Interview with Greg Gearlds-Write of Passage Winner

Congratulations to Greg Gearlds, our Write of Passage Winning Writer for 2014.  

That means he wrote the best 12-page screenplay in one week (168 hours, based on a foundational scripture) with an advisor called a Development Executive (DE).  Allen Wolf is the winning DE.  Both are interviewed below. 

Prizes include $1,000 cash, introductions to Hollywood Pros, including Brian Bird ("Not Easily Broken," “When Calls The Heart”) and an InkTip Script Listing to provide exposure to their extensive network of producers, reps, manager, agents, and others.

Any WP script may be produced for the 168 Film Festival's Write of Passage Spotlight.  Writers and mentors (DE's) receive screen credit if their film is made. Writers and mentors (DE's) receive screen credit if their film is made.  

Greg Gearlds

From Greenfield, Indiana, Greg Gearlds is a writer/director. We asked him some probing questions and got probing answers.

JDW: What do you do for work?

GG:  Currently, I am Senior Manager of e-Commerce for a division of a global sporting goods company.

JDW: How did you learn about 168?

GG: I think I came across 168 in an internet search for Christian film festivals.

JDW: What was your inspiration for this year’s story, “The Tall Grass”?

GG: Mainly from personal experience.  We lived in a neighborhood for about five years and after we moved it really hit me that I didn't know anything about our neighbors.  I didn't know what they did for a living, how long they'd lived there and in some cases, I didn't even know their first names.  For the record, I don't think this is a good thing.  So, I took that concept of not really knowing your neighbor, threw in a conflict about the lawns and the story kind of came together.

JDW: How do you see the verse in your story? 

The 2014 Verse: Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. NIV

GG: Basically the main character in the story, even though he is a Christian and goes to church, is so self-absorbed in his own "stuff" that he simply doesn't see his neighbor the way that Christ would.  The grass and his focus on that "thing" (in our own lives it may not be grass) keep him from serving his neighbor as we are called to do.

JDW: The graduation of the character (from angry to healing) gives your story depth.  What is the big picture in terms of salvation?

GG:  It is really the path all Christians should be on.  It may not be angry to healing but we should be changing and becoming more Christ-like every day.  If we have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, then we should be able to look in our past and see that we have grown or are growing away from our un-Christ-like traits.  Of course, we will never be perfect as long as we are living and breathing on this earth, but we should be changing.  

JDW: What obstacles have you had to overcome in life?  How have they helped your writing? 

GG:  I honestly can't really name any obstacles that I've had to overcome; my life has really been pretty easy.  That's not to say I don't have challenges, everyone has challenges, and those challenges certainly influence what I write.  

JDW: Tell us about your other films/works of art?
GG:  I've shot two short films and the real purpose behind those films was to get better as a writer.  I wanted to take what I had written on the page and translate that to the screen and see what worked and what didn't.  Both films we shot on prayers, favors and broken shoestring budgets and unfortunately they look like it.  I still believe that story is number one, but when it comes to films, production value is a very, very close second.   I love stories so I also have written a number of short stories and do quite a bit of photography. You can see the short films and some photography at www.greggearlds.com
JDW: Tell us about your family and where you live. How has your environment and family shaped your writing?

GG:  I am married and have two kids, ages 9 and almost 14.  We live on a small family farm and try, emphasis on try, to live a simple, slower lifestyle.  We have a large vegetable garden in the summer and raise goats and sheep and pigs for meat.  We also milk the goats.   We home-school the kids, which really fits well with our lifestyle.  I really think the desire for a simple life shapes my writing by making me look at the things that get in the way of that.  

JDW: How did Mentor/Development Executive, Allen Wolf help shape your story?

GG: Allen was great to work with.  He really challenged me to show not tell - the first rule of screenwriting right?  But, it’s still probably one of the most often broken rules.  Allen called me out when my descriptions were weak or in some cases missing altogether.  Through this he really helped give life to each of the scenes.

Interview with Winning Development Executive (and wiseguy) Allen Wolf:

Allen Wolf

JDW: You are a three-time winning Development Executive of the Best Screenplay.  What is your secret?

AW: My secret is being the best Development Executive ever. Period. I’ve also conquered humility. Done.

JDW: Do you recruit in Indiana?

AW:  I’m originally from Ohio so I recruited about 500 people from the Midwest to sign up for this contest in the hopes that at least one of them would end up on my team. That just happened to be Greg.

And good for him for playing the odds. People from the Midwest create some kind of magic when they work together on screenplays and Greg and I proved that without a doubt. Unfortunately that’s the only kind of magic Midwest people can create together other than levitating spoons, which has never been that handy.

JDW: Do you have any ties to the Indianapolis 500 or the Colts?

AW: I founded both. It’s hard for people to believe that but I’m kind of a slowly aging Benjamin Button but in reverse. I’ve been around for a long time. I used to own 500 colts on a farm in Indianapolis, which is where I got the idea to create both. Now I ride my colts to watch the cars race or cheer while whatshisname makes an awesome touchdown. Go, Go Indianapolis!

In all seriousness, it was a pleasure to mentor Greg throughout the process. He’s a talented fellow.