Breanne Nicole Wilson

Can you tell us about your journey into screenwriting? What inspired you to pursue this career?
My whole life, I've been writing. Even as a kid. I knew I'd be writing in some capacity in my career, but I didn't know what it would be. I knew I wanted to pursue acting when I was 14, but I couldn't afford drama school, so I ended up in a film program at a university closer to home. It was there that I learned screenwriting, as well as producing, directing, and the other aspects of filmmaking. Screenwriting came very naturally, and I specialized in it - and producing - in college. After college, I continued writing while building my career, company (Leaky Skylight Pictures), and acting chops. Now, here I am.

What genres do you find most compelling to write for, and why?
I find myself writing comedies and dramedies a lot. I've kind of naturally drifted in that direction. I think the world needs them, and I enjoy writing them.

How do you approach the initial stages of developing a screenplay? Can you walk us through your creative process?
I start with an outline, putting the events I have in my head down on paper. I'm a very visual person, so it helps to literally write it out on paper and then figure out how everything connects after. If I have an idea I'm not sure about, I'll take a separate page and list everything that is wrong with it, along with everything that works, then evaluate it. Once I've done that, I just jump in and start writing, essentially spitting everything out onto the page. If I've got it written down, I can go back and edit and re-evaluate it later. Usually after a night's sleep and at least two cups of coffee.

What is your favorite project that you've worked on so far, and what made it particularly special for you?
That's a really difficult question. In terms of writing, my pilot screenplay Shenanigans, that I've submitted to this festival, is definitely a favorite. I've been working on it since 2016, and it's become my child. Shenanigans started out as a class project. We had to come up with an idea for a reality show, and this idea was born in honor of my grandfather and a dear friend I grew up with – who both sadly passed away on the same day in 2015. My friend had worked at a retirement home and used to tell me stories about his experience working there. And my grandfather and I had always been close, and he was quite a character. So, the idea for Shenanigans began, and my professor liked it so much, he told me to pitch it for my university's student webseries when I was a junior. I did just that, and started writing the episodes. It was in the top two, but ultimately wasn't chosen to be made. So, I put it on pause for a few years. Then, during the pandemic, I took it and ran with it, writing and rewriting until I finally expanded it to a 30-minute pilot script this year. It's been a journey with Shenanigans, and I'm excited to see it made.

How do you handle writer's block or challenges during the writing process?
I'm not sure if it's the healthiest way to deal with writer's block, but usually I sit there and force myself to write SOMETHING. Anything. Even if it's just fluff, or a few sentences. I've found that if I can just get something on the page, it starts the flow again. I always tell myself that it doesn't matter if it's the worst thing I've ever written, I'll just get it on the page and edit later. I can even delete it all! But I at least got the mental gears moving again.

Do you have any specific strategies to overcome them?
Specifically, if I have an idea that I KNOW may not work, I make a list of everything that's questionable about it, and possible ways to fix it. It's like a pros and cons list, or a battle plan if the initial attack goes wrong. I also have some very trustworthy and brutally honest friends and family members that I like to run things by. Word of advice – get those people in your life.

When collaborating with directors and producers, how do you navigate differing creative visions and ensure the essence of your story is maintained?
I think it's all about communication and collaboration. And knowing that, when you're working with others, everyone's ideas need to be heard. Sometimes things come across well on paper, but not on the screen. As a director and producer myself, I can understand that – although it's not fun seeing some of your 'little darlings' cut, haha.

Are there specific themes or messages you find yourself consistently exploring in your work?
I tend to write a lot about what's going on in people's heads. Internal thoughts and daydreams. Shenanigansis an exception to that, but two of my other short screenplays focus on that. They're titled Living the Dreamand Office Chatter, respectively. I also tend to write a lot of ensemble pieces and workplace stories.

How do you balance staying true to your artistic vision while also considering market trends and audience expectations?
In terms of trends and expectations, length is something I'm always mindful of. However, the biggest questions that sit in my mind while writing are, "is this entertaining?" and "does this dialogue sound real? Would a real person say this?" I think audiences expect characters to be relatable as well, and it's important to me that mine are both relatable and interesting. Sometimes it's hard to find a balance, but that's what editing and rewriting is for. I'm constantly going back and reworking things, based on these questions.

Can you share an experience where feedback, whether positive or constructive, significantly influenced the outcome of your screenplay?
I have a dear friend who was giving me feedback on Shenanigans once. Without revealing too much, he told me he'd like to see one specific character have a secret. I liked the idea, but I wasn't sure what to do with it at the time. However, in the 30-minute pilot, I finally found the place to introduce it. Thank you, William.

More about Breanne and her projects