Hope Hickli stands out as a beacon of creativity and determination. From her early days crafting international marketing materials for CBC to creating engaging content for giants like Disney Interactive and Pixar, Hope's journey is a testament to the power of storytelling. Transitioning from political speechwriting to the script, she brings a unique perspective to the industry, focusing on crafting textured, compelling female-centered stories. Inspired by the untold tales of history's forgotten heroines, Hope is not just writing scripts; she's weaving narratives that demand to be heard. With a passion for biography, drama, period pieces, and adaptations, she aspires to add her voice to the chorus of storytellers who illuminate the human experience.
This is Hope Hickli...
I cut my teeth writing international marketing materials for CBC, Canada's public broadcaster, and in small documentary film production. I’ve written and produced interactive “edutainment” for Disney Interactive, Pixar and Fisher Price. After serving time as a political speechwriter, I’m beyond grateful to come to this beautiful, beautiful, maddening industry.
My starting “lane” seems to be biography/drama/period and adaptation. I hope to contribute to that body of work in the form of textured, compelling female-centred stories.
Q: How did you stumble upon screenwriting?
I’ve been writing professionally my entire working life—in PR, communications, marketing and, more recently, as a political speechwriter. Not to be too metaphysical about it, but the story I felt compelled to tell dictated the form it needed to take, and that was as a screenplay. And the rest, as they say…
Q: Who/what inspired you into taking this path?
I read a non-fiction book called E=MC2 about the eponymous famous equation. Each chapter focused on the amazing people whose work allowed Albert Einstein to do his groundbreaking work. There were very few women profiled in the book, but one of them just leapt off the page. My first thought was, “Why the hell haven’t I heard of her?” Followed immediately by, “I have to write her story.” And so it began.
Q: Who was the first person who believed in you?
I had a high school teacher in Toronto who told me I had writing talent and encouraged me to apply for a scholarship, which I did. It was the first time I’d been encouraged to write by anyone outside my immediate family. A teacher telling a student that they have a gift is a very powerful thing. I’ll be forever grateful.
Q: When was the moment you knew you wanted to be a screenwriter?
I’ve been writing professionally my entire working life (but not for the most part as a screenwriter). I see subtext in everyday interactions and I’m good at reading people. I’m empathetic. I’ve often been told that I’m very analytical. I didn’t realize the extent to which all those things could converge into one vocation. When I started writing scripts, I experienced a feeling of flow and joy that a lifetime of other kinds of writing have never given me.
Q: How do you define success for yourself?
For me, there are both micro and macro levels of success in this work.
The micro success is getting a scene or piece of dialogue “just right.” Internally reproducing over and over that feeling of joy when you write something that satisfies your inner critic.
The macro success includes finishing a script. But it’s trickier as it also includes how the outside world receives your work. Having someone you respect like your work is a great feeling. And as much as I’d like to say that the work in and of itself is enough, of course I want to see my projects produced.
Q: Give us a typical day in your life.
A day in my life depends on the thorniness of the writing problem in front of me. A thorny day of writing means a good workout followed by some unnecessary house-cleaning. Then I declare ENOUGH! and start writing.
On the “non-thorny” days, as soon as coffee is brewed, I’ll start working. On those days, I can work many hours without looking up from the computer.
Thorny problem or not, I always go to bed excited about getting to my desk the next morning.
Q: How do you define a successful day?
A successful day is a day when the flow is there, the output is happening, and I know I’m one step closer to crafting something good. Thankfully, everything we do as writers—sitting in a coffee shop, watching TV, interacting with people—can be brought into our work so there’s success to be had, even on a “non-productive” day.
Q: What’s been the most important skill you've developed on your path to screenwriting?
Developing a writing/planning/research process that works for me. This is a work in progress, as I expect it will shift depending on the kind of project I work on, but it’s been unexpectedly rewarding to learn how to structure the development of a project in ways that are efficient, fruitful and will help facilitate an unexpected and unique end result.
Q: What’s been the greatest challenge in your writing so far?
I wrote an entire pilot episode only to realize that, instead, episode two needed to be the pilot. Yes, it was painful to discard an entire episode, but I tell myself that everything I write helps me develop my writing muscles.
Although scrapping something you’ve spent loads of time on will always be a challenge, at the end of the day, the work is in service of the STORY—not my output goals or hours clocked. If the story is the focus, everything else will fall into place.
Q: What’s been the greatest reward in the choices you've made?
The greatest reward is in writing something I think is beautiful. That really is the joy of writing.
Q: What do you want to learn from a community of your peers?
We all bring strengths (and weaknesses) to the craft of writing. No one has it all. A community of peers can help illuminate those strengths and weaknesses so that we can keep getting better, stronger. Equally important is having a community who can empathize with our struggles and celebrate our wins.
Q: What is your Instagram and Social Handles so that people can find you?
Not a HUGE social media person, but you can find me at: