In the Spotlight: Oren Weitz
Worldly is what comes to mind when I think of Oren Weitz. At a time in his life when most people have settled, Oren decided to push on and see the world and also conquer it with his writing. I’ve said it many times, life experience makes a great writer. There’s no better experience than traveling. Oren knows this secret and uses it to his advantage. No wonder his work is getting the exposure it deserves. I am very excited to introduce you to him.
This is Oren Weitz...
Born and raised in Jerusalem, Israel. I've always been fascinated with art, and so I tried everything… almost. As a kid, I partnered with two girls from my class and together we wrote and performed short comic sketches every weekend. I took to drawing and playing the flute as well. As a teenager, I ventured into photography, and in my 20's joined a folklore dance group. But, as far as I can remember, I've always wanted to be part of the movie industry somehow.
I did my bachelor's degree in Hebrew and English Literature at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. My first experience in writing was actually translating from English to Hebrew and writing Hebrew subtitles for television programs. But the solitary work in front of the VCR, the TV, and my PC got the better of me. At the age of 31 I decided to travel the world and began working as a flight attendant. At that point, I abandoned any artistic activity; a hibernation of sorts.
Eventually, the need to express myself artistically worked its way back into my life. I guess the yearning to be part of the movie industry never faded. And so, with my tendency to daydream, it finally dawned upon me to sit down and write my first screenplay. Suddenly I fell in love all over again with the written word and found my artistic passion in the process. By now I've completed three feature-length scripts, number four is almost done. And number five and six are constantly rapping at the back of my head.
Q: How did you stumble upon screenwriting?
I was always socially awkward and spent many hours, days and years on my own. I guess the result was I became a true daydreamer. So much so that I've been told by quite a few people that sometimes it seems I'm so wrapped up in thoughts, that one can hear my brain making noise. I think that the point where my need to be creative and to be heard met my daydreaming is where the idea to sit down and write a script sparked. One early morning I woke up, and just at that sliver of a moment between being fully awake and still holding on to your sweet slumber, a single scene popped into my head. I wrote down the outline of that scene, went online and started researching the world of screenwriting. From that moment it felt that screenwriting is where I feel at home.
Q: Who/what inspired you into taking this path?
I have no back story of a teacher, family member, friend or an acclaimed writer who inspired me to take that path. Not even a life-changing event to tell apart from my desire to create art. Self-declared as it sounds, it is my mad-as-a-Hatter belief that writing stories that are meant to be movies are my vocation.
Q: Who was the first person who believed in you?
From the very moment, I confessed to him that I'm writing a movie script my husband, and partner in life for the past 17 years, was onboard. He knew that by now, I needed to fulfill myself entirely.
Q: What was the moment you knew you wanted to be a screenwriter?
Although he doesn't know it yet, a big credit for that goes out to Ben Scantlin who acted upon a favor requested by a mutual acquaintance. The synopses I sent him, lead to reading one of my scripts and, eventually, to a personal meeting. I was astonished that someone from the industry took interest in my work, and expressed a genuine belief in it. That meeting has had its part in acknowledging myself as a screenwriter.
Q: How do you define success for yourself?
First off would be the fact that I discovered I have more than just the one story to tell. While writing the first script I already had an idea for the next one. Suddenly I found myself jotting down ideas for another script, which urged me onward to complete one project so I could start writing the next one. When someone whom I've never met takes interest in my work counts as an accomplishment not to be taken for granted. And, if someday my script would become a film and people would recite lines they liked from it, well that's like winning an Oscar, right?
Q: Give us a typical day in your life:
Are you an Early Bird or a Night Owl?
Good morning?! There's no such thing! Either, I used to be a cat, or I want to be one in my next life. Anyway, you look at it, waking up, in general, is not my thing. Which is why most of my writing is done late into the night.
Do you have a morning routine or ritual?
If it's an off day then we'd linger with coffee in bed for as long as we like. My husband is also a flight attendant for the past 10 years so we work together a lot. When we're on layovers abroad it depends on the location. NYC means shopping, movies, and Broadway theatre. Bangkok means massages, spicy Thai food, and cocktails. It's on days we're apart that I do most of my writing.
How do you define a successful day?
Either it's a day I've progressed my current writing project another step towards fulfillment. Or, that it goes by without reprimanding myself and feeling guilty that I didn't write anything.
Q: What’s been the most important skill you've developed on your path to screenwriting?
The ability to visualize an entire scene while laying lazily on the sofa, getting up and jotting it down in slug lines and then sitting down and diving straight into writing the whole scene.
Q: What’s been the greatest challenge in your writing so far?
My tendency to procrastinate, in addition to finding the time, and just feeling creative are at the top of my list. And when I'm deep into writing a script it's that same old question that wreaks havoc in my thoughts – What's the point?
Q: What’s been the greatest reward in the choices you've made?
I love the challenge of putting together a story which is intended to be made into a film. At most times I feel like I'm on an endless rollercoaster ride. Those days on end when I get stuck in a scene without moving forward, followed by just that one day or a couple of hours that suddenly provide a breakthrough and scenes come pouring out of the keyboard. And, in the end, when the script is done and I feel it's ready to be seen.
Q: What do you want to learn from a community of your peers?
I'm an introvert, so I'd probably be too shy to ask, but if someone could tell me the secret to striking up a conversation with people I've just met that would be awesome. I mean, seriously, whoever invented networking must have been quite mad.
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