Write of Passage Short Screenwriting Competition Winner 2023 – INTERVIEW
Our Winner is: “SAVOR” by CHERI DALY, from NORTH AUGUSTA, South Carolina with help from Development Executive: AARON YBARRA. The story is about a grieving chef who learns to savor the little moments with his wife and three daughters. Because, in life, just like cooking in the kitchen, timing is everything!
CHERI wrote the best 12-page screenplay in one week (168 hours). Both she and Aaron are interviewed below.
Prizes include cash to the writer and to the DE. The writer will also receive an introduction to Hollywood pros, like Brian Bird ("The Case For Christ" and “When Calls The Heart”).
Any WP script may be produced for the 168 Film Festival's Write of Passage Spotlight. Writers and mentors (DE's) receive screen credit if the film is made.
See Results and Read All 2023 Finalist Scripts Here
Some Quotes From This Interview:
“This is my first award! (Savor) is only the 7th completed work I’ve ever done!”“I have two feature films and a TV series pilot… with release dates over the next few years. All of this just happened within the last year, so it’s all a bit of a miracle to me.”
“I thought about how timing is crucial in the kitchen, and how things need to be done in a certain order – all things at the right time. It felt like a natural beginning.” (Regarding the 2023 Theme: “Time”)
“My real joy is championing the next generation to pursue redemptive work in all artistic areas.”
We asked some probing questions and got probing answers.
The interviewer is John David Ware (JDW). Cheri Daly = CD and “WP” means Write of Passage.
JDW: Tell us about yourself. What do you do for work?
CD: For the last year, I have been working as a screenwriter. Previously, I was a stay-at-home mom for eighteen years and part time event planner.
JDW: Tell us about your family and where you live. How has your environment and family shaped your writing? What obstacles have you had to overcome in life? How have they helped your writing?
CD: I am a wife of 21 years and mom of 4. We currently live in South Carolina not far from the Georgia border. Being a family-centered Christian and half-Korean shapes a lot of the themes I choose to write about. There are so many multi-dimensional life-experiences that have become fodder for stories that I get to tell – both comedic and tragic. Ultimately, the redemption I’ve experienced is the hope that is left on the page.
JDW: How did you learn about Write of Passage (WP) &168 Film Project?
CD: First of all, I’m so grateful for 168 Film Project and WP. When I started my screenwriting journey five years ago, I was unsure of how to begin. So I jumped right in by entering competitions. That’s when I first heard of the 168 Film Project and WP. It was the second screenwriting competition I had entered at the time.
JDW: Is this your 1st time in WP? Have you won awards, been optioned, etc?
CD: This is my second WP. I entered my first WP in 2019 with no clue what I was doing. What was so appealing to me about WP was the fact that it included a mentor. I love to learn, and I certainly needed the guidance, so the mentorship part of the competition was priceless to me. And this year was no different. This is my first award! Truth be told, my submission to WP is only the 7th completed work I’ve ever done! So, I’m still in awe that I won! Currently, I have two feature films and a tv series pilot that are in the works with release dates over the next few years. All of this just happened within the last year, so it’s all a bit of a miracle to me.
JDW: Besides the verse, what inspired you to write “SAVOR?”
CD: I was inspired to write “Savor” by several things – conversations with family and friends, my growing children, and recent family loss. And, the fact that I’m an absolute FOODIE!
JDW: How did this year’s theme hit you? Describe your journey from theme and verse?
CD: Speaking of being a foodie, when I read the verse, my brain highlighted the words “season”, “time”, and “purpose”. I immediately pictured food, which I ended up including in the story as “seasonings,” “thyme”, and “all-purpose flour”. I thought about how timing is crucial in the kitchen, and how things need to be done in a certain order – all things at the right time. It felt like a natural beginning, and then it went on to explore how we could apply that same idea in our everyday lives. Time is our most precious resource and something to be used with intentionality. Otherwise, it tends to slip away.
JDW: How are you planning to shape the story going forward? Any plans to make the film?
