screenwriter to watch
Lauren Shippen is the writer and creator of the popular fiction podcast The Bright Sessions, which she uses to combine her love of scifi, queer stuff, and talking about feelings. When she’s not podcasting, Lauren voice acts, reads and writes YA fiction, and does a lot of karaoke. She’s originally from New York and now resides in Los Angeles.
How did you break in?
I came to screenwriting as an actor looking to dig into a role from all sides. I was growing frustrated to the work that was available to me, so I decided to write my own project for myself and some friends to act in. Once I realized that writing was some of my favorite bits of acting – developing a character, thinking about relationships – I never looked back.
Creator and writer of the science fiction podcast The Bright Sessions.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
Let it be bad. Sometimes I get caught up in wanting that first draft to be perfect (which nothing ever is) that I don’t get any writing done at all. I’ve started to give myself a little bit more leeway about just dumping all my worst instincts on the page to get them out so the real work can begin. I used to be scared that if I wrote the bad version of something, I’d get stuck in it, but usually it ends up being a really important part of the process.
One thing I’m still learning is how to balance creative input while following my own instinct. I know that I don’t always have the answer and need to defer to my mentors or collaborators, but I’m also figuring out those times when I want to stick to my guns. It’s a careful balance.
What has been your hardest scene to write?
I just finished my first novel and it was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my creative life. Moving from script to prose was a much harder transition than I was expecting – especially considering that I was dealing with a lot of the same characters from my script podcast series. I’m still in the process of navigating that challenge – the first draft is very much a first draft – but I think something that’s been helpful is knowing when to step away and let other eyes look at it. Sometimes you need a break and another voice – even if you don’t agree with what they’re saying – to give you perspective.
What do you feel was your turning point?
I feel like the past few years have been one long turning point. I think one of the myths of Hollywood is the idea of the “big break”. As far as I’ve been able to tell, there usually isn’t one thing that makes or breaks any career, just a series of events that hopefully put you on an incline. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience some of those events – the podcast gaining popularity, it being optioned for TV, getting a book deal – but if there was going to be one major turning point, it would probably be way back at the start. Taking my career into my own hands by producing my own work was the best decision I ever made, even if I never could have anticipated what it’s led to. From the very beginning, it was creatively fulfilling, which is the most important thing to me.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently finishing up the scripts for the fourth, and final, season of the podcast and starting to prep for the two mini-series we’re producing in 2019 and 2020. I’m also continually working on the first draft of my novel and developing the podcast for TV with Gabrielle Stanton. Outside of The Bright Sessions, I’m working on a couple of different fiction podcast projects that I can’t talk about yet but that I’m really excited for.
What are your favorite movies?
This is always such a hard question, so I’ll narrow it down to my favorite movies of 2017. “Get Out”, “Call Me By Your Name”, and “Ladybird” were the three movies I saw that made me feel things that I thought were also incredibly beautiful. “The Greatest Showman” was the movie that made me want to go right back into the theatre and watch it all over again.
Who are your favorite screenwriters?
I just finished watching “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and I will always adore how Amy Sherman-Palladino writes dialogue. I also really love Michael Schur and Rachel Bloom and their respective teams – they are doing some of the most interesting, dynamic writing on television right now.
What is your most Memorable AFF Moment?
The Women in Film panel was so unbelievably inspiring and informative. It was fascinating to hear from such successful, talented women right at the beginning of the #MeToo movement and to realize that we have all shared such awful experiences in the same industry and have persevered anyway. The whole conversation was so cathartic to listen to and felt really productive.