Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist Questionnaire (Marco Ruggio)

What’s your name? Where were you born? Where do you live? And what’s your hobby?

My name is Marco Ruggio. I was born in Los Angeles. Recently, I moved to La Quinta, CA. My hobby is everything linking to films and developing script outlines.

Where did you come up with the concept that just placed you as a Finalist in the screenplay contest? How long did it take you to develop it into the screenplay it is now?

 “EarthJacked” was inspired by the long history of modern civilization abusing Earth, humanity, and endlessly justifying it with biased logic. I’m also attracted to Quantum mechanics which deals with what we currently call “essence”. The other component of Quantum theory which captures my attention is it seems to mirror what we call “spirituality.” My main character, Jack, believes he can control life with Quantum physics but discovers quite the opposite. This is critical because the mysteries of the universe are endlessly discoverable yet endlessly uncontrollable.

I suppose I was attracted to the notion of humanity is a blip. An important blip. But a blip with consequences and a responsibility to the universe. I also have an affinity for Native American Culture which on some level views countries as occupied territories. I believe this is true. They tend to embrace the power of the unknown whereas modern industrialized cultures tend to block out the presence of infinity by hallucinating power. It’s all the ego constructing a fantasy of familiarity to avoid the terror of the unknown. After all, every single second of every single day we are indeed hurling through space without a pilot.

So while we go to restaurants, shopping malls, make love, work out and buy stocks, this also is reality. Our culture teaches us a burning desire for control which only works if we don’t look too far away from home. In martial arts, the ego will always be your blind spot. This seems true with life. “EarthJacked” sort of dabbles with this idea in a mildly humorous way.

From concept to finished draft, can you take us through your screenwriting process?

I first combat judgment. This is a primary and lifelong enemy to creativity. Once an idea bubbles up I ask myself if I organically connect to a concept or start on character development. If it does, I start imagining a person. It has taken me so long to realize concepts and events aren’t drama. Humans are drama. We don’t even place our foot on the gas peddle unless there’s human volition. This is what I am constantly learning and working on.

If I find these elements form a world I wish to return to explore, I start to card or outline. I personally believe this is the most important part of the process. I then let the ideas and character choices flow. Sometimes a line of dialogue can set things in motion. But this can be deceptive until the basic screenplay structure is sound. From there I try to have fun! Creativity should be fun. Especially on your first drafts. Not too many screenwriting books or teachers mention this. This is not a trip to the principal’s office or an SAT contest. From there it’s an endless revision voyage.

When did you realize that you wanted to become a screenwriter?

I always loved movies. There was a time when I was also a musician. I like the possibility of materializing text into the magic of human behavior and a visual environment. Moreover, I was a film editor for many years. So I like the process of assembling parts to create a dramatic effect. Screenwriting is indeed a huge pain in the ass because of all the elements and judgments attached. But when you realize a script is just a set of plans to what usually turns out to be an expensive superstructure, you swallow your pride and do the work. 

Who are your biggest filmmaking/screenwriting influences? What about their style do you like or borrow?

David Lean, who was able to convert the environment into an active character, and Fellini who was able to turn visual and human interaction into a spiritual unconscious voyage. He was the master of artistic flow. I can only learn from them. I believe their message is to find out who YOU are and be you. The only special commodity you have is you. It may take a while and perhaps no one will like your expression, but it’s all you really have. Anything else is simply reproducing the past. The business of filmmaking tends to lean towards reproducing the past because it’s safe. This is totally understandable because of the dollars involved. But I think you should try to follow your heart.

Have you ever been obsessed with a movie or TV show? If so, which one? Why?

I like too many movies to mention here. Lawrence of Arabia, 8 ½, Juliet of the Spirits, The Godfather, Star Wars, Brazil, love Game of Thrones which had terrifyingly amazing writers. All explore our human condition on many levels. (Love James Bond and Harry Potter).

What’s your favorite moment in cinema history? Why?

In Lawrence of Arabia, Peter O’Toole wakes up in the desert after saving a tribesman. He discovers the tribe dressed him in indigenous desert garb. He walks into the desert and begins to play-acting being a real tribesman with his shadow. This showed his childish need to finally belong to something. BTW Peter apparently made this up on the spot and David Lean was smart enough to film it!

Who’s your favorite character in cinema history? Why?

T.E. Lawrence, AKA Lawrence of Arabia. Love his commitment to a grand vision. His intelligence and vulnerability. Moreover, love his inability to fit anywhere yet still able to transcend into a historical figure. This is a very complex character. So many levels.

If you could talk to anyone from any era, who would it be and what would you ask them? 

Maybe Mark Twain. I’d ask if he thinks humanity will make it