If you’ve been following, you know that Zachary Rowell, 28, of Los Angeles won SoCreate’s “So, Write Your Bills Away” Sweepstakes about a month ago. As the winner, we’ll send him enough money to pay his bills for the next three months, if he completes a series of check-ins to show that he’s using the time to write a feature-length screenplay. He has 90 days to take the project from start to finish. And the best part? He is going to share his entire experience with you!

We came up with this sweepstakes because we know, for many of you, time is a luxury. It’s incredible to watch writers working multiple jobs during the day, only so you have the flexibility to write at night (or visa versa). You’re squeezing in that passion whenever and wherever you can, and we wanted to make that journey just a little bit easier for one deserving writer.

Zachary charmed us with his authentic, honest attitude and his writing style, so we’re looking forward to sharing him (and his writing!), with you all. We hope some writers will opt-in to the challenge to also finish a feature-length screenplay by December 31, 2019. If you decide you want to take part, I hope you’ll join our Facebook Group, SoCreate – Screenwriting for Everyone, and share your experience just as Zachary does. Together, we can support each other through this process!

Without further ado, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Zachary through his first vlog check-in below. Enjoy, and check here every week for more updates like these!

Transcript:

“Hello! Um, I don’t know why I said hello like that. I never say hello like that. Hi, my name is Zachary. I’m the winner of the SoCreate sweepstakes challenge, which means I’ll be attempting to write a feature film in three months, while everybody follows along. Hopefully, you will. I will be updating weekly through these vlogs, and I’ll be sharing my challenges and hopefully a few accomplishments along the way. And then, of course, once it ends, I’ll share my full screenplay.

Hopefully, you all write a screenplay, too, in this amount of time. We can share the process together, and we can read each other’s screenplays and give each other notes, and pat each other on the back.

They asked me to tell you a bit about myself. So, I’m 28 years old. I moved to Los Angeles three years ago from the Dallas area of Texas. Yee-haw! I started writing when I was 14-15 years old. I was a depressed teenager. I had OCD. It was not a good time in my life, not a lot happening. I would stay in my bed for weeks at a time. I didn’t have a lot of friends. Still don’t, so … add me! Things were pretty miserable.

But then my grandfather passed away. That’s not the good part. I got his computer. It was my first computer, some bulky desktop. And it changed my life. It was originally supposed to be for like, Minesweeper, or homework, for word docs or whatever. But then I went to the grocery store one day, and I saw one of those AOL CD-ROMS, and I was like, “Woah, the internet! What’s this?!” And so, I put it in and waited for it to dial-up, and my life was changed.

I found this role-playing group on MySpace, and I started writing short stories based on the characters that we created, and from there, it went to screenplays. And somewhere along the way, I was like, wow, I’m not depressed anymore. I mean, it didn’t cure my depression, but it helped. And it made me feel good about myself for probably the first time since little league baseball. I felt good. I felt productive, and I was excited about the opportunity that it creates. Since I didn’t have a lot of friends, the friends I did make were on TV and in movies, the characters. And I liked the idea of creating that for someone – making that connection with someone you don’t know and making them feel less alone. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be that sentimental. It could just be something as simple as making someone laugh or keeping them entertained during a dark time in their life, or sharing a happy time! Things tend to get pretty dark with me.

So, the feature I’m writing about shouldn’t surprise you. It’s a dark comedy thriller. I like to describe it as a dark take on the “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” song, but my girlfriend does not like that description. She hates it. She likes the idea, she just doesn’t like how I describe it. She says throw it in the garbage.

So, basically, a husband finds out his wife might be cheating on him with Santa, and that’s the premise. And obviously, you’ll find out more about it as we go along, and I’ll share scenes and all that good stuff. And hopefully, I’ll write down a better logline.

My outline process, I wanted to talk a little about that. It’s a bit messy. When I first started out, I didn’t have an outlining process. I would just start writing. I think a lot of people start like that because it’s easier. It’s certainly easier for me. I don’t like the challenge of outlines, I suppose. I have trouble just sitting down and thinking, and thinking, which is why it’s kind of a long process for me. I think of an idea originally, like I thought of this idea that I’m going to write, a year ago. And I’ll think about the idea and instead of going to my computer, and trying to force myself to write it down then, I’ll think about it for a while. And in my head, I’ll be driving, or I’ll be making dinner, and I’ll think, “oh, what if in this scene, that’s pretty cool, and if this scene, I could do that,” and eventually it becomes something in my mind and that’s when I go on the computer and I start with a beat sheet approach. I write down the characters, what they want, what they need, and then I go through the first act, the second act, the third act, and what needs to happen in the first act, what do I need to set up, what needs to happen in the second act, what do we need to resolve in the third act. I know the ending, so I have an overall picture of the movie. I have a few specific scenes but I don’t get too into detail with it. I don’t have lines of dialogue planned out like some people do.

So, that’s what I’m working with currently. I’m maybe going to share what I have, but I just feel like it would only make sense to me because it’s a bit jumbled and there are sentences that don’t make any sense.

I think that’s it. I’m excited about this opportunity, and I hope you follow along. I hope you also write a screenplay – it would make it that much more enjoyable if I had other people doing it along with me. So, yeah, see you soon!” – Screenwriter Zachary Rowell, Winner, “So, Write Your Bills Away” Sweepstakes