For writer LeLe Park, 2020 wasn’t exactly the worst year. She won the Scriptation Showcase Grand Prize, won and placed in a myriad of other prestigious script contests, and was signed by VERVE Talent & Literary Agency. We sat down with LeLe (virtually, of course) to talk about her writing process, how that includes Scriptation, and what it was like to get a literary agent.

GETTING A LITERARY AGENT

When did you start writing? Who or what are your inspirations?

I started writing like I think many young people do, when you have all that teenage angst, with poetry. I thought Edgar Allen Poe gets me and then it evolved into, you know, what are you going to do with this? Are you really going to be a poet with stickers on your binder or are you going to do something? And, like many people, I thought I would do nothing with it and settled pretty well into day-job life. But, when you do have a passion and you’re bombarded with the thing you love most all around you, whether it’s tv or film, the longing continues.

I started to pick up screenwriting a few years ago. I had studied screenwriting in film school at Columbia College Chicago. I did not get good grades. But, the good news was my professor was really honest and said, “Look if you want to be a screenwriter, it’s so collaborative and there’s so much input that no one is looking for a piece of perfection, people are looking for a voice.”

You can learn all the granular rules, like how to indent or what to bold, but you need to focus on creating characters and a voice that really resembles something that creates a connective tissue to people on the other side. You have a voice, you want to apply it. You have an art, you want to apply it. You hope that the combination of your hopes and dreams and the things you’re putting on the page resonates with one person that thinks the word “yes.”

Because, it’s so subjective. It’s painfully subjective. I had someone tell me “Bliss Killer” is really good, but do you have something that’s about cooking and like the Traveling Pants of Sisterhood kinda thing? But, someone else who read The Bliss Killer said it was their favorite thing they’ve read. It’s subjective. So, you have to believe in your voice a little bit.

Download Scriptation to read LeLe’s award-winning script The Bliss Killer today!

HOW TO GET A LITERARY AGENT

What is your writing process like? Has that changed during the pandemic and how do you stay motivated?

The truth is that I’m a complete, nerdy loser and the pandemic did not impact my process because all it taught me is that I don’t ever leave the house to begin with. So, what you call pandemic, I call normal writing life (laughs).

But, generally, I start with research to make sure that my idea even makes sense and that I’m still inspired to write the story. And, that I can navigate to the end with maintaining that level of enthusiasm and passion.

But like actual day-to-day process, I think there’s a lot of unfortunate truths that starts off with, “I am so going to write today” and then all of a sudden it’s like, “Is it 4 in the morning and have I been on YouTube this whole time?”

SCREENWRITER LITERARY AGENT

In a different interview, you mentioned that you have kind of crazy writing hours, can you elaborate on that?

Yeah I don’t have the best lifestyle habits. I start at 9[pm], if I can start at 8:45, I will, and then I’ll go on till 4[am] although I kind of skimmed it down in the interview. I think where I am right now, because of the pandemic, it’s actually been closer to 5:30, in the morning, because I don’t have to commute to work right now. So I can kind of roll out of bed, well, actually I roll out of bed at 7:45 to make sure my kid is sitting in front of his computer for class and then I go back to sleep. And then, I have my alarm set for literally the ugliest time, 9:07AM.

HOW TO GET A LITERARY AGENT

I feel like you really made the best out of the pandemic because you’ve maximized your writing time.

Oh yeah, I’ve definitely maximized it. Because I’m not commuting, these are screenwriting hours for me, but they’re also kitchen cleaning hours for me. I’m so grateful though because – the pandemic, it’s a difficult time and, for me, it has put a spotlight on the idea that I’m so lucky to be able to do this right now.

In the beginning of a pandemic, I was actually not writing at all. I think I had like an emotional arrested development with everything that was happening and I still kind of sometimes can’t believe it.

Then I reached out to one of my mentors and I was like, “Isn’t the pandemic the worst? I’m sure you’re like me right now on the computer just looking at the blinking cursor.” And he goes, “No, I just finished a pilot and now I’m working on my feature and I just pitched something to Sony two days ago.”

And as soon as he said that, I was like, “Oh, just kidding, me too. Same page. Totally.” As soon as I hung up and I was immediately on my keyboard like, “All right, I need to catch up to that guy.”

I have found that leaning on other writers and knowing what they have in the pipeline has been a great motivating factor for me to say: no excuses. I find so much inspiration in other writers and in understanding their curating of projects and I just think: I need to get off my ass and do it too.

My goal has been, during the pandemic, to churn out as much polished content as I can, so when we come out of the pandemic, I’ll be loaded

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SIGNING WITH A LITERARY AGENT

Let’s talk about Verve. Congratulations! What was it like getting a literary agent?

It was emotional. I was standing in my kitchen and I was burning the Hello Fresh that we had and the onions were literally burning and I was like, “Everything is so wrong.” I was wearing one shoe, my kid had the other one saying he was going to make a boat with it.

And, the call came, it was a number I didn’t recognize, and a guy says, “Can you please hold for-” and I was like “Oh my god, hold for what?!” They connected me to my agent and he was just like, “How’s the weather?” and I was like, “What?”

