In the Spotlight: Wes Imlay
Updated: Oct 9, 2018
Learning about Wes has been a real pleasure. Wes has a rare insight into his skill as a writer, has a constant craving to improve his craft, and a humility about his character that I believe will lead him to a career full of successes. Like so many of us, his path started out quite accidentally. Now he's had a few shorts made and he's got the bug. All while maintaining the incredibly difficult balance of a full time job, a family, and his passion for screenwriting.
Mini-Bio: I was born July 4, 1979 in Macon, Georgia, I have always been proud to say that I was from Jones County. After a year and a half of marriage I moved down to Orlando, Florida and began to build a new life here. In the years since I’ve managed to get in my share of travelling and adventure. My first serious foray into the written word was at Macon State where I not only got involved in the world of theatre but I also served as the Entertainment Editor for the campus paper, The Macon State Matrix.
On a more personal level, I’ve been married to my wife Genesis for thirteen years. We have two boys, Chad and Caleb, and they do their part to make sure that my life is never boring.
How did you stumble upon screenwriting?
When I moved down to the Orlando area back in 2007 I joined a dinner show group. At the time I was also writing fan fiction, something that helped hone my ability to tell a story. When the dinner show group disbanded I realized I had two options. I could either wait for work to come or I could write my own material and produce it myself. I sat down and began the painstaking process of crafting my first script. When I made friends in the Orlando Independent Filmmakers group I was encouraged to take my dinner show script and adapt it into a screenplay. That would be when I really caught the screenwriting bug and it’s been an art I’ve worked at developing ever since.
Who/what inspired you into taking this path?
I’ve always had a creative spark as far back as I can remember. Whether it was creating my own narratives with my action figures as a kid, writing songs as a teenager, or writing news articles as a Journalism major in college. I’ve just had this love of creating, and it’s manifested itself in my life in a multitude of ways. Screen writing, though, has provided such a unique way to channel that energy and use it in a way that is incredible to witness.
My parents have always believed in me and have. They’ve encouraged me to follow my passions. Regardless of whether it was singing, acting, or writing they pushed me to chase my dreams so even if I failed I could at least say I tried.
When it comes to screenwriting I also need to give credit to my friends Grant Foster and Ingrid Ginel. They have been supportive in every way possible and have gone above in beyond in providing both feedback and opportunities to produce my work. Adrian Blade from Blade World Films has also been willing to take time from his busy filming schedule to read my work and provide feedback on ways that could I could improve upon it.
What was the moment you knew you wanted to be a screenwriter?
It was during rehearsals for my stage play ‘Weddings Can Be Fatal’ that I saw my words on page being brought to life by the actors I had cast. The feeling of joy I felt was beyond words and when I wrote my short film ‘Mind of a Killer’ the feeling was the same. As much as I’ve enjoyed being an actor, it’s been an even greater joy to create characters and crafting my own stories.
How do you define success for yourself?
For me success would be the chance to see my scripts brought to life and produced, whether by me or by a production company. I would like to see the path I’m on providing not only a chance for personal and commercial success but to also do something to give back to the acting and film community here in Florida. I have had the pleasure to meet so many talented actors and writers here, and to help add positively to the film community here would be my own personal way of thanking the people here for being so welcoming to a new guy and allowing me.
Give us a typical day in your life.
If it’s a work day I’m usually doing everything I can to make it to the urgent care clinic I work at. Even there, I’m thinking about my scripts whenever I have some downtime. I have both Celtx and Final Draft on my phone and tablet so when I get a break I can sit down and start typing away. Once I’m home after a twelve-hour day I usually watch tv to unwind, or I’ll break out an audiobook or audio drama instead.
Days when I’m off are different, I’ll wake up and get breakfast out of the way first. I’ll sit down in my office with my laptop and start to work on either outlining future stories or add material to the ones I’ve already started on. I also take time to do my research on the details I need to get right or at least close enough to right for my scripts. In between all of this I make sure that I find time for things such as the gym but also time to spend with my family. With a wife and two boys it’s a matter of finding that time between family and working on my scripts. If I can accomplish even a little of that during the day then I consider it a success.
I’m a night owl, always have been, but between work and family there are times when I must make myself get out of bed. However, I’m the type that once I’m awake I don’t go back to sleep unless I’m exhausted. If it’s a day that I’m off work I’m usually up around eight o’clock in the morning. Otherwise, I’m up by six.
If it’s a work day you’ll find me on the job at my computer or if it’s a day off I’ll either be writing or researching or perhaps doing something with the wife. It varies day by day.
I’m all about mixing it up, I do have my go-to items and restaurants but I’ve always been the type of person who likes to try culinary items and dishes. Even with the same restaurants that I go to I make it a point to try something different on the menu unless I’m just craving one item.
What’s been the most important skill you've developed on your path to screenwriting?
The need to properly revise and edit my material thoroughly. I admit I did have an editor who pointed out my grammatical mistakes when I was writing fan fiction, but rarely would I go back and edit the story itself. Now as a screenwriter I’ve learned the need to not only edit but to go back over what I write to make sure that it fits the story and makes sense in general. I’ve made so many discoveries with the material I’ve written, and it’s helped to make my writing skills better and my stories even stronger.
What’s been your greatest challenge in your writing so far?
I’ll admit, in the past I’ve been guilty of using clichés and on-the-nose dialogue in my writing. It’s something I’m working on and getting better at every day. I’m grateful whenever someone points it out to me because I know I can do so much better with crafting my dialogue.
What’s been your greatest reward in the choices you've made?
I’ve been allowed the opportunity to not only meet some great people along the way, but I’ve also had the chance to get some life stories and have some very memorable experiences as well. Apart from that, I’ve had the chance to see stories I’ve created come to life right in front of me and I can tell you that it is such an amazing feeling and it’s a blessing to be able to witness it.
What do you want to learn from a community of your peers?
More ways to improve on my writing, how to make my scripts stronger, and how to grow as a writer.
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