Watch ORPHAN BLACK “An Alternation of Flights and Perchings” by Jacqueline Bircher
NARRATOR – Sean Ballantyne
SARAH/COSIMA/HELENA/RACHEL – Rachel Rain Packota
ART – Troy Patterson
DELPHINE/GRACE – Maya Woloszyn
ANGIE/MRS. S – Megan Leach
FELIX/MARK – Rob Salerno
THE COLONEL – David Occhipinti
Get to know writer Jacqueline Bircher:
1. What is your ORPHAN BLACK TV Spec screenplay about?
A quick summary: Sarah hatches a reckless gambit to save Helena from the military’s clutches that exposes new, dangerous facets of the clone conspiracy. Cosima and Delphine bring a new clone into the fold in an attempt to cure Cosima’s illness. Felix digs deeper into Mrs. S’s past.
But, what the script is about, on a deeper level, is realizing that you can’t know everything about someone else’s life, even if you look exactly like them, even if you pretend to be them, even if you think you know them. It’s about empathy: it’s presence, or absence, or how it can sometimes align with identification.
2. Why does this script fit into the context of the TV show?
It carries on the motivations of all the characters and expands some of the mythology (especially with Beth and Delphine). It taps into the heart-thumping heist aspect that the show often employs, and even uses the clone-as-another-clone trick to gain Sarah access to places she shouldn’t be while also exposing her to information that she wouldn’t otherwise have.
3. How long have you been writing stories?
Since before I could actually write.
4. What movie have you seen the most in your life?
The Wizard of Oz.
5. What artists would you love to work with?
The people who write Orphan Black. Michelle Ashford. Sam Shaw. Nell Scovell. Joss Whedon. Shonda Rhimes. Diablo Cody. The Orange is the New Black writers.
6. How many stories/screenplays have you written?
7. What motivated you to write this screenplay?
This particular screenplay actually exists within a larger, full spec season whole. It’s episode 5 of 10. So, I can’t really talk about what motivated me to write this one without talking about the entire project. I’ve always found spec scripts rather limiting. You get to establish that you can mimic the voices, carry on the characters, re-create the dynamics and the settings, but spec scripts don’t really let you play with plot or symbolism or theme in any really juicy way. As a writer, I’d only written single specs before. And, as a writer who would eventually like to write for television, I knew that I’d need some experience with creating and executing stories that could carry a whole season. The motivation for this project was mainly to get that experience, but also to figure out what my style and process was, the kinds of people I worked best with, and the characters and dynamics and plots I was best at. And, at the end, I definitely achieved that.
8. Describe your process; do you have a set routine, method for writing?
I like to do a brainstorm phase first, then nail down a three to four page outline that lists out the scenes that will happen and the order in which they’ll happen. Then, write something that I call a vomit draft, which is a first draft with no regard for page count, finessing, or making things perfect. Once that’s finished, edit. Send it out to some friends, get their feedback. Edit some more. And always always always do a read through to make sure everything sounds good.
9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
Food. Traveling. Board games. Really awful puns.
10. What influenced you to enter the WILDsound Festival? What are your feelings on the initial feedback you received on your screenplay?
I thought it was great that if your screenplay was selected there would be a reading done by actual actors and also posted online! I had a lot of people follow this project, and the fact that the reading will be posted online will be awesome to share with them so we can all see this script come to life.
The feedback I received was also some of the best feedback I’ve gotten from any writing competition. It was thorough and smart, and I could tell that whoever had written it not only knew what they were talking about, but had taken the time to read the script and really think about it.
11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
You can’t be a writer if you don’t write.
The internet is an amazing place! It can be a valuable resource and community that can teach you almost everything you want to know, introduce you to people you never would have met, and provide a forum for feedback that’s impossible to find anywhere else.
If you think your writing is good, be proud of it!
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