FLARE sat down with Scott Abrams and Andy Nance of Awed Byrd Productions, a St. Augustine-based scriptwriting and project development company, to chat about their business, their writing processes, and their favorite literary characters.
FLARE: Tell us about yourself and your company (i.e., your crew, what your goals are, etc.).
Scott Abrams: We are local performers, writers and various creatives united by a desire to take our talents and aspirations to the next level. Vetting our skills through smaller projects, we will move on into ever-larger and loftier projects, including screenwriting and production for feature film.
FLARE: How did you get started?
Andy Nance: I suppose these projects got started last summer when we put on a comedic summer stock production of The Colonial Crew Revue. It was an outdoor production at the Colonial Quarter that featured comedic elements, improv, choreographed fights, song, and dance. When that ended we utilized that same stage with weekly comedy improv performances until the weather got too cold. From there we started on the Awed Byrd productions.
FLARE: Where do you find inspiration/material? Do you people watch or get ideas from television?
Scott: My mind is always identifying and reassembling aspects of story. Whether from other entertainment mediums (music, film, live performance) or real life, unique, interesting or incidental moments and characters present themselves and my brain starts turning the details and perspectives around almost on its own.
Andy: I find working with Scott Abrams and Madi Mack to be inspiring. Scott’s brain is always clicking and his enthusiasm is infectious. I had a career in personality driven radio for over twenty-years, mostly hosting morning shows that featured a lot of comedic elements. That experience is helpful in both writing and acting in our comedic The Writing Room: Unscripted, and Awed Byrds sketches.
FLARE: What are you working on right now?
Andy: I am a writer with a couple of published novels under my belt. I’m currently a couple of hundred pages into a suspense/horror entitled, Oasis. Within Awed Byrd Productions, we’re constantly working on our sketch comedy show and I’m co-writing a couple of screenplays with Scott and Madi.
Scott: Starting with the comedy sketch show we just released, I have huge goals for 2014. Next we’ll try out hand at a suspense thriller series slated for internet distribution, followed by two feature films already in pre-production. I will write 13 feature length screenplays this year. I’ve already competed three since Jan. 1.
FLARE: Where do you hope to end up? Do you want to remain local or would you like a more widespread audience?
Andy: From a production company standpoint, we’d like to make feature length films and start a production company right here in St. Augustine. From our online comedy, our main goal at the moment is to constantly grow our viewership until we have a constantly expanding fan base who put our YouTube views into the hundreds of thousands or more.
Scott: Beyond that, we’d like to continue to write and produce screenplays right here. When a script reaches completion, we evaluate it and determine if it’s scope matches our current resources, if not, I hope to send these larger projects on for studio production.
FLARE: What are you reading right now?
Scott: I have a bad habit of reading two or three books at a time. I’m currently reading The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson, Doomed by Chuck Palahniuk and Dr. Sleep by Stephen King. About once a year I plow through Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemingway. It serves as a cerebral enema, cleaning out the accumulated noise. I’m overdue.
FLARE: What is your writing process like? What kind of routine do you have, if any?
Scott: When I’m working on a project, I spend at least three-four hours a day working the material. Taking no more than a day off at a time to recharge as needed. I like to push through in a figurative ‘single sitting’ to maintain voice and rhythm of what I’m working on. A feature length screenplay, for example, shouldn’t take me more than three weeks for the first draft. Between projects I like to give my brain a week or so to data dump the last project and pre-load the next. Specifically, when I write, I sit at a high table on a stool with no back. And I write until I literally hurt. I find being comfortable or being able to lean back slows the process down. There also tends to be a great deal of caffeine an nicotine fueling this process.
Andy: I don’t have a rigid writing schedule, but usually write in the morning and early afternoon. I like to edit as I go along, maybe once or twice a week in the afternoon while sitting in a hot bath. Throughout the non-writing parts of my days and nights, I’ll get little ideas and either make note of them to work in later, or got add it right away. I also try to utilize my hypnogogic state, that’s the state you’re in between laying your head on your pillow and actually sleeping. Your brain is very creative at this point. If I have a problem with plot, motivation, or character development, I think about it before I go to sleep and often come up with a solution in the hypnogogic state. A lot of my comedy sketch ideas come to me right before I fall asleep.
FLARE: If you could be any literary character, who would you be? Why? What would you do for a day?
Andy: It’s hard to pick just one. Maybe Aloysious Pendergast, kind of a modern day Sherlock Holmes in a series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. Going back to my favorite book, Dhalgren, I’d maybe pick a character called Nightmare. He’s the leader of a biker-style gang (minus the bikes) called the Scorpions. They live in a dying city called Bellona and wear holographic projectors so that they look like giant scorpions at night. And I’d like to be either of the Weasley twins, I guess the one who doesn’t get killed. As a Weasley I’d spend my day flying around on a broom and playing practical jokes on people.
Scott: Tyler Durden from Palahniuk’s Fight Club or Roland the Gunslinger from Stephen King’s Dark Tower series or maybe Hamlet. I identify with deeply flawed heroes whose victories often coincide with their own demise. For me, it has much less to do with the ultimate goal, and far more the nearly impossible journey I find compelling. As artists we couldn’t do what we do if we had any real hope of success. We push and we fight and we scream to be heard, but when people actually listen, when an idea actually works, we’re often as surprised as everyone else. At least that’s how it is for me.
Check out Awed Byrd Productions on Facebook and YouTube: