In the Spotlight: Amy Leigh McCorkle
There is a lot of buzz around Amy and it’s well deserved. I’ve had the pleasure of watching her career boom from the quiet little screenwriter who sat in the corner and won all of the awards to becoming a producer and director. It’s pretty amazing really. She is living proof that nothing can stop you from achieving what you want in life. Nothing. She has overcome challenges and setbacks that would break most people. Her journey has allowed her to truly shine which is why I’m very glad to have her in the spotlight. This is Amy Leigh McCorkle…
I was born and raised in the city that plays host to the Kentucky Derby and home to the famous Actor’s Theater of Louisville. I’ve always been a voracious reader since the age of 5 when I was introduced to creative writing. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a professional author.
By 21 I worked at a bookstore where I met my future screenwriting partner, Melissa Goodman and embarked upon the long road to screenwriting success. Since then we have gone on to venture into directing and producing documentaries, music videos, and short films. Our most notable work, Letters to Daniel details our journey from breakdown to bestseller while facing our greatest challenge, my surprising diagnosis of having bipolar disorder.
The struggles we had were fierce, drawn out and resulted in more than one occasion of deep heartbreak. With a lot of hard work, love, and patience Melissa helped me get through the roughest of patches of my life.
Collectively I’ve had 23 novels published, 11 of them being Amazon Bestsellers and my memoir upon which the script adapted, is an Amazon International Bestseller hitting as high as #2 in the U.S.
The film festival awards haul has also impressive, 72 wins since we’ve first started entering contests in 2014. Amy is currently shopping their script Letters to Daniel for production, they have a reality show in development and there is interest from faith-based networks in their series, The Guardian.
Q: How did you stumble upon screenwriting?
I met Melissa at B. Dalton Booksellers and we always had something for each other to read when we worked together. In the fall of 1997 she approached me about co-writing a book. I thought, sure what the hell? Going into a writing partnership blind to the challenges we would face was probably a blessing in disguise. We were outlining the book when I saw an ad in the back of Writer’s Digest that said ‘Film School for Writers’. Turns out it was a screenwriting workshop given by Michael Hauge in Lima, OH. The rest is pretty much history.
Q: Who/what inspired you into taking this path?
When I was 17 I ran across a book by Viki King called How
Write a Movie in 21 Days. I wrote my first script after reading it. I have to admit my script was awful, it was horrible, it was complete and utter crap. But you have to start somewhere right?
Q: Who was the first person who believed in you?
The first was Ms. Pompeii my 8th honors English teacher. She was a bright spot during a very dark time. Middle school was hell on Earth. That year she was my teacher I won Young Authors which at the time was a statewide competition. Ms. Pompeii knew I could do it and it was her who gave me the belief that I could do it.
Q: What was the moment you knew you wanted to be a screenwriter?
That’s easy. I was sixteen, I rented the movie Dead Again with Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branaugh. I love that movie to this day. Probably my favorite kind of movie, a romantic thriller.
Q: How do you define success for yourself?
Every day that I’m able to sit down and write is a win. I ain’t gonna lie, I love to take home trophies. And love to have books published. But being in the right mindset and stay in recovery is something I put before everything. That old adage if you don’t take care of yourself is very true.
How do define success for your path you're on?
I set a very high bar for myself. I dream of making it in mainstream Hollywood so I’m a pretty driven person. I learned a long time ago you embrace all steps in the journey. I don’t like to settle for things. Honestly, I was happy with riding the festival circuit rails. Until I attended AOF in 2016 and reignited that passion and belief if I want to make it happen I have do the things that will make it happen.
Q: Give us a typical day in your life.
Early Bird or a Night Owl? I would have to say it depends on my sleep cycle, but I alternate between being an early bird and a night owl.
Do you have a morning routine or ritual? I take my laptop, mouse, and headphones and set it down. Then I make steel oats and a banana. I open up my projects I’m working on which is usually the novel first.
What about lunch? Oh, I’m terrible about this. If I’m writing I can fall into a music vacuum and disappear into the characters and world I’m writing about. But if I look at the clock and I’m feeling hungry I’ll force myself to stop and fix lunch.
Do you have a pre-bed ritual? I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but my guilty pleasure is watching The Golden Girls and The Nanny before bed.
How do you define a successful day?
Did I write a chapter/scene and/or correspond with someone who could push my career to the next level.
Q: What’s been the most important skill you've developed on your path to screenwriting?
Perseverance. I was 21 when I embarked upon a career in screenwriting. Through my personal challenges, I’ve learned that the great skill I have in my toolbelt is blind faith. That if I can just hold on longer than anyone else I’m going to get there. I didn’t have my first book published until I was 37 years old and I didn’t win my screenwriting award until 2014. Good things come to those who work insanely hard and put in the long hours.
Q: What’s been the greatest reward in the choices you've made?
The friendships and relationships with the film community. I don’t have a film community that embraces locally. I had to fish in larger ponds, so to speak. In the process, I’ve enriched my life and learned from of the best filmmakers and screenwriters in the independent film community.
Q: What do you want to learn from a community of your peers?
How to translate that festival success into a professional paying career. Also, I’d like to meet other writers. I want the relationships I’ve forged to carry on into the future because success in a vacuum is no fun. Sharing it with others and mentoring and being mentored are all part of my recipe to enjoy life and define success on and in my own terms. So there’s room enough for everyone in the swimming pool.
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