An Interview with Screenwriter and Film Critic Christian D. Chapra
An Interview with Award Winning Screenwriter and Film CriticChristian D. Chapra
|Christian in Barcelona|
Christian D. Chapra has written since he was seven. The first time he was published was in high school. It was a poem. According to Chapra, “poems should be read, yes they are written, but they should be performed.” Carole Matthews, his English Lit teacher, published his poem -- by reading it to the staff and his peers. This is where his story began.
Two more poems would win contests in college, but critical recognition occurred in 2013, when he won “Best Unproduced Drama Screenplay” at the London International Filmmaker’s Awards for his screenplay: “Moving On.”
How would you describe the job of writing?
CC: “Writing is an extremely tough job. At the end of the day, you are alone with a blank page. Nobody can really help you with it. You need to decide how you are going to deal with it. It is critical to any writer’s development that they learn there is no right way to be a writer.”
What genre do you write?
CC: “I am an unconventional writer. I am all over the map -- dramas, comedies, mysteries, thrillers, sci-fi, fantasy. I’m a chaotic mess! It’s just the way my mind works. I am basically every agent’s nightmare. Anyway, find an agent. They don’t need to be a perfect fit, just find one! I go where the Muse leads me. And she is either schizophrenic, or I am just receptive to a universality in the stories I tell. I believe in the magic of everyday life. And sometimes, the magic gets a little bit crazy. I belong to the genre of magical realism.”
"Write because you love it"
What makes a publishable story?
CC: “Know the basics. Conflict, and occasion. Every story is an occasion. Something big is going on, that deserves attention. All thirty-three Greek Tragedies tell you everything you need to know about structuring a story. And, we are still using them. Most stories are in three acts: you introduce a problem, there is a reversal of fortune, and then a resolution. It doesn’t need to be a happy resolution, but you must tie up loose ends.”
What advice would you give an aspiring writer?
CC: “Julia Cameron in ‘The Artist’s Way’ advises to write a contract with yourself to write 500 words. I must write 500 words every day, no matter what. They can be complete nonsense. It can be ‘nonsense’ 500 times. When you finish, fold up the paper, put it in a box, and never look at it again. It’s like bodybuilding. You are building up muscle, and freeing your mind. We all struggle with hesitation as writers. This is the cure.”
Any last words?
CC: Write because you love it. Honestly, the level of rejection is brutal. And it doesn’t make any sense why the rejection rate is so high. It’s like, an industry about reading hires people who don’t like to read! How weird is that? Those people who actually read consume material like it is a spaghetti dinner! There is a hell of a lot of room out there.”