Rudi O'Meara is a story junkie who left Hollywood for Silicon Valley after a very Swimming with Sharks-y experience working for an indie producer with Oscar winning credits. During COVID, he decided to conjure up his inner screenwriter again. Fourteen features, four pilots, and one short later, he's received numerous accolades for his work.
He's been a finalist in the ScreenCraft Horror competition, and made the finals of Outstanding Screenplays. He had two scripts land as second rounders at AFF last year, and had a feature trend on The Black List (where eight of his scripts are hovering at solid 7s and above). He's held multiple positions on The Red List, has six scripts in the top 2-10% of all projects on Coverfly, reached the semis of twelve different screenwriting competitions, landed in the top 15% of all Academy Nicholl applicants in 2022, and also recently won our Fifth Annual Filmmatic Pitch Now competition for his comedic pilot "Amends". Rudi has been kind enough to provide us a glimpse into his prolific and successful writing efforts.
1) How long have you been writing?
I’ve been a writer pretty much as long as I can remember. I was the kid who would drive their parents bonkers telling unending stories from the back seat of the car on long, cross-country road trips. And I can thank my mom for keeping a boatload of my early, early ‘works’—including a crazily non-linear retelling of H.G.Wells’ The Time Machine from, like, third grade.
2) What screenwriting training have you received?
I do have a Bachelor’s degree in English, but I haven’t really studied screenwriting formally. My first job out of school was working for an indie producer with Oscar-winning credits. And during that time, one of my many, many responsibilities (including picking up dry cleaning and researching how to form tax shelters in the Netherlands) was reading as many in-bound scripts as I could and writing barebones coverage to help him find his next project. It was, needless to say, hugely instructive.
3) What writing habits work for you? Do you write in short or long shifts, at scheduled times?
I’m sort of a catch-as-catch-can writer (with a day job). But, during COVID, I decided to really let myself listen to that little voice in my head asking why the hell wasn’t I writing regularly. So, I’ve been carving out a chunk of time almost every day to either outline, write, or revise. The only real fixed and firm principle I’ve tried to adhere to is to always—always—have multiple projects in various states of completion when sending out a draft for either coverage or feedback from my writers’ group. It instantly keeps my defenses down and helps me take in critical notes without defaulting to ‘fuck you/fuck me’.
4) Do you have a day job as well, does it influence your writing at all?
I do—as the founder and principal of a brand strategy and storytelling agency called Sequitur. Weirdly, my day job is actually all about writing. In fact, we’re often teaching our clients about three act structure (as a mean to help them tell better stories). There’s an upside to this which is, of course, being constantly immersed in narrative. The downside, though, is that I can sometimes feel like I’m working the right muscles (without actually generating anything of consequence). That’s why I decided to knuckle-down during the lockdown and be as truly generative as possible.
5) What genres do you lean towards? Are most of your works TV projects, Comedy?
So far, I’ve kinda done the thing that tends to drive a lot of managers and agents crazy. I’ve explored almost every genre—mostly to test out my skills. Over the past three years, I’ve written fourteen features, four pilots, and one short. And they run the gamut from horror to drama, action to comedy. I’ve even written one Sci-Fi adaptation (based on a pulpy 1957 short story in the public domain). So far, the things that have resonated with readers the most are my two horror features, my :30 comedy pilot, my WWII feature about the Tenth Mountain Division, and a :60 spy thriller pilot about my mom’s cousin’s time in the CIA (which is in the top 1% of all :60 drama pilots on Coverfly). But the through line that connects them all is, basically, that they’re usually about misfits and outsiders who need to face their demons, deal with their difference, and band together to survive and thrive. And they all tend to be fairly action-oriented and very visual.
6) We really loved your pilot "Amends", how would you describe the project to our readers?
I give my (relatively new) writers’ group all credit for “Amends”. It went through multiple rounds of review/development with them—from the logline on up. And I think that’s why it’s one of my tightest projects to-date. Basically, it’s a Hollywood satire about a washed-up 90s sitcom star who, while in rehab, finds out he’s dying of cancer and—together with his agent—decides to break out and mend fences with everyone he’s ever wronged (to varying degrees of failure). It blends the wry, off-kilter humor of “The Nice Guys” and the high-stakes action of “Ray Donovan”. There are even little hints of “Barry” here and there. And, thematically, it’s all about the seductive, elusive nature of fame—how it corrupts and how it distorts. It’s a story about hard-won redemption—and getting real about your failures in order to…well…make amends with the ones you’ve hurt the most. Oh, and it’s funny, too, I hope!
