Sean is an autodidact. He has my respect for becoming a self-taught screenwriter. Why? Because screenwriting is the most difficult literary art in existence. How do I know? Because I am one too. Now, imagine trying to create a visual medium but doing it through the written form. Now imagine the effort and will it takes perfecting that without an instructor. It can be overwhelming, as most writers give up. Not Sean. He is sticking with it and growing his skills every day. This is why I am glad to introduce you to him.
This is Sean Collom…
Having grown up in a pretty average middle-class family, storytelling has always been a passion of mine. From a young age, I’d tell all sorts of crazy stories. I wanted to bring more color into my life, so I would tell stories and create plays for myself and my siblings to perform. While playing with my toys as a child, I would create elaborate stories and quests for them. Stories are part of who I am. Granted, these stories and machinations made me the weird kid in school. While I was busy creating stories in my mind, others were playing sports and teasing the quiet kid in the corner. That caused me to hide that part of myself for a while, at least until I found theater in High School. I was accepted there. My imagination thrived.
My journey to screenwriting isn’t like a lot of others, I’d imagine. While many other screenwriters went to school for the craft, I did not. After High School, I got married and started a family. To support them, I went to the University of Phoenix and got a business degree. I’ve had a number of jobs throughout the years just trying to support my family and writing sort of fell off the radar for a while. I never felt totally comfortable in my own skin until I started writing again.
Since then, I’ve written two novels and the first volume of a book series for middle-grade readers. I’ve written feature scripts and a handful of pilot scripts. I’ve learned a lot from master classes and speaking with other screenwriters. Though I’m self-taught, I’m more than capable of telling great stories and I can’t wait for the world to see what I can do.
Q: How did you stumble upon screenwriting?
While I was in school, I was always interested in the arts and drama. Originally, I wanted to perform but quickly realized my strength was in writing. As I got older, I wrote two novels and remained interested in film until I decided to make the move to screenwriting and found my strength and my passion.
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Q: Who/what inspired you into taking this path?
Screenwriting was always something I had an interest in, but I never thought it was something I could do. You might find this to be a strange inspiration, but it was Kevin Smith, of all people. I listen to his podcast and something he said really resonated with me. He said, “If there’s something you want to see created, don’t wait for someone else to do it. Get out there and create it.” That’s what got me writing my first screenplay and began my journey as a screenwriter.
Q: Who was the first person who believed in you?
If I’m being honest, the first person to truly believe in me is my wife, Sierra. She also sparked the original idea for my first screenplay and helped develop the story. Basically, I put pen to paper on an idea that was originally hers, and we plan on making the film together. She believed in me while I was writing my first novel, “Bionicum,” in 2017 when no one else would. Until she was there by my side, I had to push myself through the many people who told me writing was a pipe dream.
Q: When was the moment you knew you wanted to be a screenwriter?
Well, it was always something I was somewhat interested in, but what really got me there was when someone told me they liked my novel because it read like a movie. Long descriptions and other writing found in a novel was always my weakest point while writing. Dialogue and action were my strengths. My novels were very short and very fast-paced for novels. When I got the critique about it feeling like a movie, I knew where I needed to be. I knew I needed to be a screenwriter.
Q: How do you define success for yourself?
For me, success is being able to write for a living. I don’t have to be famous or become extremely rich. If I can make a comfortable living to be able to support my family without having stress about money all the time, I’d consider myself successful as a screenwriter. I just want to be able to do what I love and have the ability to spend quality time with my wife and kids and give them a modest, comfortable life without worry and stress over finances.
Q: Give us a typical day in your life:
When do you get up?
Most days, I’m up at around 8am. That’s when my three-year-old wakes me up asking for a cup with milk. I tell you, waking up from a night of deep sleep to a three-year-old just standing there staring at you is one of the creepiest things ever.
What do you do during the day?
Most days, I work at my day job. When I’m not there, I spend my time writing and having fun with my family.
What do you do at night?
That’s my relaxation time. I spend quality time with my wife after the kids go to bed and we watch our television shows.
How do you define a successful day?
A successful day is one where I accomplish something. Be it hitting my goals at my day job for the day, making progress on a script, or just getting things done around the house.
Q: What’s been the most important skill you've developed on your path to screenwriting?
The most important skill I’ve developed is probably taking notes and criticism. It’s usually meant to be productive and help me improve. I also had to learn how to determine what is a good actionable note and what isn’t.
Q: What’s been the greatest challenge in your writing so far?
The greatest challenges have been just finding the time to write and getting my work in front of the right people. When you don’t already have connections in the industry, one of the most difficult steps is just getting that foot in the door. Even getting a literary agent to take a pass at your work can prove to be quite the obstacle.
Q: What’s been the greatest reward in the choices you've made?
The greatest reward so far is feeling like I am doing something with my life. I may still rely on my day job right now, but I’m also doing something I love.
Q: What do you want to learn from a community of your peers?
I want to learn the best way to get my work in front of an agent or manager. I could write all day every day, but if I don’t have someone helping me to get my work seen, it’s nothing more than a hobby.