Joey Horist: Screenwriter
Meeting the Rising Writer No. 24
Today, our featured writer, Joseph Horist, aka Joey Horist, has agreed to a virtual interview where he will share some insight into the world of screenwriting. Joey’s inspiration draws from movies, video games and his own reading. He loves getting lost in different worlds and enjoys the relaxation he earns by doing so.
Joey is also a screenwriter, and he has one screenplay he is trying to get filmed but since it’s still in the beginning stages, he is unable to disclose the information.
Thank you, Joey, for agreeing to an interview today.
When did you start writing?
I only truly took to writing around a few years ago. I’d guess around 2009/2010. I had gotten sick with something called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)m and I had to stop school for a while and I couldn’t get out of bed very much. One day I got tired of sitting around doing nothing and I started typing on my laptop, and the rest is history.
What inspires your writing?
I typically get inspired from action movies. A lot of what I write has an action element in it somehow. The James Bond films heavily inspire me. When I was a young boy, I really wanted to be a spy, plus I guess I just always liked the idea that one man, with the proper tools, can really make a difference in the world.
What are you currently working on? How did you begin working on it?
Right now, I am actually working on one of my first screenplays. I’ve written short stories and stuff before, but film and television is my true passion. I have this basic scriptwriting software on my laptop, and I’ve been trying to learn how it works and how to format a script properly. It’s a different kind of writing style compared to books or short stories. One script I recently finished up working on is being turned into a short film, and while I’ve been getting that made I have been working on something else to continue sharpening my skills. The current script I am working on involves a police detective who owns a seemingly never-ending amount of cats. It was originally a writing prompt that I had in a writing class that I took a couple of years ago, and I recently discovered some old rough drafts and figured I would take it and see how well it transformed into a screenplay.
Give us insight to your main character.
The main character in the short screenplay I am working on right now (The police detective with all the cats) is named John Hoffman. He has been a detective for some years now, he’s a bit of a legend (in his own mind). Most of the cases he has actually worked on have been closed by sheer luck. He’s generally a nice guy but unintentionally comes off as a jerk at times. His obsession with cats has left him extremely knowledgeable on all things feline, but his ownership of so many of them typically gets in the way of his relationships with people.
How long have you been scriptwriting?
Not very long actually. I’m only currently in the middle of writing my second short script. For the longest time I was just writing short stories. I figured that would at least help me practice building a plot and character development. It wasn’t until recently when I discovered a free scriptwriting software that I really started screenwriting. Gradually, I’m trying to transition and write more and more that way.
What has been the most interesting difference between scriptwriting and novel writing?
In novel writing, I feel that you spend much more time describing the appearances of everything, whereas in screenwriting you spend a lot more time describing emotions. When you’re making a movie, the scenery will be shown, so it’s incredibly important that you properly instruct your actors on how to behave in different situations.
What would you tell a new writer interested in scriptwriting?
I’d tell them good luck, godspeed, and above all else don’t psyche yourself out. The biggest mistake you can make is being too overly critical of yourself; if you do that nothing gets done.
When you write a screenplay, how do you go about getting it filmed?
Well, in my particular case it started out with a chance meeting. One night while out to dinner, I happened to run into someone from my area who does low budget independent films. We got to talking and he gave me his business card and what not and when my health allowed it, I would go and help him out on different projects he was working on. After some time doing that, he basically kinda said, “So you’re a writer, what have you written?” I showed him some different ideas I had written down and he helped me learn the basics of formatting a script, and after hard work and lots of editing, here I am now. All thanks to a chance encounter. That was just my particular experience though, it’s not like you have to win the lottery to get your chance! Just do lots of networking and one day you’ll meet the right people and just be prepared to put in the work, and good things will happen.
What software do you use?
I use Celtx. On my old laptop, I used to have Final Draft, but that laptop got a virus and died a slow, painful death and when I got my new one, I needed to find a new program because I didn’t have the disc for Final Draft anymore. When you’re working on a budget of almost zero dollars you have to improvise any way you can!
What/who are your favorite or most reliable support groups?
The Facebook group, Authors’ Tale ”has actually been a really great support group. Although the group doesn’t typically deal with screenplays, I can always count on good advice for advancing my storylines in general. Occasionally, if I do write a short story, I always know I will get excellent feedback.
What is the biggest mistake you think you make while writing? How do you overcome it?
My biggest mistake that I think I make is just being overly critical of my own work. I think that’s a mistake most eager writers make. To overcome it, I try to remind myself that I am just starting out and it’s okay to make mistakes. Even Hemingway had to learn the alphabet one time.
What do you hope to achieve with your writing?
Well, I love movies. I’d love to one day write screenplays professionally. If I could create characters and tell stories that people could relate to and enjoy, then I would be happy. Movies have always been a wonderful escape from reality for me and I would like to help other people escape as well.
What books or writing projects have you completed/published in the past?
I recently finished one tiny script and it is currently being developed into a short film. Unfortunately, I don’t have much to share right now because it is still in development.
What genre do you enjoy most, and what draws you to the genre you write?
I’ve always really enjoyed the spy genre. Lately, I’m trying to expand my horizons and branch out, but typically a lot of my characters, if not spies themselves, do have dangerous professions, such as a policeman or a soldier or something like that.
Do you research your work? If so, what have you learned through your research?
Anything that I write I always try to thoroughly research it. I’ve learned that sometimes being a writer involves more researching than anything else.
Have you ever worked with a writer on a project?
The company that is producing my short film, Cheevies Film Productions, has a few other film projects going on and I have collaborated with other screenwriters before on their projects.
Are you reading any books right now? If so, what are you reading? If not, why?
I just recently finished Metal Gear Solid and I am currently in the middle of Metal Gear Solid 2. The books are based off of the hit video games, which I am a huge fan of. It’s very interesting to me to see the same story in two different forms of media. I like to pick out the subtle differences. Plus, since I have already played the games, the setting stands out in my mind easily.
Do you have any favorite books? Favorite motivational quotes?
Favorite books? As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to appreciate many different ones for many different qualities. Favorite quotes? Given my health issues, there is one that just comes to my mind right now: “Never give up. Fight until the end. Always believe you will succeed, even when the odds are against you.” – Solid Snake in Metal Gear 2 (1990)
What advice would you give your younger self?
I’d probably tell myself to start writing sooner!
Do you have any advice you’d like to give other writers?
When you have a story inside of you that needs to be told, don’t be afraid to let it out.
BONUS QUESTION: If you were to write yourself as a character in your current screenplay, who would you be and what would your purpose be?
If I were to be in my current screenplay, I suppose I’d be the main character. As human beings, I think we all have a tendency to think of ourselves as the most important person in the room, albeit subconsciously. I forgot the psychology term for that. I always thought it would be cool to be a detective or have some kind of job in law enforcement.
How can readers and fellow writers discover more about you and your work?