Jessica DiGiacinto is the Grand Prize Winner of WISC '15. She's won $1,000 in cash, $2,500 in prizes, a mentorship with Douglas Saylor Jr., and her script is being distributed to over 2 dozen managers and producers. These are her thoughts on writing, little stories in big worlds, and her Grand Prize Winning screenplay.
1.) What inspired you to write GIVING UP THE GHOST? What's your favorite part about the script?
I've always been interested in the unexplained, and in other people's interest in the unexplained. You ask most people if they believe in spirits, psychics, etc., and they'll tell you no. And yet, it's such a huge genre in film and TV. I like the idea that there's something more to life, and I think a lot of people do too. I think that's why horror can be such a great medium for delving into the Big Questions we all have. Giving Up The Ghost was my attempt to tell a small story about family via the backdrop of good and evil – and a lot of blood. (After all, aren't those all the things a regular family Thanksgiving entails?)
My favorite part about the script is what has also made it such a hard sell in some respects – it jumps genres. Life isn't one genre, and so it's always been hard for me to stay in one on paper. The movies and shows I respect the most meld genres, so I just try to follow their lead.
2.) What is your writing process like?
I like to clean my entire apartment, buy a bunch of stuff online, maybe go out for coffee with a friend, watch a bunch of Netflix episodes, and then if there's any time left during the day, I'll write a few pages. Honestly, I can get into a really good rhythm and go for hours, but finding that rhythm is key. If I'm really inspired I can write all day with only periodic Facebook breaks.
3.) What other projects are you working on? What's next?
Right now I'm polishing up an older script and working on a new idea with my brother who's an Improver and comedian in LA.
4.) What kinds of stories do you tell? What kinds of stories are your favorite?
I love telling small stories inside of much larger ones, i.e stories about people dealing with everyday issues inside of worlds that are unpredictable and magical. Scary stories with a deeper meaning are always a favorite of mine, as are the ones that just don't seem interested in fitting into any defined genre. Comedy is great, also. Comedy is essential.
5.) Who most influences your writing?
It's less "who" and more "what." I'm influenced by good writing, whether it's on TV or in an article or on screen. Nothing makes me want to take my writing seriously more than hearing what a talented person can do with words.
6.) What's the best piece advice you've been given about writing?
That heartfelt monologue you love? It's not as good as you think.
7.) Why do you write?
I love connecting to other people, tethering our experiences together, and writing helps me do that. I've had long stretches of time when I've wished with my whole heart I was good at something much more practical and concrete, but I can't escape it. It's in my chemical make-up, I guess.