Kent Moran is an award-winning actor/writer/filmmaker best known for starring roles in his self-penned movies The Challenger (Michael Clarke Duncan, S. Epatha Merkerson, Rob Morgan, Justin Hartley) and Listen to Your Heart (Cybil Shepherd, Alexia Rasmussen). He has played both lead and supporting roles in many other widely-distributed films and TV shows, while also finding time to scribe an amazing James Dean biopic and land the top spot in Filmmatic's Season 8 Drama Screenplay Awards.
1) How long have you been writing?
I've been writing professionally since 2007. I was writing poetry, songs, lyrics, and short stories since I was a kid.
2) What writing habits work for you? Do you write in long shifts, at scheduled times, late at night?
I've developed a bit of a unique writing method over the years. I try to keep my writing as organic as possible while having a solid structure. So when I come up with an idea for a feature that I think is worthy enough to actually write, I think about it for weeks. I take notes late at night, early in the morning, whenever ideas come to me. I slowly put together a very long list of everything from dialogue to characters to plot, etc. over a period of weeks. I also try to write out a scene or two early on so I can really get a sense of what the characters sound and feel like and what the overall vibe of the story feels like. I even go as far to dream about the movie so I get the most organic ideas as I can. I basically watch the story unfold in my dreams. When I feel like I've gathered so many ideas that I can't wait any longer to start writing, I beat out the story and create a full outline. By the time I'm ready to start writing the script itself, I really know just about everything that's going to happen. Of course, there are always a few welcome surprises/changes along the way and when I'm writing I inevitably take the story where the characters want to go. For the actual writing of the script itself, I do it very fast and with no distractions. I take myself to a quiet space, usually a hotel room for a few nights. I turn my wifi off, put my phone on do not disturb, and I just write. I usually write the first draft over 2 days. I just write all day long. I find this to be the best way, for me at least, to get the purest forms of my ideas out. Distractions can really interupt my flow of ideas, so I cut them all out. Once I write the first draft and have gotten everything that I wanted to get out on the page, I do the opposite of what I did during my idea-forming stage. I do my best to forget everything about the project entirely for a couple of weeks. I put back in ALL the distractions. That way, when I revisit the first draft a couple of weeks later, I can read the script as objectively as possible and see what worked and what didn't. Usually, I find the first draft is not too far off from the last draft, but there are always adjustments to be made. This process probably won't work for everyone, but it's worked well for me. 3) What writing/screenwriting training have you received? I never went to film school or took any classes on screenwriting specifically, but I was mentored by several writers early on in my career that had cast me as an actor in their projects. I mentioned I was interested in writing my first script back in 2006 and these two individuals were very generous with their time and knowledge. They mentored me for a few years during my initial venture into screenwriting. 4) What genres do you cover? Are most of your works Dramas? I actually like to write a number of different genres. Just as I like to watch many genres, I also like to create in many genres. I most typically write dramas, but I have also written thrillers, rom-coms, action/adventures, and I even have a horror script. 5) Are you active in the entertainment industry outside of writing?
Yes. I started as an actor, then became a writer, and then became a filmmaker. I continue to wear all of these hats because they each provide something different and unique that I enjoy. I've written and directed many projects at this point, the 2 most well-known being my feature films Listen to Your Heart and The Challenger. 6) We really loved your dramatic biopic, "Jimmy", how would you describe the project to our readers?
Thank you so much, I'm very grateful! "Jimmy" is the true story of American screen legend James Dean. When a young, Indiana farm boy is abandoned and forgotten, he sets out on a journey to make sure the world will remember his name. 7) If produced, how would you like to see "Jimmy" differentiate itself from the other James Dean biographical projects?
Mostly, I would like to see the movie be authentic, exciting, and not play it safe. As an actor, I've played James Dean several times in my career: first in a documentary, then in a print campaign, and then in a Mercedes commercial. In delved deep into his life in my research for my portrayal of Jimmy in each of those projects, I really found his short life unique, tragic, and fascinating. When I watched the movies that had been done about his life, I was surprised to see that they barely scratched the surface of who he was and what actually happened in his life. It was in books and many sources during my research, but never in a movie or on TV. That's the reason I wanted to write this script. I felt passionate about telling his story on screen as I think it's one that really needs to be told. Once I decided to write the script, I researched even further, I met and became friends with people he knew, read all the books I could find about him, and started to form my own opinion about who Jimmy really was. In more than 10 years of research, I feel like I've gotten to know Jimmy and I wanted to tell what I believe to be his real "true story." 8). Are there any other historical figures you've considered creating a biopic around?
I have considered writing another biopic at some point and had a few people in mind, but it hasn't been my focus. I have to do more research before I know for sure who I'd be most interested in writing about. 9) What are you working on now? What do you plan on writing in the near future?
While I've continued to act and direct, the last couple of years I have focused heavily on writing. I've now completed 5 screenplays (various genres) and 1 TV Pilot. I'm in the process of figuring out which project I want to try and put in production next under my production company, Wishing Well Pictures. I'm also pursuing selling some of my other scripts. In terms of writing, I have many more stories I want to tell and ideas to put on paper... now to find the time! haha 10) Where would you like to be writing-wise, and career-wise, in 3 years?
While I've been represented as an actor, I've never been represented as a writer/filmmaker. I would love to be repped as a writer by someone who can help me bring my projects to fruition. I would love to continue writing and acting most often, and I'd love to continue to direct a handful of projects that I'm very passionate about. 11) Any solid advice for those about to write their first feature-length project?
Firstly, just write. I've always been a "learn by doing" person. There are many great books and mentors out there that can help you hone your craft along the way and that's super important, but never let perfectionism get in the way of you continuing to write. That's been a hard thing for me to overcome myself in the past, but I'm in a good place with it now. The other piece of advice is to learn script structure inside and out. If it becomes like second nature to you, it will save you so much time in rewrites. When I first started, I would have to rewrite a script 5, even 10 times before I was happy with it. Then I really delved into screenplay structure and it made life so much easier. I'm not saying, don't break the rules, but I am saying know the rules, inside and out, so that you know when to break them. When you break the rules, it should be on purpose.
Congratulations once again to screenwriter Kent Moran, our Season 8 Drama Screenplay Awards Winner. All contact and script requests for Kent will be forwarded to his attention.