In the Spotlight: Rebecca Ann Dowty
Rebecca understands that our paths all lead us to one sacred place. She knows that life isn’t random. There is meaning to every moment and decision we make no matter how random they seem. She understands these instances are like a caterpillar inside of its chrysalis. Slowly rebuilding over time into something magnificent. This wisdom she has is why she is well onto her path of success and is why I would like to introduce you to her.
This is Rebecca Ann Dowty…
Where shall I start? So much has happened in my life… all of it led toward screenwriting. I just didn’t know it at the time.
I grew up in Mississippi. Eventually, I landed a gig as a DJ at a radio station. Later, I coordinated events for another station’s promotions department and received many free lunches and limo rides. That was cool. At one point I even worked in the Operating Room at a local hospital scheduling surgical procedures: people, equipment, etc. All of these different paths led me into producing various events and content segments for prime time TV for MBC Broadcasting in South Korea.
Q: How did you stumble upon screenwriting?
Via the scenic route… I was a serious journalist, not a thespian. I studied literature, not stage plays… But I LOVED movies! I traveled with my Drama Club to LA to watch a mid-week rehearsal of Family Ties, and met Bill Murray on the set of Scrooged… I have always loved the escape television and movies provide, and I strive to write with the vision and clarity of Dickens and Poe.
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I had always believed that the route to Hollywood was based on the success or failure of writing a great novel, that is until my step-dad handed me his old film school text book by Syd Field called SCREENPLAY.
Then, I went to market… At the time, IMDB had WONDERFUL message boards. I became very active and formed some friendships with mentors who were further along the path to successful screenwriting than my newbie status. But, I gained some attention from some Industry Pros who offered me a wealth of information and fed me texts to study a few at a time.
So much kindness and helpfulness. Hollywood isn’t about walls that keep talent out… It’s about guarding one’s time and investing it wisely into those who really will glean from your advice and apply it to grow and develop their talents.
Q: Who/ what inspired you into taking this path?
Through my hot cheeks in the burning flush, the story of my “First Kiddie Kiss” was read before an auditorium of hundreds of my peers at a Stanford University Journalism Workshop for high school students.
I had not written the article, but my story was the highlight of that morning’s lecture. The Instructor explained that journalism was no longer straight reporting. The Internet had changed everything, and now newspaper journalism, in order to survive, must “entertain” to compete for readership. A lesson I’ll never forget!
The other life-altering lesson I learned while at Stanford was how wonderful it is to genuinely like the person you are. I didn’t just accept myself while at Stanford, I learned I really liked myself as a person.
Q: Who was the first person who believed in you/ showed you that you could do this?
After roll call, my string bean of a teacher (over six feet tall), old Mrs. Bakker, moved from her desk in the back to the front of the class, and turned around with a handful of scribbled papers. Without any explanation to the class, she began reading “The Case of the Missing Million Dollar Rabbit.”
Kids around the room were enthralled. Some interrupted to ask questions, but she just kept reading to the end. Then, she said, “Rebecca wrote this story with her spelling words. If you have any questions, you may ask her on recess. Now open your readers to…”
When my classmates swarmed me at recess, I knew this passion was forevermore an unquenchable fire in my soul.
Q: When was the moment you knew you wanted to be a screenwriter?
“Bit by the bug” in kindergarten when a local news crew visited our classroom, I ended up on my grandfather’s lap that evening explaining in no uncertain terms, “They’ll make movies from the books I write!” Those “books” I later learned are scripts.
Q: How do you define success for yourself?
Find a need and fill it. Some of the most meaningful work I have ever done, which yielded the most compelling, intriguing and heart-warming stories have come from searching out a need to fill.
Ultimately though with respect to screenwriting, success for me is when my reader connects, when they really “get it.” That happened to me on the deepest, most ecstatically encouraging level when my ScreenwritingU colleague, Scott Fickas, read an early draft of AGENT M.I.L.F. His enthusiasm for my project gave me laser focus that the success of this script was entirely dependent upon finding that one producer who could get the production made and have the passion to carry it to the end.
Q: Give us a typical day in your life…
My day begins with face contortionist exercises upon chugging an apple cider vinegar concoction first thing… Chased down my by half-liter mug of steaming earl grey tea. Then, it’s a mad dash race for my arm chair where, Abbi, my beagle, and I contend over plot points and character flaws we face in the day’s writing.
At lunchtime, I load up my teenage boys, whom I homeschool, and we grab a soda. (*Note: Do NOT come between me and my Mountain Dew! It could be very dangerous for you.) Sometimes, we’ll grab a fast food lunch, and return home to watch a one-hour episode of something on Netflix or Amazon Prime. It’s a special time I cherish as long as they’re still at home with me.
Depending on the project I’m working, my afternoon is usually filled with writing, crochet, quilting or horseback riding. I’ve also been known to do a little producing and business planning, too.
Q: What’s been the most important skill you’ve developed on your path to screenwriting?
Laugh at yourself, and well, I believe it’s a character trait, but I’d have to say patience. The business of screenwriting is the long game. I’ve heard it said that every “overnight success” only took about twenty years preparation. One becomes a screenwriter because it’s their calling. It’s something we can’t not do.
Q: What has been the greatest challenge in my writing so far?
Learning the recipe.
For years I placed in the quarterfinals of screenplay competitions, which validated I had talent for this discipline of writing, but never went beyond that marker. I studied everything I could get my hands on to discover “The Recipe,” that blend of story criteria that Hollywood needs to create a commercially viable business opportunity for investors, and movies that we as audiences all love.
After years of blood, sweat and tears, I discovered “The Recipe” under Hal Croasmun’s tutelage in ScreenwritingU’s Master’s program.
Q: What is the greatest reward for the choices I’ve made?
I have a library of copyrighted works that I’m very proud of, and which I believe with every fiber of my being that will be made into people’s favorite movies one day.
Then, I’d have to say the opportunity to collaborate in making a story better than a single perspective can offer. To hear a fellow writer’s interpretation by hearing it through his/her voice, to listen to the actress bring a character to life on a deeper level than you perceived to write it, to have a production company tell you they really want to make it, but their slate is full and ask for permission to keep your script on file should they have a place for it in the near future… These votes of confidence and validation keep my hope of being a successful Hollywood Screenwriter burning with a roaring flame.
It’s only a matter of time.
Q: What do I want to learn from a community of peers?
Especially from my colleagues and peers, I glean wisdom and advice on how to handle meetings, refine pitches and gain insight to Industry workings to which I have not yet had exposure. Their review of my work has yielded some of the most incredible breakthroughs in my writing, and I will always appreciate their investment and camaraderie.