screenwriter to watch
Cylin Busby is a former book editor and a best-selling, award-winning author of books for young readers. Her first screenplay, REBECCA AND QUINN GET SCARED, written with Nanci Katz, was a comedy finalist at the Austin Film Festival in 2017.
How did you break in?
I’ve been a published author for more than 15 years, and after several of my books were optioned, I decided to try my hand at writing a screenplay. I teamed up with my friend, Nanci Katz, and we began writing REBECCA AND QUINN GET SCARED. We’re now working on our third screenplay together.
Screenwriter / Author
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
When I was a book editor at HarperCollins, one of the publishers I worked with told me: “There are no great writers, only great revisers,” and that really stuck with me. All of writing is revision, so now that’s where I live and breathe as a writer.
What has been your hardest scene to write?
Straddling both horror and comedy in our screenplay, REBECCA AND QUINN GET SCARED, was a challenge. It wasn’t easy to make a story funny as well as scary—without any campy, slapstick humor. When we semifinaled in both horror and comedy at AFF 2017, that was a huge accomplishment because I knew we had done both genres well.
What do you feel was your turning point?
Sitting in on a few of the panels at AFF, I heard folks saying how Austin had “changed their lives.” At the time, I took it in with a bit of skepticism. But, when we got back to L.A., it turned out to be true. People wanted to read our script because we had finaled at Austin Film Festival—and that’s how we got a director attached, which led to representation. So yeah, AFF changed my life!
What are you working on right now?
All of our screenplays center on female characters and women’s stories. Right now, we are writing a female-revenge story called SELF DEFENSE with a big, juicy part for an older actress.
What are your favorite movies?
Absolute favorite is ALL ABOUT EVE, though I wish Mary Orr was given more credit for the story. I love revisiting classics like Hitchcock’s REBECCA, WUTHERING HEIGHTS, CASABLANCA, GASLIGHT. More recent favorites: THELMA & LOUISE, ALIEN, and VALLEY GIRL.
Who are your favorite screenwriters?
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, for her perfect adaptations. Callie Khouri, Robin Schiff, Ted Tally, Alan Ball.
What is your most Memorable AFF Moment?
Nanci and I were waiting for the elevator at the Driskill bar, talking about a panel I’d gone to with Walter Hill and Shane Black. Just then, the elevator opened–as I was saying something about Shane Black–and who was in the elevator but… Shane Black. He was very nice about it, introduced himself and acted like I hadn’t just made an absolute idiot of myself. Thanks, Shane Black!