screenwriter to watch
Greg Wayne was born and raised in the mostly-frigid climate of Toronto, Canada. After graduating from the prestigious Radio and Television Arts program at Ryerson University, he wrote for some of the lowest-budget shows in the history of Canadian television. Greg went on to become the Head Writer of a Toronto advertising agency, and after writing one-too-many toothpaste commercials, left the agency to write his way across Europe with nothing more than a backpack and a laptop. An invitation to join the American Film Institute Conservatory as a Screenwriting Fellow prompted Greg’s return to North American soil, and his time at AFI deepened his love for all things cinema. When Greg isn’t meditating or dabbling in witchcraft, he writes… A lot.
How did you break in?
Right after college, I got a job writing for a talk show (shout out to THE WEEK SHOW WITH MATT CHIN). It was a really small team, working with an even smaller budget, but it was so much fun writing monologue jokes, desk bits, and sketches with those guys. Once I got that taste of seeing my writing come to life on the screen, I knew there was no turning back.
STARSEED – Final Draft Big Break, Half-Hour Pilot Winner
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
Writer’s block isn’t an obstacle to the process – it’s a part of the process. This is a lesson that’s easy to forget when you’re in the throes of writer’s block – but I think the key is to just keep writing, even if you think the writing is terrible, and trust that the good stuff will come.
What has been your hardest scene to write?
I recently wrote a screenplay inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s THE LITTLE MERMAID – but instead of a mermaid who dreams of living on land, my story is about a leprosy sufferer who dreams of escaping the leper colony she is confined to and exploring the nearby city of New Orleans. I loved the core concept, but the first few drafts were a real struggle because I was trying to incorporate too many elements from the source material – specifically, the use of magic. I was stuck, so I sent the script to my mentor, and AFI legend, George Walczak – he reminded me that the screenplay, at its core, was a love story between the leprosy sufferer and the aristocrat she meets in New Orleans, and I didn’t need the magic stuff. Once I lost the magic, the script quickly and dramatically improved. So I guess the lesson is: have your scripts read by people who are better at writing than you are.
What do you feel was your turning point?
Getting into AFI was big for me. When you spend two years studying at a former monastery in the Hollywood Hills, where everyone insists on talking exclusively about cinema, it’s hard not to improve as a screenwriter.
What are you working on right now?
I’m adapting the life of Aleister Crowley into a TV dramedy series. It focuses on Crowley’s teenage years, and we see him transform from the pious son of a preacher into “The Wickedest Man in the World.” I’m kind of obsessed with Crowley – he’s one of the most interesting, and underappreciated, historical figures. I’ve never had more fun writing something.
What are your favorite movies?
BARRY LYNDON, THE REMAINS OF THE DAY, and AMADEUS. I’m a sucker for a good period piece.
Who are your favorite screenwriters?
I love Joe Eszterhas. His screenplays have such an effortless flow to them, and are incredibly easy to read. I swear you can finish BASIC INSTINCT in like twenty-five minutes.
What is your most Memorable AFF Moment?
It was great receiving a bronze typewriter for my BROAD CITY spec, but my favorite memory has to be the live reading of my comedy feature, TINY HAIRLESS PENIS. It was awesome hearing the screenplay brought to life by such talented and committed actors. There’s a scene in the script where two characters sing the lyrics to “I’M REAL” by Jennifer Lopez and Ja Rule – the actors delivered pitch-perfect J-Lo and Ja impersonations. I’ll remember it forever.