It was like waiting for a guy to dump me and then finally he just said, ”We’ve decided to sign you.”

And he was just really excited and he had all this enthusiasm and belief that I think I kind of reserved for the pit of my stomach. I didn’t know if it was real – to be able to feel that assurance for your writing, your craft. And then to hear someone say they were excited too, it’s great.

As soon as we hung up, I grabbed my kids – sorry it always makes me cry – and they were looking at me a little worried because I had tears in my eyes and dinner was, of course, still burning. And I just hugged them and the tears just kept coming down. It just finally felt like I got over that bump that feels like you’ll never get over.

To be told I was not only going to be signed, but that I was also going to get this great team, it’s emotional. It was like all of a sudden, I had reached a goal that I didn’t even know was achievable and that I think, maybe, I thought was out of reach even for myself.

It still kind of feels like a dream, sort of like it hasn’t really hit me yet. I definitely have imposter syndrome, but I’m so grateful. I am just so grateful to see my kids’ faces when they realized the news was so good. I mean my six-year-old was so excited for me. He said he wanted to tell everyone he knew, which I mean, is only like four people… and I’m one of them (laughs).

LITERARY AGENTS FOR SCREENWRITERS

Why did you submit to Scriptation Showcase?

So I have to tell you something about Scriptation, but not just because this is a Scriptation thing. First of all, the software platform is so cool. I actually was on a call with my friend Emile, shout-out to you Emile! He’s such a good director. I told him you’ve got to check this thing out. It is so cool. Like the fact that dialogue can move almost like a cue card. There’s so much going with the app. Sorry, I just got so excited.

The reason I was interested in Scriptation was, well, you know there’s Final Draft. It’s a great software and they have a great competition. But, when I looked it up the reviews for Scriptation and what it was coming up to be, as far as I’m concerned, it’s the new, better thing, basically.

When you’ve already done pretty okay with getting like placements or winning some things, you look at how organized and pulled together a script competition or festival is. Like if it seems really clunky or they don’t have it together or if the site’s kind of a mess, you can kind of tell what kind of investment they’re putting in to connect with the writers.

And you could tell, Scriptation Showcase just had it so organized. You guys, your communication was so excellent. You guys have worked so hard to put together such a clean looking platform that is fabulous and I appreciate it.

When I started looking at the people who are using [Scriptation], you guys have an incredible list of people that are utilizing it. These are professional people that make great projects. They’re not going to use something that is clunky.

APPS FOR SCREENWRITERS

Do you use Scriptation in your writing process and, if so, how?

That’s a great question because I actually like to take screenshots of my script and then share it with some of my friends. Because of the way [Scriptation] is formatted so cleanly and because of the way it organizes your notes, it does things in a way that’s more collaborative [than other apps]. The other app, that I won’t mention, feels dated and this feels new and cleaner.

I tend to share things one page at a time, because that’s just how I do things, and it’s great to be able to do that and get notes in Scriptation.

ADVICE FOR GETTING A LITERARY AGENT

What advice would you give other writers either about submitting to festivals or in general?

First of all, any writer that’s maybe feeling like it’s just too hard, I’m going to tell you you’re right. It is too hard. It shouldn’t be this hard to do this thing that we love so much, but it is competitive. I really truly believe that whatever feedback you’re getting that’s negative, whatever feedback you’re getting that’s positive, both sides, take it with a grain of salt. Just believe in your voice and keep pushing through.

You know, I’m doing it as a mom with these kids, working this day job, still volunteering, and screenwriting and churning out content left and right. And if I can do it, as a miserable person, eating Doritos all day – I’m just kidding! But for real, you absolutely can. You have to have the right disposition and accept the fact that people won’t like it, but that doesn’t have to mean anything and that’s just how it goes. It’s a rite of passage, keep going, just keep going.

For anyone that’s wanting advice on how to enter competitions or festivals, well, I don’t win everything, you know?

I think the best I can do is to send you the words of: research it. Make sure it’s legitimate. Look to see if they invest in their writers and their platform, like obviously you guys, do that tremendously. You very much promote and push your writers and that’s awesome. So, look for places that keep it professional and have it on point.

I’ve got to tell you, I am so grateful to platforms like Scriptation. I think you guys provide a fantastic service for writers that are trying to feel their way and in what is a very fickle and very blind situation to be in so I appreciate it.

About LeLe: LeLe Park is a screenwriter. Her original drama pilot “The Bliss Killer” has won/placed in several competitions including Screencraft, Final Draft, Scriptation Showcase, Script Summit, and Shore Scripts. Her short screenplay, “ACHE” has also won/placed in various screenwriting competitions including Austin Film Festival, The Bluecat Screenplay Competition, The Golden Script Competition, Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIFF), and The Richmond. She was the pitch choice at Coverfly, staff pick at ScriptD, a guest speaker at Bucknell University, and moderated Coverfly’s Career Lab. She recently finished her biographical feature script, “Visceral Fatherland”, as well as, her prestige limited series “Night vs Day”. She is represented by VERVE Talent & Literary Agency and Eric Borja at Alldayeveryday.