Short Script Reading: ENGINEEMBRYO by Jon Sturgess (plus interview)

Watch the Winning Performance Reading of ENGINEEMBRYO:


NARRATOR – Sean Ballantyne
Wife – Victoria Kucher
Husband – Adam Martignetti
Doctor – Allan Brunet

Interview with screenwriter John Sturgess:

1. What is your screenplay about?

“Engineembryo” is about a pregnant woman and her husband deciding if they want a doctor to fix their baby’s genetic code when they learn the baby will not be funny.

2. Why should this script be made into a movie?

The script should be made into a movie because it is a very humorous and original take on genetic engineering. It brings a sense of comic relief to a subject that sometimes prompts solemnity and even discomfort.

3. How long have you been writing stories?

I have been writing screenplays, novels, short stories, and poems as a pastime for 15 years. However, for the past year, I have been making an earnest effort to break into the film industry with high quality short and feature screenplays.

4. What movie have you seen the most in your life?

The movie I have seen the most in my life is probably “Taxi Driver”. At one point in college, I watched it every night for three weeks straight. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I see a lot of myself in Travis Bickle.

5. What artists would you love to work with?

So many actors inspire my work, but a few stand out from the rest. I love Daniel Day-Lewis, Joaquin Phoenix, Marion Cotillard, and Olivia Cooke. And while I’m daydreaming, I might as well hire myself onto a Wes Anderson production so I could learn more about directing from him.

6. How many stories/screenplays have you written?

I’ve finished one feature screenplay, one comedy pilot, and seven short screenplays. I also have about ten features and pilots in the works.

7. What motivated you to write this screenplay?

I watched a 20/20 segment about the dark side of genetic engineering. Doctors discussed the possibility of parents choosing the traits, such as hair color and height, they want their children to have, which led to a discussion of Hitler’s eugenics and whether or not the practice of genetic engineering was morally acceptable. I thought it would be funny to show the more ridiculous side of genetic engineering, such as deciding whether one’s child should like regular Cheerios more than Honey Nut Cheerios or go through a dreadlocks phase.

8. Describe your process; do you have a set routine, method for writing?

When I write, I give myself a rough outline from the beginning to the end of a story. Then I set about making each point in the outline into a scene in a screenplay. I don’t work from beginning to end. I jump around and go back and forth. Some scenes are reworked 15 times before others are ever started. I also go from project to project, which is why I have so many unfinished screenplays. It’s all pretty chaotic.

9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I am an artist as well as a writer. I draw realistic portraits in pencil and have developed a unique style of shading. I am also passionate about football, pretty ladies, and pizza.

10. What influenced you to enter the WILDsound Festival?

I entered the WILDsound Festival to get some feedback on my work. All writers believe they are great writers, but I wanted someone else to give me some assurance to know that I wasn’t wasting my time in this field. I also hoped I might get some recognition from the festival, which could help in promoting myself as a screenwriter.

11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

Keep writing. Don’t expect your first screenplay to launch you to fortune and fame. Writing takes a ridiculous amount of time and practice, and rejection lurks around every corner. But you should be stubborn enough to continue on your path, and you’ll start seeing some of those rejections turn into acceptances. Then you don’t have to cry yourself to sleep anymore!

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