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C.M. Landrus Mystifies with "Credence"

C.M. Landrus is a gifted Los Angeles-area writer with a penchant for adapting novels into screenplays. She is also Filmmatic's Inroads Fellowship-Season 7 Winner for her engaging one hour TV drama "Credence". A look into a deserving, up and coming industry talent....

1) How long have you been writing?

I wrote my first short story when I was nine years old. It was called "Exploring the Pacific". Eager for adventure, four fish siblings, Flopsy, Fin, Flash, and Bebe decided to leave their home in the Gulf of Mexico and travel out to the Pacific Ocean to explore. They did so, and content, they returned home. It had a beginning, middle, and end, and at the age of nine, clearly my inherent sense of story structure was superior to my understanding of geography.

2) What screenwriting training have you received?

My screenwriting training has been pretty minimal. I did basically all other forms of writing as an undergraduate and graduate student, with an emphasis on poetry and creative nonfiction writing. When I came to L.A. in 2009, I was actually very intimidated by screenplay formats. I didn't understand them, and I didn't know how to use any screenwriting software. I wrote my first ever script in Word, so I was totally THAT person (for all of you who remember the days when people did that, and it was super annoying). I used to teach at UCLA Extension, and through them I got free classes, so I took a few screenwriting courses and got over my formatting issues pretty quickly.

3) What writing habits work for of you? Do you write in short or long shifts, at scheduled times?

I'm a big fan of deadlines. I think there's something to knowing that something has to be completed. It allows the brain to focus better and start putting information together more efficiently.

4) What is your day job, and how does it influence your writing & project choices?

In January I completed a year and a half stint as a writer and narrative designer for an interactive series called DC Heroes United. Additionally, I have a position adapting scripts from book projects for a company called Level 4 Films, and I'm the long-time, part-time assistant to Marc Guggenhiem. I'm fortunate to have day jobs that are plugged into the industry. With Level 4 I'm adapting other people's ideas for the first time, so that's been a fun collaborative experience. As an assistant, I've gotten the chance to create promotional materials and a comic book for a show and to be on set for a couple of big shows. The people I work with have been incredibly supportive of my personal projects, so I'm also very, very fortunate in that respect.

5) Our judges loved "Credence", how would you describe the project to our readers?

Credence blends a detective narrative with magical realism and, at its core, explores the power of belief. It also examines the rise of conservative extremism in rural areas and how social unacceptance leads to trauma and creates vulnerable populations.

6) "Credence" has a unique premise, how did it you land on that concept?

I grew up in Lake of the Ozarks, MO (yes, like the show), and many of the characters and their home environments are taken directly from my own experiences. Being a teenager at the turn of the millennium, I now realize I had a front row seat to watching extremists start seeping out of the woodworks. So, many of the current situations that are a shock to so many people who have never been to these parts of the country are, for me, the result of things set in motion decades ago. Additionally, it's just a really weird part of the world, and there are a lot of fascinating and misunderstood tidbits I also incorporate in the story.

7) What are you working on now? What do you plan on writing in the near future?

I've been adapting a book project into a pilot, so polishing that and its accompanying materials have been the priority lately.

8) Where would you like to be writing-wise, and career-wise, in 2 years?

My goal is showrunner. I would like to see several of my projects come to life on screen between now and then.

9) Any key advice for those about to write their first one-hour pilot?

I don't necessarily have advice, but I can tell you what I did. I did not know much about pilot writing when I first wrote a pilot, but I knew I wanted to create a YA fantasy CW-esque show. So I got The Vampire Diaries pilot script and rewatched the pilot (probably more times than necessary), and deconstructed it beat by beat. Then, I just made my story match the types of beats from that pilot. I wrote it, and when I felt it was polished enough, I started submitting it to competitions (because I had no idea what else to do with it). That pilot, Olympus Rising, placed in or won nearly every competition I submitted it to and eventually landed me a shopping agreement.

Congratulations once again to screenwriter C.M. Landrus, our Season 7 Inroads Fellowship Winner. All contact and script requests for C.M. will be forwarded to her attention.


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