Pearse Lehane is the fantastic writer of the WeScreenplay Feature winning script, THE LEAN. The script is about a disgraced lawyer who must prevent an innocent man from being convicted of the murder of a police officer in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The world and characters are so vivid and authentic that every reader in the competition was completely drawn into the story. We had a brief interview with Pearse; check it out below.
Your final round judge said of THE LEAN: "[This is] one of the best first Acts I've ever read." In a world where producers will stop reading halfway through, how do you hook audiences off the bat?
“If reading screenplays was more popular than going to the movies, Hollywood wouldn’t exist.” -Robert Towne.
I like this Towne quote because it emphasises two key elements of the aspiring screenwriter’s lot. (1) Screenwriters don’t sell theatre tickets to cinema audiences, they sell scripts to producers, and (2) if you want to learn how to write a screenplay, don’t watch movies, read screenplays.
Composing a first act is hugely daunting. There’s a comprehensive (well worn) checklist and a brutal efficiency of effort required. At the same time, you don’t want it to come across as either mechanical, or maniacal, or even worse – flabby. You’re looking to evoke a feeling in a reader without knowing the precise formula. If the goal is to develop an instinctive sense of how to execute “the difficult middle”, reading spec screenplays that went on to be produced is a no-brainer.
What are the big and little successes you've had with writing?
I’ve written five spec scripts and they’ve all won competitions; “The Lean” has won five. I was a Nicholl semi-finalist (2015). I’ve optioned two scripts, one of which recently received development funding.
Have you ever thought about giving writing up? Why didn't you?
I know nobody is out there “looking for my script”. So, if I give up, I’ll never be produced. Simple as that. When I think about giving up, that’s what I come back to. I can’t guarantee my own success, but I can guarantee failure by not participating.