Dominique Holmes won Diverse Voices with her powerful TV-pilot BOG WALK and recently took the next major step in her career by signing with Heroes and Villains Entertainment. Her winning script is about a Jamaican preacher who uses his influence over his congregation to build a criminal empire in order to secure the futures of his two teenaged daughters. The powerful character piece shows that sometimes the struggle to survive can undermine the ability to succeed. She won over the 4 rounds of judges and the jury to win this honor. Here's some insight into her writing, what she's learned, and where she's going next.
What’s the most important or unique part of your writing process?
I always seem to find solutions to script problems when I’m away from the desk. Often it comes from straight up eavesdropping. I don’t take public transport to get places. I take it to creep on strangers. I always have several notebooks on me. I sketch, record conversations, jot down impressions of characters. Later, going through those notebooks, it always surprises me how much ends up making it into my work. Another thing that’s important is constant reading. If I’m working on a script, I’ll read plays, screenplays, novels – all at the same time. I like to have several narratives in my head at once.
How do you pick the stories that you ultimately write?
The stories that make it to script are generally the ones that allow me to explore questions that frustrate me because I don’t have the answers. Bog Walk is my first attempt at a Jamaican story. I grew up in Kingston, but it took living in Singapore for two years before I could find a way to write about home.
Why do you feel that diversity in entertainment is important?
In TV, a diverse room of writers produces richer content. Work generated by a wide range of perspectives is always more surprising, moving and true.
What’s the best thing you've learned?
My schizophrenic auntie taught me how to punch people. As screenwriting goes, an instructor advised me to dedicate two or three years to learning structure. Write constantly until it’s in your bones. Then later you can find ways to subvert it.
Do you have any favorite screenwriters?
Billy Wilder. I love that an Austrian filmmaker was behind Some Like it Hot, Sunset Boulevard, Ace in the Hole…The Seven Year Itch! He had such a sharp eye because he wrote about Americans from an outsider’s perspective. Plus, I’ve seen Sunset Boulevard over a dozen times, but somehow it always feels new.
What did your writing look like 5 years ago and what will your writing look like 5 years from now?
Five years ago I was trying very hard to write screenplays without really understanding what made them work. I wasted a lot of time describing images when I should have been developing characters. Five years from now? I hope to be better.
Where were you when you found out that you had won Diverse Voices?
I was getting some writing done in the lobby of Hotel Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica. If you like ocean views, I recommend it!