Interview with produced writer Lisa Hepner!

Interview with produced writer Lisa Hepner!

Tell us a little bit about your writing background?
I've been a screenwriter for over 10 years. Ugh! It's all about persistence and growth. I started writing comedy/rom coms but those weren't gaining any traction other than placing in a few contests. And several years ago, I saw the huge market for romance scripts,  especially Christmas, so I taught myself everything I could about writing those types of scripts (I'm also an avid watcher of those sappy movies too. If you're not, I think you can tell in the writing). I just kept learning and growing and pitching and networking. And rewriting!

You had two movies recently produced by Nicely Entertainment! How did that opportunity come about?
Through Roadmap writers. I did a month long mentorship with an executive that had experience with these types of movies. She was no longer working for a company that made romance movies but she had connections, as everyone in this industry does. I think that she saw that I took notes and was very open to suggestions and after seeing the progress on my rewrite she referred me to several of her contacts. Nicely Entertainment liked one of my scripts and ultimately decided to produce it and then they hired me to write another Christmas script for them. I currently have a couple more projects with them that will hopefully come to fruition.

What was the process like for you developing the project with a production company?
Exciting and stressful. I tried to remind myself that they are the buyer. They're putting the money up front to produce the movie so I wanted to give them what they wanted. My goal was to be the easiest writer to work with. I took notes and incorporated everything they suggested even using some of the verbiage they used. Basically, I gave them what they wanted. Sometimes it was stressful because the rewrite had to be done in a short amount of time. After working with them on that first movie, they hired me to write another one for them.

Having two of your scripts produced, have you seen a shift in how you write now?
I pay more attention to the budget now, which I never did. These movies are filmed for around 300K so you can't have large crowd scenes and extravagant locations, even more so with Covid. I'm always still learning and growing and doubting myself, lol. I've learned the importance of writing one-page synopses and treatments. They're crucial for moving forward with producers. They can often pitch your idea from your marketing materials or at least decide if they want to produce it or move forward with it. So that was a skill I had to learn.

Who are your writing influences?
I was a huge fan of Nora Ephron (RIP).  I tend to gravitate toward light, fun and quirky romance. I'm also a huge fan of John Hughes (RIP). I know that dates me but I loved his stuff. What can I say, I'm an 80's gal. Christmas Vacation is one of my favorite movies.

How did you discover Roadmap?
I've been a huge fan of Joey Tuccio throughout his career. He's so passionate about helping writers. Roadmap gives writers access to industry professionals and they provide mentors and training as well. I think everyone needs a mentor. And if you can prove to an industry insider/mentor that you're easy to work with, meet deadlines and provide entertaining content, then you'll have a career in this industry. It's hard to break-in but Roadmap Writers helps writers with that.

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