Interview with Winning Screenwriter Melissa Willis (WHAT THE HELL)

Get to know the writer:

1. What is your TV Pilot screenplay about?
It’s about a woman who has lost her faith in everything and is struggling to understand why she’s here. She’s still dealing with PTSD and has a lot of nightmares about her past when she’s visited by a man who’s trapped between worlds who desperately needs her help. She doesn’t seem to care or understand until it starts affecting her personally, some of it his doing, but mostly she resists everything about this process and she doesn’t quite believe that what’s happening is real. Until it becomes too real.

2. Why should this screenplay be made into a TV show?
This was such a fun project to work on and I have so many ideas about things that could happen in coming seasons if it were ever picked up. It could easily last 5-8 seasons. And I think that a lot of it could be very relatable to the audience.

3. How would you describe this script in two words?
Darkly funny? Comical misery? Ever evolving? Something like that.

4. What TV show do you keep watching over and over again?
Impractical Jokers, The Goldbergs, The Mick, Togetherness, Pushing Daisies, Sex and the City, Scrubs, The Golden Girls, Martin, Chappelle’s Show

5. How long have you been working on this screenplay?
The idea came to me sometime in early 2016, but I didn’t really start working on it until about April or May of 2017.

6. How many stories have you written?
Spec scripts? I think this is my 5th one. Two existing shows and three pilots.

7. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)
It’s hard to pick just one because I love music so much, but probably “Foolish Beat” by Debbie Gibson (Oh, come on – you know you love it, too) or anything by the Four Seasons because I just love them and have since I was little.

8. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
I’ve been struggling with resistance for several years now and it’s probably the single biggest annoyance/hindrance/frustration in my life. That was probably the biggest one. That and I had a different original concept that turned more into this (which I love), but I’d still like to explore that original concept maybe as part of a season or something.

9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
Music – I’m also a singer/songwriter. Having a great performance or writing a new set of fantastic lyrics that make you go, “Damn, that’s good!” is Heaven on Earth.

Improv/Comedy – There’s no better feeling than getting that unexpected laugh, especially in improv when you don’t even know what’s going to come out.
Exercise – I love that high of finishing a good workout.

Personal Development – There’s so much good stuff out there and it feels so good. I hope to pay it forward sometime soon.

10. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
I’ve been using WildSound for a few years now and I’ve always found their service to be reasonably priced, their notes to be very helpful and tell me exactly what I need to do, and their promotion of our work to be fantastic.

The feedback I received was great! The reviewer was very friendly, too! (I’ve had some in the past that were a little less so, to put it gently.) I had already changed a lot by the time I got it back, but it was still very useful.

11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?
I think it’s pretty smooth and I haven’t had any issues with it.

12. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and keep going. Work hard and want it and you’ll get there.

Genre: Comedy

A single-camera comedy that follows a free-spirited young woman who’s lost everything and her four friends who are all forced to recreate their lives and themselves one humiliating, semi-permanent situation at a time.

Cast List:

Jamie: James Dooley
Narrator: Val Cole
Amy: Kelci Stephenson
The Messenger: Gary Graham

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