Interview - Screenwriter Edward Pannozzo

Edward Pannozzo won the Breaking Walls Thriller Screenplay competition with his contained thriller spec, BARN WOOD, about a young woman who wakes up in a strange barn with her hands nailed to a plank of wood, and must summon all of her strength and ingenuity to fight off religious fanatics before she and other captives are sacrificed in a deranged family ritual.

We spoke briefly with Edward about his well-written contrained thriller and his background as a screenwriter.

How did you first become interested in a career in screenwriting?
A lifelong movie fan, I was going to be a screenwriter or Ninja Assassin. I'm naturally pretty clumsy, so...

Who or what inspired you to write this particular story?
I wanted the challenge of writing a "contained" thriller. It started with the main character's very unique type of personal "confinement", which helped answer "why are we only in this one location?"
Once the environment was set, the characters had a unique sandbox to play in.
"Barn Wood" is told from Bo's POV. We're stuck with her. There is no cutting away to other things happening that Bo can't see. We're laser focused on her, her struggle, her choices. I love writing smart, strong, tough female characters. They don't take shit from anyone. My previous script "Blade & Bone" (semifinalist Austin Film Festival last year), a trafficking thriller, also has a "take-no-prisoners" female lead. I guess I want to give young female audiences strong role models.

What movies or filmmakers would you consider your greatest influences as a screenwriter?
Crime thrillers have always been a favorite genre. Fincher, Tarantino, Fuqua are big influences. Recent contained thrillers have elevated the game. "The Outfit" is a master class, a new favorite.

How much planning and outlining went into your process of writing this script?
There was a month of prep/outlining, a month for the first draft, and a few weeks of rewrites. It came together nicely.

What advice would you give to aspiring screenwriters who are working their first script?
Write the script you want to write; the movie you want to see. You are not beholden to anyone at this point. Enjoy the freedom to create and make bold choices. Also, let's not think of rewrites as fixing what's wrong. Rewrites can be making weak parts strong, and strong parts bulletproof.

A big thanks to Edward for his time and congratulations on winning with a very strong thriller spec!

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