CD: As far as the writing goes, I can already think of tweaks and improvements. I would love to see a talented filmmaker take a shot at putting this on screen. I’m not against doing it myself, but I love to see people shine in their element. I’m sure there’s someone out there who could make it happen in a brilliant way.
JDW: Tell us about your pursuit of the arts?
CD: I grew up going to a fine arts school, so no matter what I do, the arts are always close to my heart. I have a passion for writing film, books/devotionals, and song lyrics. I also have a history in dance, acting, and instrumental music. But, my real joy is championing the next generation to pursue redemptive work in all artistic areas. Visual art, dramatic art, music, performance, digital – I’d love to see what happens when people are equipped to create with passion and purity.
JDW: How did your Mentor/Development Executive, help shape your story?
CD: Aaron was a fantastic mentor. He was so gracious with my questions and gave great feedback! I remember asking him to explain one of his critiques/suggestions, and he explained his answer so thoroughly that I could really understand his intent. As a writer, this helped me step outside of my own box and see what others might see. I think this one lesson will be the biggest takeaway for me going forward.
JDW: Tell us about your writing process.
CD: I hinted at this before, but, my brain tends to see pictures as it reads. Key words jump out at me as a launch pad. Typically, I close my eyes and pray for a few minutes before beginning any work. And then, I usually start with an outline. Once I have that, I start wherever I have the most developed scene/idea. Sometimes it’s the beginning of the story, sometimes the ending. And a few times, it’s somewhere in the middle. The story tends to go from there.
JDW: How has WP helped you grow as a writer? Would you recommend it to others?
CD: Again, having a mentor is priceless. Being a constant learner and choosing to be surrounded by people smarter than myself is key to growth. WP gave me that opportunity. I would highly recommend it for this very reason.
JDW: What are your plans for the future? Are you encouraged? How do you keep grounded?
CD: My plan is to continue learning, growing, and writing! I have a few new projects on the horizon, so the feedback from WP is highly encouraging me as a storyteller to keep moving forward. At this stage in my life, I realize that I have nothing to prove, and I don’t have to strive in doing what I feel called to do. My job is to simply steward the gift. For me, recognizing this and relying on God in every area of my life, those are the keys to staying grounded.
JDW: Anything else we should know about you?
CD: I just want people to know it’s never too late to follow a God-dream! No matter how old you are! You didn’t miss God. And you didn’t miss His TIMING!
Interview with Winning Development Executive: Aaron Ybarra (DE)
JDW: Where are you from and what do you do?
DE: I am originally from sunny Southern California. I currently build turbos for BorgWarner in Arden, North Carolina.
JDW: You are a frequent participant in WP and 168. What have you learned? Do you still ﬁnd it useful? How did you like shaping and leading the writers?
DE: I have learned to heed the prompt, listen to my instincts, and have fun with it! I have worked with so many writers, who produce work that deﬁes convention and makes me rethink how stories can be told. I have worked as a DE before and absolutely love the fact that writers can come out of the gate with such strong and intriguing ideas and then are kind enough to accept notes AND bold enough to take those note and personalize them, reinterpreting them in a way that is true to the heart of the note and the spirit of the piece.
JDW: What do you see as some diﬀerences between telling stories in your region vs. other places?
DE: I really loved working with an international group this year! It was really cool to see where they placed their emphasis, be it character, setting & dialogue, pacing, world building, and/or minimalism. I could deﬁnitely see patterns in types of styles, even though the stories themselves were vastly diﬀerent.
JDW: How has being a DE in Write of Passage helped you grow? What have you learned? What would you tell writers about the experience?
DE: Write of Passage continually teaches me that we produce better works together. Having that sounding board, something to play oﬀ of, makes a huge diﬀerence in the creative process, as does the time crunch. There is something to be said for really putting your cognitive ﬂow to the ﬁre and watching it sparkle and ignite.
JDW: What are your plans for the future?
DE: I am currently in rehearsal for Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House. It goes live in a couple weeks!
JDW: Anything else we should know about you? DE: That's all for now. Have a marvelous day!