Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist – Jeff Osborne

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

My name is Jeff Osborne, I was born in Syracuse, NY, and I live in Hollywood, CA. My hobby is watching and studying film and television.

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

I’m a dual American and Panamanian citizen. I personally met Manuel Noriega in prison multiple times before his death. I have been researching his life for more than 12 years, and have the entire 50 episode series bible outlined. I finished the first draft of the pilot in 2018, and have made multiple revisions that culminated with the draft submitted to this festival.

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

I conducted interviews and research for many years before I converted my bedroom wall into a giant timeline between 1968-1989, placing index cards as pertinent facts and milestones to get a sense of how the arc of the series would be best presented. From there I was able to construct the arc of the entire series, then each season, and each episode. This allowed me to better understand where the pilot would take place in Noriega’s life.

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

I’ve wanted to be a filmmaker my entire life. As a Panamanian, I’ve been compelled to tell Noriega’s story for many years, and I’ve realized that in today’s landscape there’s a higher chance of success if creators are writing and developing their own ideas.

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

I’ve had many influences throughout the years including Steven Speilberg, Martin Scorcese, M. Night Shyamalan, Alfonso Cuaron, and Christopher Nolan. Based on this list of influences it’s clear my first love was film. I became more acquainted with the series format after falling in love with compelling serial dramas like Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Homeland, House of Cards, and Snowfall. My series actually has a unique style and defies many of the common conventions in serial dramas. The Isthmus takes bold risks that include fast paced action, and a barrage of enigmatic characters and storylines.

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

Obsessed might be an overstatement, but I’ve been recently enjoying Snowfall due to its similar themes and storylines to The Isthmus. I’ve also enjoyed House of Cards and Breaking Bad because of their compelling antiheroes.

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

When George Lucas decided to film digitally on Episode 1 and showed the world you didn’t film to bring your ideas to the big screen. To me, this was a monumental shift in the industry and I like filmmakers who take risks.

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

Michael Douglas as D-Fens in Falling Down. I always love a good antihero, and he perfectly encapsulated someone who snaps in a relatable way and stopped giving a fuck.

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

The founding fathers to ask what they meant by “a well regulated militia”.