Interview with Kim Godfrey, winning TV Pilot writer (Eraser)

I joined the ISA a year back and after reading about the competition through their website thought it would be a great opportunity to get some feedback from experienced minds. I found WILDsound’s feedback on my screenplay invaluable.

– Kim Godfrey, on the WILDsound Experience.

Watch the full reading of the TV PILOT “ERASER”

Matthew: What is your TV PILOT Screenplay about?

Kim: Eraser revolves around two psychology students who practice an illegal form of hypnotherapy that allows them to enter the darkest memories of their troubled clientele and erase the sources of trauma. Their ambitions lead them into a violent criminal underworld that seeks to exploit their unique skillset.

Matthew: Why is this a TV show people would love to watch?

Kim: I believe the initial appeal comes from its high concept. But I have tried to construct a complex, multi-layered narrative that becomes more and more satisfying as each chapter unfolds. Tension and the ever-increasing threat of danger has always been what has kept me absorbed in a series and so I have been very aware of this need throughout the development of my own story. I have tried to create a variety of rich, flawed characters that are both exciting and relatable. Making all characters vulnerable to the threat of unexpected death is also something I believe is key to keeping people invested in your story. If they inhabit a world where audience popularity doesn’t dictate their mortality I think we become far more attached to them and their journey.

Matthew: How long have you been writing stories?

Kim: Really only the last three or four years. I knew I wanted to be involved in film and television since I was a child but really only focused on screenwriting during my university years.

Matthew: What movie have you seen the most in your life?

Kim: The Prestige by Christopher Nolan. I don’t think I’ve ever been so absorbed by a films narrative. It’s complex and told from multiple perspectives over several timelines with a twist ending that is satisfying and unexpected. It’s one of those films that becomes more rewarding upon every additional viewing.

Matthew: What artists would you love to work with?

Kim: It’s a toss up between Christopher Nolan and Nicolas Winding Refn. Nolan makes high concept films that appeal equally to both the ‘art’ audience and ‘blockbuster entertainment’ audience. I don’t think anyone else is quite as effective at making intelligent blockbusters. Nicolas Winding Refn on the other hand has such a unique and distinctive style with his films. The stories he tells might seem a little simplistic but he has such a mastery over pacing and camera. His films are dreamy and somewhat surreal in their style. I love it.

Matthew: How many stories/screenplays have you written?

Kim: Eraser is the first script I have properly fleshed out and written multiple drafts for. I wrote a rough draft for a psychological thriller a few years back but didn’t like the result and wanted to really build up my skills and understanding of the craft before having a proper crack at a feature. I have been developing several stories over the past five years that I want to start writing this year though.

Matthew: Ideally, where would you like to be in 5 years?

Kim: I’m moving to the UK in a month to chase up more film and television work, as the industry is far smaller at home in Australia. Ideally I would like to be writing scripts professionally and building towards a career in filmmaking too, hopefully somewhere in the US or UK, but wherever the opportunities are really.

Matthew: Describe your process; do you have a set routine, method for writing?

Kim: Narrative structure is always the key factor of any story I want to create. So I find it essential to create a scene-by-scene outline before I start writing a project. I always need to have a clear beginning and end. I am not someone who just starts writing and let’s the narrative unfold as they go but I admire people who do. I am only now getting in the habit of writing daily, but it really is important to be consistent. I need to get it out on paper or I can’t switch my mind off at night.

Matthew: Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Kim: Music has always been a big passion. Listening to music always helps me set the tone of what I want to write. Although I have zero ability when it comes to playing instruments.

I have been fortunate enough to work a series of very diverse filming jobs over the last six years too. From filming Marlin along the Great Barrier Reef to interviewing Aboriginal Australian Elders in remote Western Australia, I have always loved filmmaking as cinematography and editing are passions I want to build upon too.

Matthew: Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

Kim: I’m probably not qualified to give advice but I have always been mindful of a piece of advice I was given, which was to ‘take every rejection as a stepping stone forward.’ From what I’ve read, what separates those who succeed in this industry from those who don’t is their ability to not only accept failure, but gain motivation from it too. Failure always precedes success so don’t let it stop you. Take on constructive criticism as well, don’t get defensive, it’s the best tool you have for improving your work while trying to get a foot in the door.

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