screenwriter to watch
Pat Mills’s first feature film, the dark comedy GUIDANCE, which he wrote, directed and starred in, had its world premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. Picked up by Strand Releasing in the US and Search Engine Films in Canada, GUIDANCE was hailed as a “Grade A” comedy by the Los Angeles Times and was a New York Times Critics’ Pick. His performance as “David” was nominated for an Actra Award for Outstanding Male Performance.
An alumnus of NSI, CFC as well as TIFF’s Talent lab and TIFF Studio, Pat was named winner of TIFF’s Pitch This for his second feature DON’T TALK TO IRENE. The screenplay won Best Comedy Screenplay at the Austin Screenplay Competition. The film stars newcomer Michelle McLeod, Bruce Gray, Scott Thompson and Oscar-winner Geena Davis. DON’T TALK TO IRENE had its world premiere at TIFF 2017. It won the Comedy Vanguard Feature Award and Audience Award at the 2017 Austin Film Festival. The film will be released theatrically and VOD in the US on March 2nd, 2018.
He is represented by the Jennifer Hollyer Agency in Canada and Verve Talent and Literary Agency in the USA.
More at www.pat-mills.com Twitter: @patmills
How did you break in?
I started writing (mostly terrible) feature screenplays while in film school, but my “break” was when I won a pitching contest at the Toronto Film Festival. The experience gave me confidence when I needed it.
writer/director, DON’T TALK TO IRENE (2018), writer/director, GUIDANCE (2015)
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
Know when to stop. I’m the type who will get bored with a draft and rewrite and rewrite, but it’s like filing your nails – go too far and it’ll turn into a bloody mess.
What has been your hardest scene to write?
Nothing’s hard when you’re drunk. Just ask my boyfriend.
What do you feel was your turning point?
The week my first feature GUIDANCE was released in the US. This little underdog of a Canadian movie became a New York Times Critics’ Pick and the LA Times gave us a rave review and wanted a sequel. My self-esteem lived off that for about six months.
What are you working on right now?
I’m hoping to direct a queer horror film this summer. I’m also adapting a book into a musical and developing a gender-questioning teen series based on my experiences in high school.
What are your favorite movies?
I love dark comedies like Welcome to the Dollhouse, Election and To Die For, but there will always be space in my heart for Working Girl – I’ve never related to a character more than Tess McGill.
Who are your favorite screenwriters?
Callie Khourie (Thelma and Louise is perfection), Nora Ephron (When Harry Met Sally is a masterpiece, despite the speedwalking scene), Diablo Cody (Young Adult is criminally underrated) and Mike White (what a cutie).
What is your most Memorable AFF Moment?
Winning three times for the same film. My Don’t Talk to Irene screenplay won Best Comedy Screenplay in 2013. In 2017 the completed film won the Comedy Vanguard Award and then Audience Award. I also got the chance to meet Jonathan Demme, who’s always been a hero. I’ve never left Austin disappointed (or empty handed!).