Interview - Screenwriter Adam Seidel

Adam Seidel wrote the competition winning screenplay, APACHE, about an inept police chief and an afflicted cartel boss who are forced to act when mysterious vandals hijack a drug shipment.

After the competition win, we spoke with Adam about the story and the road toward this win.

How did you get started as a screenwriter?
So I've been a playwright for about 12 years now, which kinda took a sharp left turn into a brick wall when the pandemic hit. This was also around the time when my wife, daughter and I moved from NYC back to Wisconsin where we are originally from. I found myself in this interesting place where all the momentum I'd built with my plays was suddenly gone due to live theatre being shut down, not to mention I was living in a place where being a playwright is the equivalent of being the weird guy who rides through town on his bike wearing a chicken suit. Not that being a screenwriter is any easier or more viable than being a playwright, because in my opinion it's actually exponentially harder, but I had a few rough drafts of feature screenplays I'd written years ago, and looking over them I thought there was something there worth exploring. So I dove in, and here I am! My deep dark secret is that even when I was writing plays exclusively I dreamt of being on the writing staff of an hour TV drama, but I was always too scared to admit it because I thought it was an unattainable dream.

APACHE has a very strong premise. What was your thought process behind plotting this story?
I've always been interested in anti-heroes and desert stories, and this story is a serio-comic about two anti-heroes in the desert. Beyond that I don't know that anything inspired me directly, other than exploring the vulnerabilities of the characters and how those attributes get tested and change over the course of the story. Take the main character- Buddy. He's a drunk and everyone knows he's a drunk but sorta pretends he's not, so he kinda exists in this land of make believe where everything is okay, even though his life is a dumpster fire. And over the course of the story Buddy has to face not only who he is, but how he's perceived. That leads him to having to make a choice- does he collapse or does he stand up and try to become a person he can face when looking in the mirror?

Were there any particular movies that shaped your sense of storytelling?
I've always been drawn to moody Westerns- The Unforgiven, No Country For Old Men, The Master, Siccario, Power of the Dog and even to some extent, The Counselor. There's something in all these movies for me that either because of the humor, the dialogue, the cinematography, they permeate my mind.

I have to say I'm also really into The Irishman lately. I've watched it three times in the past year, and everytime I see more humor, to the point where I actually think the film is a dark comedy in the same glorious way The Sopranos is. It's long, but the writing is so good, and it's always leading somewhere, even if at first we, as the viewer, don't see it.

Some movies need to be watched three or four times to be fully understood. I not only prefer movies like that, I also want to write them.

Some writers prefer to outline and plan intricately before the writing process while others prefer to let the story come out during the writing process. Where would you say you fall in this spectrum?
Like everything I've ever written, play or otherwise, there was no planning and no outlining, which I think makes writing more exciting because I just sit down and start to write a story and it takes me where it wants to go. Sometimes that works out beautifully, and sometimes it leads to the train careening off a cliff. But for me it's the only way I can write- find an idea or a character that interests me, and begin.

I will say that I'm more times than not, completely disgusted with initial drafts. I'll put them in a folder on my computer and let them sit there for years until for whatever reason I'll think of them and go open them up and take a look. Sometimes they are complete crap, but sometimes there's definitely a flame present, and perhaps when I wrote it initially I just didn't see what the story wanted to be or I didn't have the chops to execute. I've definitely learned the hard way that writing is a long game.

As a screenwriter and playwright with experience now, what advice would you give to new writers working their first script?
I'd say, don't overthink it. Also, write for yourself. The things you're writing are coming out for a reason, whether you know it or not. Lastly, and I've made this mistake so many times, don't talk about a script or an idea until it's on paper from start to end. There's nothing more deflating than talking about an idea with a loved one or friend or family member when you don't quite have it worked out, and that person you're talking to doesn't get it or gives you back a muted "oh, neat." It's the death of said idea every time, at least for me. And that's kinda a tragedy cause who knows? I mighta at some point discovered something in one of those ideas that would've been great. But I'll never know because I couldn't keep my trap shut. So keep your trap shut. Don't talk about writing. Just write.

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