Interview with screenwriter Antonio P. Fernandez

  • What is the first story you ever wrote?

I can’t really remember. I wrote a lot of things in High school that went missing. I had this hobby since I was very young and until now I wrote a lot of short stories. However, I remember a couple of them that I wrote, probably because my teacher loved them so much that she made me read it in front of all the students in my classroom, being that the first time of many. The story was about an alien race that was eliminating the humans, written from the point of view of one of the human soldiers. It was an inspiring story about bravery and courage.

  • Growing up, what movies or stories inspired your creative passion?

I grew up watching movies in VHS format. Since I was just a kid I loved horror movies. I remember my Mom struggling to pick up a horror movie from the video store because we had watched them all already. If I have to choose a few titles I would say that “The Omen” seriously impacted me at that age .Other films like “The Others” or “The Conjuring” were, without doubt, not only a good inspiration but a new hope for the genre.

  • For an unknown writer, what is the best way to get their screenplay seen?

In the first place, I never thought that any of my stories would reach the public converted in a shot movie. It was something completely unexpected. That being said, the best way to see your stories in the big screen is to make your stories short, direct, simple and  full of empathy. Nowadays we are completely overwhelmed with content. We are free to consume loads of short videos from a lot of different platforms in the internet, some of them with a very high quality. This means that not only the offer is too big, but the people demanding this content is becoming very selective. So aiming for touching stories is probably the best way to stand out.

  • Can you explain your character development process?

One of the things I enjoy the most is playing video games, which I think have a lot in common with cinema. There are some video games with absolutely brilliant stories that are often overlooked by the profane public. Most of these games make use of empty main characters. The people who wrote those stories want the player to be able to feel that things are actually happening around them. They want to fit into the character skin a lot of different people with very diverse personalities. So, the truth is that I prefer this method for the development of my main characters. I want the public to feel that they would fit in the story as a main character, and what is happening is something that could happen to them too. This is easier to achieve when you don’t provide a solid background for the main role.

  • Do you write bios before you start writing?

No. I prefer to leave the characters of the stories as flexible as possible. After the story is done I focus on the details if there is any interest to use it  as a script for a short movie. Different people watching the same story may understand  it in a lot of different ways. I really believe that it’s very beneficial for the spectator to create their own thoughts about the characters of the story.

  • How emotionally involved are you with the characters you create?

Normally when I create a character I think of any of my family members, friends, acquaintances or even myself in order to shape it.  At some point is inevitable not to be bound to the characters. For example, in “Forgive me” the main role is performed by my niece. She inspired me for the creation of this role from the beginning, but making a drama provoked some mixed feelings on me. It’s hard to write stories where someone so close to you suffers in such a deep way.

  • What are your thoughts on structure?

The narrative in short stories is something very direct. Although failing at this will spoil everything. Sometimes you have a very good idea but after you write it you just realize that it lacks something, and normally this is that you are missing something important in the structure or some part of it is weaker than the rest. Even if what you wrote was as solid as a rock in your mind. I like my stories to have rhythm, with a well defined plot, shaped roles and an impacting ending or resolution. Sounds quite straight forward but it’s not always easy to achieve.

  • Do you outline before you start writing?

Of course. Probably everyone has their own way to make sketches of their ideas. I normally think about a specific part of the plot or even the place where I would like a story to take place. And then I write the rest from there. If a story is a line from A to B, I normally start to develop somewhere between those two points.

  • What is the most important aspect of building a great character?

Probably the most important is to be able to feel the character. Create a person you can feel bound with, feeling sad when you make them go through hard times, or happy when they succeed on their dreams. That is the best way to know that you are on track to create a great character for a great story.