Watch Video Pitch for the Feature Screenplay OUTLAW TRAIL:
Get to know the writer Derek Stephen McPhail:
1) What is the theme of your story?
as many writers are, consciously or unconsciously, inspired by the mythic hero’s journey, as I am a mixed-blood person, (Ojibwa/Haida/Scots/Norwegian/French/Basque); I chose to develop two characters, who are really the same character, who become challenged to embark on a hero’s journey, that reflect different communities: one an urban imperialist materialist culture and the other a rural tribal spiritual culture.
2) Why do people need to know about your story?
the global cultural conflicts between these cultures is currently putting human survival at risk, possibly in our lifetime.
3) How long have you been writing stories?
since I was a teenager, my story-telling found an outlet in songwriting; which, I pursued for approximately fifty years. it is only since I went back to Ryerson to study film, that I began to focus on short stories and screenplays.
4) What movie have you seen the most in your life?
as, I left home after high school and distanced myself from my family for many years, you could say I lived a version of the parable of the “prodigal son”.
5) What artists would you love to work with?
after spending a year hitch-hiking through the Andes, with my now deceased wife, I’m particularly impressed with a number of Hispanic artists: Juan Jose Campanella – writer/director, Gonzalo Gutierrez – production designer, Anderson Debernardi – designer and Robert Rodriguez – writer/director/etc.
6) How many stories have you written?
have written two feature film scripts. however, since I finished my latest draft of “Outlaw Trail”, I’m now focusing on a re-write of my first screenplay, a supernatural time-travel thriller, “Dreaming Together”. then, I will begin my first draft of my third script from an existing outline, I’m calling, “Farby & Nearaway”, a love story set in Peru.
7) Ideally, where would you like to be in 5 years?
in five years, I would like to be in Peru, shooting my third script.
8) Describe your process; do you have a set routine, method for writing?
my writing process, that first evolved with my songwriting, is slightly schizophrenic; as, part takes place in my dream state and part in my waking state. the outline begins in a dream. as my scripts have all taken years to evolve, I then spend months doing massive literary and internet research on the location and period. as I begin to visualize specific scenes in my dreams, I wake myself up and type it into my computer. after the spine of the story’s scenic progression and the characters evolve, I begin endless re-writes, defining the scenic description and appropriate dialogue as elegantly, as possible.
9) Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
after spending much of my childhood overwhelmed by autism, as I become empowered to define my personal territory, I devoted myself to developing the numerous skill sets required to perform as a singer/guitarist, actor and martial artist. when I found the love of my life, I focused more on being a husband/parent/provider and worked primarily as a carpentry contractor building housing, film & theatre sets and staging. as my son and daughter are now both grown up, on their own and have made me a grandpa three times over; I consider them the creative projects I’m most proud of. as I am once again living alone, I am focused on acting and writing.
10) What influenced you to enter the WILDsound Festival?
WILDsound Festival was a local outfit.
11) Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
advice for those interested in becoming writers, hmmm:
– the most important tool is to spend the rest of your life keeping journals; so, you embrace the habit of writing down your random useful thoughts on a daily basis.
– learn to take care of yourself, by going into serious training: regular exercise, get a handle on any substance abuse, be modest in your consumption of sugar and wheat products, don’t eat after 9:00 pm, (which, will help you get a decent sleep); and, practice regular meditation.
– being creative is the same as being spiritual. this is the same as maintaining your bond with nature and your ancestors. as all species are your genetic and spiritual relations, your bond with nature and your ancestors is really the same thing. you, then, don’t have to have parents who are status natives to recognize that, we are all part of one human race.
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