Alex Eylar: The Folly Of Youth
Alex Eylar made it to the final round of BlueCat with his script The Prime Mover. Now, as is customary for BlueCat winners and finalists, he answers our invasive questions about his creative process!
When did you start writing screenplays?
High school. I've always been a film geek, so in my junior year I
tried my hand at screenwriting. The result was a shoddy, uninspired,
patchwork collection of inside jokes and bad gags; something I would
take pleasure in burning if I had a hard copy. Once I started reading
more scripts and watching more (and better) movies, my sensibilities
matured. I wrote a script I could be proud of, which paved the way for
film school, where I learned the ropes and honed my skills. Fast
forward to today and I'm a finalist.
Why did you start writing screenplays?
The folly of youth. I read a script to a movie I liked and thought "I
could do that", and I did. I had ideas to share and stories to tell,
and that's all I needed.
How many screenplays have you finished?
I have five completed screenplays and two halfway completed. But a
script is never finished: there's always more that can be done.
How do you find time to write?
I keep the early hours of the morning free. 12:00-3:00 a.m. is prime
writing time, for me personally. The ideas just flow.
What aspects of the writing process do you struggle with the most?
Character. I've always been more plot-focused and dialogue-focused
than character-focused; I've been told my protagonists need a little
depth. But it's a shortcoming that gets easier to overcome with every
script I write.
Why do you feel like you do well as a screenwriter?
They say I nail dialogue, and can tune into the "awesomeness"
frequency very effectively. Other than that, your guess is as good as
How does screenwriting make you happy?
When the complexity of the plot and character dynamics pay off in the
third act without leaving any loose ends, it's a feeling of
satisfaction like none other. Also, writing an action sequence that's
never been done before is a sublimely giddy moment.
What do you think is the biggest problem with storytelling in Hollywood?
Too often, Hollywood can't see the forest for the trees. It's a trap
that's easy to fall into, even for a screenwriter: you focus on the
individual elements - the "God, this is awesome" bits; the Rule of
Cool; the marketability - at the expense of story. Blinded by the
flash in the pan, you ignore how poorly those elements may fit in the
story you've so delicately crafted. You can't just shoehorn in a
skydiving gunfight because it'd be neat: you've got to make it
organic, or the audience will call bullshit.
How can you improve in how you handle feedback?
Humility helps. There's a temptation to think of a script as your baby
that no one else should touch, and that attitude will only hurt you.
It's an industry of collaboration, so if you're not open to second
opinions, your Citizen Kane will never see the light of day. I don't
have much of a problem taking feedback, because more often than not,
my response is "Damn, I wish I thought of that first."
What are your greatest fears about screenwriting?
Mediocrity. The worst circle of Hell is the one you land in when
you've got a script that's good, but not great. People like it, but
not enough to do anything with it. It's got potential, but it's just
not there yet. That perpetual arrested development is all the
incentive I need to knock it out of the park.
What is your highest screenwriting goal for yourself?
I interned at Scott Free Productions a few months ago, and spent a lot
of time preparing the conference room for Ridley Scott's and Tony
Scott's script meetings. I've made it my mission to one day return to
Scott Free, and return that very conference room, under different
What do you do to achieve that goal?
Write and don't stop.
Thanks, Alex! It's simple advice, but also the best - never stop writing. Best of luck making it back to Scott Free!