Interview - Screenwriter Dennis Wasitis

Dennis Wasitis is the writer of the thriller screenplay, THE ISOLATED PAWN, a well-crafted story about an apathetic loner with a tragic past who discovers that he's the son of Lee Harvey Oswald and sets out to find his missing mother but ends up exposing the truth behind the John F. Kennedy assassination.

Dennis' script rose to the top of the thriller competition, setting itself apart from many very well-written stories with naturalistic dialogue and an engaging, professional narrative style.

We spoke a little with Dennis about THE ISOLATED PAWN and his background as a screenwriter.

Your writing style is very entertaining and engaging. How did you first become interested in a career in screenwriting?
So, I grew up in Indiana where only two things mattered. Basketball and basketball. In my last semester at Indiana University I took a correspondence course in film criticism. It was fascinating. It opened my eyes to the filmmaking process. After that class, I took a job as a manager at a Blockbuster video store so I could study movies. The job didn't last long and ended when we were robbed at gunpoint. In broad daylight. On Thanksgiving. But, my love for movies never left me. And twenty short years later, after a semi-successful career as a lawyer, I wrote "The Isolated Pawn."

THE ISOLATED PAWN is a script with a great hook that blends fiction with historical events. Who or what inspired you to write this particular story?
I love fiction that is intertwined with real historical events. I appreciate movies that take a stab at the big questions. Even if it's a swing and miss. I gravitate to stories about fate, destiny and free will. Jungian stuff. Archetypes. I like to see a protagonist stare into the eternal mirror and pose questions. I wanted to explore some of these ideas against ahistorical backdrop. I wanted to stir up some raw emotions in an audience so I chose Lee Harvey Oswald as a vessel to do that.

Your script conveys a very strong sense of on-screen storytelling. Are there any particular movies or filmmakers you would consider your greatest influences as a screenwriter?
My favorites are 21 grams, Donnie Darko, Signs, Jacob's ladder, Fight Club, Glengarry Glen Ross, Full Metal Jacket, and the Big Chill. My current favorite is Pitch Perfect. I have no idea why.

This is a screenplay that shows an excellent grasp of the mechanics of a screenplay. What resources would you consider integral to your development as a screenwriter?
There are many. Before starting to write, I read many, many books about the JFK assassination. Total immersion. Screenwriter's University helped me put my thoughts into action. Final Draft showed me that formatting a screenplay could be easy. "Stealing Fire from the Gods" by James Bonnet helped me develop themes and archetypes. Several books by William C. Martell helped with dialogue. "Story Maps" by Daniel P. Calvisi helped with rewrites.

What advice would you give to aspiring screenwriters who are working their first script?
Believe in yourself. Just push through and finish a first draft. No matter what. Ignore any inner criticism, set a deadline and do it. Once you have the core of an idea, the rest will come when you least expect it. I threw out 90% of my first draft of "The Isolated Pawn," and 50% of my second. Just keep at it.

A big thanks to Dennis for his time and congratulations on the win.

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