Interview with Screenwriter Tammy Caplan (BLACK-ISH “Keepin’ It Real Estate”)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Tammy Caplan: It’s a 30 minute TV comedy spec of the show Blackish. My episode is called Keepin’ It Real Estate. Dre discovers housing discrimination happening in his own neighborhood of Sherman Oaks and fights to stop it.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Family comedy

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

The Blackish writing staff has touched on the subject of housing discrimination before but there’s so much more to the topic that they could deal with. As I told my in-laws what I was writing about, they came out with their own horror stories of housing discrimination and how these areas of our country that discriminated still lack diversity. That lack of diversity contributes to so many of the social and political issues we grapple with today. Even after the 1968 Fair Housing Act, real estate agents still discriminate but in subtler ways. For example, they’ll use online advertising tools to send their ads to whites only instead of everyone. There were two great movies, BlacKKKlansman and Sorry to Bother You, which dealt with “black voice.” What many don’t realize is that “black voice” and “white voice” is another product of housing discrimination and not having diverse communities in the United States for multiple generations.

4. How would you describe this script in two words?

Social Comedy

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

Probably Star Wars. I’m a nerd who still has her action figures taking up half her desk space.

6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I immersed myself in Blackish by watching every single episode of Blackish, some more than once. That took about a month. I also went to the WGA library (a great resource which anyone in Los Angeles can go to) and studied the Blackish scripts and outlines they have on file. After really studying the structure and absorbing the voices of the characters, I wrote the actual script fairly quickly.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written a comedy pilot called The Last Abortion Clinic in Kansas, which was a finalist in four writing contests including the Austin Film Festival Writing Competition. I’ve also written an anti-bullying comedy screenplay called 8th Grade Sucks, which was a Nicholl Fellowship Quarterfinalist. I love writing comedy that pokes fun at social and political issues.

8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

I grew up in a home full of country music and my mom would go through phases where she played the same song over and over. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” Luckily it’s a good song.

9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

One challenge for me was squeezing the history of over 100 years of housing discrimination into one scene. I wanted to leave the audience understanding that our history of racial disparities have caused the inequalities in our society that exist today but they can be fixed if we’re willing to take action.

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

I’m also a professional actress. I find it meditative to get under the skin of another character. I’m one of those nutty actors who actually loves auditioning.

11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

It was easy and fast.

12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

Not a lot of contests exist which accept spec scripts so I was delighted to find a contest that not only takes specs but also gives lengthy feedback.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Original screenplay from the popular ABC Sitcom

Narrator: Carina Cojeen
Dre: Kaleb Alexander
Bow: Natalie Morgan
Eustace: Aaron Williams
Janine: Barb Scheffler
Diane: Cassandra Guthrie
Junior: Gabriel Darku
Josh: Andrew Ball

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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