In the Spotlight: Seth Nelson


This is Seth Nelson...


Mini-Bio:

I’m not a screenwriter by trade…not yet. I’m just a hobby writer with careers in manufacturing, engineering, sales, communications, vending, merchandising and more.


I was born and raised in Waupaca, Wisconsin. After high school I attended the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie where I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Technology. I now reside in Minneapolis, Minnesota with my beautiful wife Laura and two kids Inga (15) and Charlie (11) where I own and operate a small vending machine company Healthier 4U-Minneapolis.


I developed a passion for screenwriting from writing songs, creating characters, and performing stand-up comedy. With a mix of family stories and personal experiences, I sparked the idea for GaryTown almost overnight. When a popular podcaster moves back to his rural hometown and discovers his job-hopping childhood friend is living a double life, he must decide whether to go along with the prank, or expose the truth in an effort to boost his career. What I consider my brand of comedy “Welcome to GaryTown” was most recently a Semifinalist in the Filmmatic Comedy Screenplay Awards Season 6. Sure to be successful in social media, film, television, and radio.

Q: How did you stumble upon screenwriting?

A: I originally had a good idea for a television show and podcast, but before I could build that, I had to be a good writer. In order to become a good writer, I needed to read stories, scripts and how to books. After my first draft I came across Geoffrey’s book “The Guide For Every Screenwriter.” I hired him, and he convinced me to re-write it as a feature film. Stubborn at first and almost a year later, my second draft was a semifinalist.


Q: Who/what inspired you into taking this path?

A: The story itself inspired me, but my grandfather LaVerne “Wormy” Nelson was a writer and editor for the Waupaca County Post. He passed away when I was just five years old, but my grandmother saved most of his work and WWII letters in his old army chest. Since then my dad transferred his work to compact disks for all the grandkids to view. I loved reading his column “Coffee Break” and recognized a similar writing style to my own. I used that as fuel to write my first feature.


Q: Who was the first person who believed in you? G.

A: My mom and dad always believed in me, but as it pertains to writing probably my cousin Matt Omernick and friend Eric Burke. They loved the idea from the start and are intricate pieces in crafting GaryTown. From reading re-writes, giving feedback, and building a pitch deck, those guys were always willing to help—Much love. After my first draft, I found the courage to join a creative writing group where I met Jeffrey Vavra, a talented horror writer. Unlike anything I would write, I took interest in his work as he did mine. Jeff gave me confidence and a different view on writing I wasn’t originally comfortable with. We continue to share stories today. I recently converted one of his short stories to a screenplay. A fun exercise to show my adaptation to his work. He much appreciated it.

 

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Q: When was the moment you knew you wanted to be a screenwriter?

A: I started this project in May 2019 by collecting “Gary stories” from family and friends, but the pandemic forced me to put the pen to paper. The covid chaos created lots of unknowns, including my business. My vending machine company took a big hit, and I’m still recovering. I’m fortunate to have found other work, and have a loving, working wife.


Q: How do you define success for yourself?

A: One thing is consistent in any career—people like to be rewarded for their efforts. That’s what keeps them going. I’m a small fish swimming in a big pond and I don’t know any other fish. At least that’s what it feels like. I’m not sure where this will take me, but the little wins continue to push me forward. Like a glowing review from a stranger, a semifinalist in a contest, a feature “In the Spotlight”, or an extra like on social media.


Q: Give us a typical day in your life.

A: I’m usually in bed by midnight and up by 8am. I try to get a 20 to 30 minute workout in a few days a week before my son gets on the bus at 9am. After that I grab some coffee and a light breakfast. My favorite is bacon, eggs and avocado over toast. A typical day is filling vending machines and merchandising at local Target stores. I try to get home mid afternoon and do some writing before everyone gets home. Later, I enjoy a couple cold beers and peanuts while I watch a sitcom or movie with my wife. If I’m deep in a story, I will write late into the night. I enjoy playing golf and coaching youth sports. A couple days a week I play competitive foosball. In late October I traveled to Lansing, Michigan and won the Michigan State Championship in beginner singles and doubles.


Q: What’s been the most important skill you've developed on your path to screenwriting?

A: Structure of a story. I never considered myself a screenwriter, just a good storyteller. Geoffrey’s simple structure and short story “A Mighty Quest” continues to be a reference as I lay out stories. Once I applied that to my routine, the writing became easier, and the stories began to flow. I can’t wait to share them with you.


Q: What’s been the greatest challenge in your writing so far?

A: Patience. Writing brings a roller coaster of emotion. Is my writing any good? Am I wasting my time? I just keep writing. My first draft was rushed, and for no good reason. I was just excited. Screenplays are like a fine wine, they get better with time. I’m glad I learned the skills to develop the characters and storyline.


Q: What’s been the greatest reward in the choices you've made?

A: Writing brings me joy, and being a semifinalist was a big moral boost. I rode that high for a couple days, but what I love most is when my kids come home and say “Dad, I have a great idea for GaryTown!” That’s the greatest reward I could ask for, having my kids take interest in my stories.


Q: What do you want to learn from a community of your peers?

A: The process of the query. What works? I’m searching for someone to fall in love with my story. How do I find them? How do I know the relationship is right? I’m ready to pitch. I just need to find my audience. #garytown


Screenwriting Resources

  1. The Successful Screenwriter Podcast

  2. Screenwriting Courses

  3. Recommended Books

  4. Free Hollywood Screenplays to download

  5. Free Instructional Videos

Sponsors

  1. The Successful Screenwriter Podcast - (Episodes)

  2. The Guide For Every Screenwriter - (Paperback)

  3. We Fix Your Script - (Free Consultation)

  4. InkTip - (List your script)

  5. International Screenwriting Association - (ISA Connect)

  6. WriterDuet - (Screenwriting Software)

  7. Bulletproof Screenwriting - (Script Coverage)

  8. Indie Film Hustle Academy - (Screenwriting Courses)

  9. Krista Keller Talent - (Management)

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