In the Spotlight: Alex Hawthorne
Multifaceted is the word that comes to mind when I think of Alex. Screenwriter, director, & cinematographer are just a few of this filmmakers titles. He has chosen a path towards success and that has led him to study the art of cinema. See, Alex isn't just the type of person who learns something and moves on to the next thing. No, Alex has to get to the true root of a subject. In his studies, Alex needed to discover what makes a great film and why. Having a desire and the will to learn like that makes Alex a true gem of an artist. I'm pleased to introduce you to him.
This is Alex Hawthorne...
I was born in Philadelphia, PA and moved to New Jersey at age eight. I've had the privilege of directing five short films, a commercial, and a feature film. I've also had the opportunity to not work as a cinematographer when on set as well. As a screenwriter, I've written multiple short films, three feature films, and a TV Pilot. Recently, my feature script "Comic Relief" has won two awards including winning me the award for best new writer at the NOVA Film Festival.
Q: How did you stumble upon screenwriting?
When I was in college I wanted to be a director. I realized if I wanted to direct I was going to need scripts. I figured no one would just hand a script to me. So I decided to take a lot of writing classes and began the long path of writing my own scripts. After college, I read a lot of screenwriting books while trying to write short scripts to hone my craft. Then I started writing features.
Q: Who/What inspired you into taking this path?
One day I came across the book "The Heroin Diaries" by Nikki Sixx and started reading it. Here was this rock star who was a complete drug addict but despite his addictions, he was still able to write hit songs. It inspired me to take writing more seriously. Growing up was hard, just like it was for most of us. I saw writing as a really good emotional outlet for my creativity.
Q: Who was the first person who believed in you?
I've had a lot of teachers growing up that believed in me. I wasn't a good student, as a child, my teachers told me that if I just worked hard and studied more I could be doing great. I'm glad I finally listened and my hard work is now starting to pay off.
Q: What was the moment you wanted to be a screenwriter?
Wanting to be a screenwriter came from my desire to be a filmmaker. You can't make a movie without a script. When I was in college I took a screenwriting class and my classmates really enjoyed reading my scripts. I was really happy and excited that they liked my work and realized I had a knack for writing.
Q: How do you define success for yourself? How do you define success for your path you're on?
For me, success is measured in how other people respond to my work. That's probably not the healthiest way to go about things but it forces me to work harder and be willing to make changes to things I'm working on. If other people read my script and hate it. Things probably need to be changed. If people like it, I've done something right. Every day I try to do better than I was doing the day before. As I continue to learn and write I've gone from writing shorts to features. And winning awards has been nice. Getting that recognition and people are more likely to offer you work when you're an award winner so that's been helping me to build momentum.
Q: Give us a typical day in your life.
Most days I'll wake up and stretch. I need to get some blood flow going. Otherwise, I'm just sitting on the couch all day. There have been times where I've had writer's block. Then suddenly I have an epiphany and I'm grabbing paper and writing notes for my next script or my next scene. I usually write after 2pm. That's when my brain gets going. Then I'll have dinner around 7pm and watch TV. I'll usually brush my teeth and read a book before bed. Usually non-fiction.
Q: What's been the most important skill you've developed on your path to screenwriting?
One of the things that have helped me as a writer is that I'm not just a writer. I've direct and edited films, as well as done cinematography and sound recording. It makes me think more when I'm writing. I sit and wonder. What can be filmed and how would it look in the editing process. I like being well rounded, and I try to write realistic dialogue. I'll often say dialogue out loud to hear how it sounds and more importantly to feel how my mouth feels when I'm saying it. Sometimes you write something and you think it's great but then you say it out loud and it's too wordy.
Q: What's been the greatest challenge in your writing so far?
My greatest challenge in writing has been character development. I'll come up with an idea that I think would make a great story and I'll start writing it and realize the characters aren't full enough. I often find myself stopping and going back to flesh out the characters and their motivation better.
Q: What's been the greatest reward in the choices you've made?
Meeting new people who like to nerd out about films. I was a loner growing up so when I'm around other writer's and filmmakers I feel like I've found my tribe so to speak.
Q: What do you want to learn from a community of your peers?
I'm always interested in reading other people's scripts. Some people write stuff that I would never have thought to write about in a million years. So it's nice to have the opportunity to read other people's ideas and be blown away that they wrote about a subject you knew nothing about.
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