7) How did you come up with unique premise behind "Amends"?
Well, as I mentioned above, I got my start in the business young—and I saw a lot of things I can’t un-see. Including people so addicted to the limelight they forget that, at some point, everything will very likely vanish in a heartbeat. I saw people treat their loved ones terribly. Terribly! And, at least for me, it was a wake-up call. Every bad decision, every burned bridge (especially in this business) comes back to haunt you. And there are some mistakes you can’t undo, no matter how hard you try. That early, early (cautionary) experience was sort of the initial kernel of inspiration for “Amends”. Plus, I really just love the whole idea of someone racing against the clock to patch things up with all the people they’ve wronged—episode after episode—and failing over and over again. Feels like there’s a nice engine there.
8) Was there an actor you envisioned playing the lead in Amends while writing the character, or now?
Oof. That’s a tough one! SO many people would be amazing in this role. Sam Rockwell would crush it. So would David Harbour. Jason Segal or Mark Duplass would be amazing with their bone-dry, deadpan humor. But, in the back of my mind, I’ve always half imagined that this could be a hilarious and super-meta comeback vehicle for Matthew Perry. Because of, you know, his lived experience.
8) What are you working on at this time? What do you plan on writing in the near future?
I’ve always got a bunch of stuff in the hopper. I just finished a polish of a horror feature (that was a recent ScreenCraft Horror Competition finalist). And I’m in edit mode on a page-one rewrite of a time travel feature called “Turn, Turn, Turn”. On a lark, I decided recently to write something using existing IP that there’s no way in hell I could ever own—and am up to my elbows outlining a “Die Hard” prequel about the making of Hans Gruber (who, let’s face it, is the most fascinating character in the “Die Hard” universe). Oh, and I’m contemplating directing a short later this year—budget allowing. That one’s called “Last Call” and it’s about a grieving young man who is possessed by the spirit of his comatose fiancée—and goes on one last epic bender with her before her parents pull the plug. So, yeah. Lots of stuff in the mix!
9) Where would you like to be writing-wise and career-wise in 3 years?
My game plan for the past three years was: 1. Generate as much as possible, 2. Refine and start putting things out there (into competitions, etc.), and 3. Find representation. I’m in that mode right now—reaching out to both managers and agents for whom I hope to be a storytelling goldmine. So far, so good. But, you know, it’s weird time with a very welcome WGA strike looming in the not-so-distant future. In three years, I’d love to have sold a couple of projects, be winning OWAs and—with any luck—be on the path to someday having an overall deal with a studio. If studios even exist in three years!
10) What show(s) if any would you love to write for and why?
That’s another good one. I’m a huge fan of Alec Berg—so, post-“Barry”, anything that he’s even remotely associated with would be brilliant. I’m also really loving “Poker Face” and would be over the moon to somehow work with Rian Johnson. Oh, and “Russian Doll”—both seasons blew my mind over and over and over again. What else? I’m a big, big devotee of the Scriptnotes podcast. And both Craig and John are heroes of mine. And, even though I know Craig is not a writers room kinda guy, his brand of storytelling rocks my world—especially “The Last of Us”. I’d be beyond proud to have even the slightest role in bringing something as good as that to life.
11) Any solid advice for those about to write their first pilot, or comedy project?
I guess I’d say structure. Aim to stick the landing with structure. Like I think I heard The Daniels once say: structure is the way meaning is conveyed in a piece. Really letting yourself spend time marinating in your outline before jumping to pages is, pretty much always, a good idea—especially when you’ve got the constraint of only :30 or :60 mins. Also, like Meg LeFauve said during a roundtable at AFF last year: don’t count on having multiple episodes beyond the pilot to stick the landing. Write like this one and only episode is it. But, of course, don’t try to cram everything in there. Just be mindful that this one and only artifact has to give the reader a full and vivid picture of what the viewers’ experience will be (whether you get renewed or not). Oh, and bibles. Write your bible! And make it as beautiful as the series itself.
Congratulations once again to writer Rudi O'Meara, our Season 5 Pitch Now Overall Winner. All contact and script requests for Rudi will be forwarded to his attention.