Script brings you behind the scenes to get to know our family of contributors on a more personal level. Meet Barri Evins, author of our column Breaking & Entering.
A producer who’s sold to all the majors, Barri Evins created Big Ideas to give aspiring screenwriters what it takes to break into the business by sharing methods she uses with professional writers. Visit her website to get a free “Thumbs Up” or “Thumbs Down” on the market potential of your script concept. The Big Ideas Screenwriting Seminar, held around the country, provides professional techniques, powerful tools to achieve your dreams and revolutionizes your creative process. Big Ideas offers an insider’s perspective, reveals how to create stories that ignite industry interest, and enables you to develop screenplays faster than ever before.
What was the first movie you ever remember seeing or the one that made the most impact on you as a child?
When I was little, I saw the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with my younger brothers. Always baffled me that this was a “children’s movie.” Other than Dick Van Dyke and a flying car, this is a horror movie!
Set in a land where children are outlawed, the villain is the evil Child Catcher; equipped with a long nose for sniffing out children, along with a net and cage for capturing them. When Dick and his love interest leave in search of food for the hungry children, they warn them to remain hidden.
It’s then that the Child Catcher comes searching. He seeks to lure them out with a haunting, sing-song refrain, “Here we are children, come and get your lollipops, lollipops, come along my little ones.” The moment the children creep out of hiding they will be trapped in the Child Catcher’s net, forced into a circus-like wagon which masks a lion’s cage, and hauled off to prison.
As the Child Catcher closed in on the little girl and boy, my brothers screamed out, “Look out, look out, he’s behind you!” They were completely caught up in the experience of the movie.
Also, I grew up in a small beach town on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Jaws was screening at an old theatre. At the moment when Richard Dreyfus is underwater and sees the severed head, so many people gasped aloud and jumped back that the entire row of seats jolted backwards. Loved the scare. Thought it was awesome.
That theatre was located just before the main bridge to the beaches. Their marquee read, “Going to the beach? Seen Jaws yet?” The beach business owners banded together to make them take it down.
I read the novel as a kid, finished it late at night, and was scared to go into the bathroom.
Despite these anecdotes being about great scares, what I see in retrospect is that I am a junkie for an authentic, visceral experience, whether on the page or on the screen.
What word or scenario do you never want to see in a screenplay again?
The hero returns to their hometown after a long absence and a mystery from the past comes out. But of course.
What profession did your parents want you to have?
Anything with an advanced degree. They met in grad school.
What profession, other than your current one, would you like to try if you could have a do-over?
Psychologist, just like my parents. It’s one of my two undergrad degrees, and I worked with clients in the field while trying to break into the industry. I actually got to use this in a wacky executive job interview for a well-known crazy producer. “I’ve worked with paranoid, hallucinating, suicidal schizophrenics. Crazy doesn’t scare me!” Impressed the hell out of the execs interviewing me. Almost got me the job.
What drew you to the entertainment industry and specifically, why did you want to help writers?
Hi, my name is Barri, and I am a storyaholic.
Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I am currently addicted to Ben & Jerry’s Greek Banana FroYo with a peanut butter swirl. Please buy this so they don’t stop making it leaving me high and dry. I actually know Ben and Jerry, tried to get them to let us make a movie about their lives (Jerry: “I’m not finished yet.”), interviewed them for a feature length comic doc (Ben did an activist rap till he turned beet red, and we thought he might have a heart attack on camera), and produced and directed a series of political commercials for them for the 2000 elections on improving education and health care for children. They starred Paul Newman, (oh yeah, baby, amazing star power, amazing blue eyes, and there I am bossing him around in the most delicate way possible, but he was good with it.) Ben brought a case of ice cream to the editing room. I tried pitching him a flavor, but he shrugged it off as “seasonal.”
What do you wish you knew about the industry before you jumped in?
The three most important factors in advancing in the industry are relationships, relationships, relationships.
If you could impart only one piece of knowledge onto writers, what would it be?
The idea, the idea, the idea. The idea is king in this business and key to breaking in.
If you could go back in time and talk to your 18-year-old self, what advice would you give?
Nuh-uh. No way.
If you have any other fun tidbits you want to add, go for it!
While I love my ScriptMag column, I adore writing as my alter ego, the sexy, scintillating, irreverent, and oh-so-blunt, Dr. Paige Turner. When it comes to telling it like it is, Paige goes for naughty over nice every time.
Read Barri’s Breaking & Entering Column
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