which ones, find one that works for you), even subjects of general interest to you. The broader your knowledge base, the deeper and greater insight you will have for your writing. Then, write what moves you.

Screenwriter Paul Gavin

SCRIPT: What is The Rebound about?

Paul Gavin: Chris Fitzgerald splits from his marriage to Fiona, but when he meets someone new, it turns out his rebound is a friend of Fiona’s, hired by her to kill him. She does just that. A bullet to the head has left Chris with a choice. If he has the bullet removed, he’ll lose all memory, if he doesn’t, he’ll die in four days. He decides to procrastinate on the decision and spends his final four days pursuing a relationship with Liz, his killer, while trying to get his life savings back from Fiona.

SCRIPT: What’s your process?

Paul Gavin: My process is very organic. If I get an idea, I’ll just sit down and write. There’s little to no forcing. It feels more like channeling. Sometimes, I’ll go for days or months without writing a word, but then when something comes to me, I might binge-write for 18 hours straight. I really wrote The Rebound twice. I wrote it in a few weeks, several years ago. I feel comfortable admitting it sat around a long time, but I wasn’t showing it to anyone, either. Then last year, I got an idea for how to make it better and rewrote it over the course of a weekend.

SCRIPT: Where did you get the idea?

Paul Gavin: The inciting incident stems from a dream I had years ago. Added to that, I tend to be attracted to women who want nothing to do with me. You take unrequited love to the extreme; not only does she not like you … she wants to kill you, and that’s what we have here. Plus, as a kid I always liked the old noir film D.O.A. and even its remake. I must’ve watched them 30 times, and I think unconsciously, as I was writing, the contained timeline might have been inspired by those films.

SCRIPT: What’s your day job?

Paul Gavin: I work as a photojournalist for a network affiliate, which I think is a great job for an aspiring screenwriter, because every day is a new adventure. You’re always meeting new people, visiting crime scenes and accidents, and you get to work with young, beautiful people who are under a lot of stress.

SCRIPT: How long have you been writing?

Paul Gavin: All my life. I bought Syd Field’s Screenplay with birthday money when I turned 14 and have been writing screenplays ever since.


SCRIPT: What was it like to find out you placed in Big Break?

Paul Gavin: I actually didn’t realize it until after I signed with Michael. I went back and read unopened emails to find the list of semifinalists and see that The Rebound was on there. So it was more of an, “Oh-that’s-how-that-happened” moment.

SCRIPT: What was it like to sign with manager Michael Kuciak?

Paul Gavin: Throughout the whole process, I’ve just been thinking, “finally someone who gets it.” It’s gratifying and feels like years of hard work have finally paid off.

SCRIPT: What happened after you signed?

Paul Gavin: Not much time has passed, but Michael seems very hands-on and eager to produce, so whether The Rebound becomes a big-budget spectacle or a small indie, I sense that he’ll see it through to completion.

SCRIPT: What’s next for you? Career-wise? Writing-wise?

Paul Gavin: I’m going to keep writing in whatever capacity the ideas play out. I have a novel that’s ready to go, and there are other scripts where The Rebound came from.

SCRIPT: What’s your advice to other aspiring screenwriters?

Paul Gavin: If you just live life fully and put that into your writing, when it is good enough, your big break will come to you.

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