Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist – Michael Seth

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

My name is Michael Seth Kopf. I was born in Sleepy Hollow, NY (home of the Headless Horseman). I live on a small lake in Trumbull, CT (home of the 1989 Little League World Series Champions). My hobbies include reading and DIY home improvement projects.

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 came up with the concept for See Her while living in Miami and reading Proust. I have been dreaming up the screenplay for the past 20+ years, but worked earnestly on it for the past year.

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

I derive many of my ideas through reading, so first I do a lot of reading and pondering. From there, I establish a trajectory. Once I have a direction, I begin setting scenes. Then I place my characters in the scenes and let them do the talking. This entails a lot of careful observation and listening.

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

I vividly recall going to see Terminator 2 with my father. I was captivated. When the film ended, we exited through one of the doors at the front of the theater, below the screen, and walked out of the darkness into daytime sunlight. I remember realizing I had been transported, and wanted to somehow be involved with that magic.

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

I love Hitchcock’s dark sense of humor. I love the French New Wave’s realism and energy. I love Wong Kar-wai’s use of location and color. I love the conversations of classical romantic comedies.

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

I was obsessed with Monkey Business for a while. How did they come up with all the double entendres? How much laughter must have gone on during shooting? What’s the meaning of the final scene? Who trained the monkeys?

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

The legend of people scrambling for safety during the first public showing of the Lumière brothers’ The Arrival of a Train. Powerful stuff.

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

Cary Grant. He could do it all, with a sense of humor and alacrity.

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

I would like to attend a meeting of the Transcendental Club, but I would probably just listen.