Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist Riley Helm
What’s your name? Where were you born? Where do you live? And what’s your hobby?
Riley Helm grew up in Freeport, the jewel (and teenage pregnancy capital) of Illinois. I avoided the temptation of fatherhood and moved to Los Angeles in 2014 to pursue screenwriting.
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?
Every time I backpack in Yosemite, this rascally bigfoot follows me around and waits for me to slip up with my food storage so he can cop a free meal. For the script, I imagined a world where this bigfoot plucked up the courage to talk to somebody eager to meet him. Took me about three years to get from idea to final draft.
From concept to finished draft, can you take us through your screenwriting process?
Step 1: realize some weird concept rattling around in my brain might make a good story.
Step 2: procrastinate developing that concept/finish whatever other project I started prior to conceiving idea.
Step 3: Outline.
Step 4: Outline.
Step 5: Write.
Step 6: Rewrite.
Step 7: Rewrite.
Step 8: Self-loathing.
Step 9: Rewrite.
Step 10: Complete!
When did you realize that you wanted to become a screenwriter?
I think I realized writing could still be a viable career in the age of the screen around age 16. Books are for chuds. TV is for really-cool-dudes.
Who are your biggest filmmaking/screenwriting influences? What about their style do you like or borrow?
Dan Harmon’s story circle changed the way I write (for the better [I hope]). He boiled down the best of Campbell’s The Hero With A Thousand Faces, divorced it from the mythos and religion (which is super neat but gets a little… challenging), and made the theory easier to see in action.
Have you ever been obsessed with a movie or TV show? If so, which one? Why?
I don’t know that I get obsessed with movies or TV. Binge? For sure. Rewatch? Absolutely. But I think the only thing my friends would complain I won’t shut up about is Gucci Mane. Why? All he makes is bangers and wow what a life. The Godfather of Trap. Highly recommend his autobiography.
What’s your favorite moment in cinema history? Why?
I mean, I think it’s pretty neat that Ridley Scott feels justified blaming millenials for his movie flop. Cinema is undergoing a period of transition where directors can decide their movie doesn’t suck, people suck. What a time to be alive.
Who’s your favorite character in cinema history? Why?
Rick the Hormone Monster has the best life motto: “Watcha gonna do?”
If you could talk to anyone from any era, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Would love to ask me from 2 hours ago why I ate that egg I could smell was not good.