screenwriter to watch
Greg Sisco is a writer and director in the horror, thriller, and dark comedy genres. His feature spec script The Patience of Vultures won the Horror Award at the Austin Film Festival in 2018 and placed in the Top 50 in the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting. Published in both English and German, he is also the author of five novels. He is managed by Energy Entertainment.
How did you break in or get your start in screenwriting?
I started with an interest in acting and directing and to give myself material I learned to write and produce. Once I’d gotten some experience doing all those things, it was clear to me that writing was the one I was both best at and enjoyed the most.
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What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
Each character gets their own draft. Imagine you’re the actor who scored that part and give yourself every possible moment to shine — dialogue, actions, reactions, body language — even if the character is just a hotel clerk with a single, half-page scene, you want to be thinking, “I wish I was a seventeen-year-old girl so I could play this myself.” Once that’s done, do it to the next character. One a time, right down the line, until every part is a gem an actor will get excited about.
What’s the hardest scene or project you’ve ever had to write? How did you navigate the challenge?
Each one is a different challenge. I’ve done mockumentary and found footage writing where you have to justify the existence of every shot and have a compelling reason for why it was filmed. I’ve done a project where the same story is shown from multiple perspectives, where you have to find ways to keep from being boring when the same scene has to play out two or three times. Each project is its own Rubik’s Cube and the solution is always different, but solving those puzzles is a big part of what’s enjoyable to me about writing.
What was a major turning point in your career?
For years I sat on scripts doing nothing with them except telling myself I’d shoot them one day soon. In 2017, I dusted off two of them and challenged myself to get 100 rejections. I submitted to festivals, competitions, producers, managers, anywhere I could, keeping a record of how many rejections I’d gotten so far. I never did make it to 100, but I started winning awards and attending festivals and making friends in the industry, and recently I even signed with a manager. I should have made that rejection goal for myself years ago.
What are you working on right now?
I’m in the early stages of a new horror spec, but I’m not telling anyone about it whom I’m not already planning on killing.
What are some of your favorite movies?
The Big Lebowski, Network, Pulp Fiction, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Shining… Lots of darkly funny movies whose plots would be strong enough to carry the film even without the humor.
Who are some of your favorite screenwriters?
I’m a dialogue obsessive who fell in love with movies during the ’90s, so Quentin Tarantino, the Coen Brothers, P.T. Anderson, Wes Anderson, and Charlie Kaufman come to mind.
Share a memorable experience at Austin Film Festival.
Winning Best Horror Screenplay at a festival that was honoring Roger Corman was an incredible moment for me. I’ll never forget that. I shouted him out in my speech and was able to meet him for a minute after the ceremony. He’s a man who’s done so much for the horror genre. That was really special.