Matthew Scarsbrook's excellent script EXIT MARLOWE recently won the big prize in our Writers on the Storm contest. This interview courtesy of our pals at MovieBytes. Thanks, Frederick!
MovieBytes Interview: Screenwriter Matthew Scarsbrook
An interview with screenwriter Matthew Scarsbrook regarding the
Writers On The Storm Writing Competition.
Q: What's the title of the script you entered in this contest,
and what's it about?
A: Title: 'Exit Marlowe'
My story is set in the Elizabethan Era and is based on the life
of Christopher Marlowe ...
1593, Elizabethan England: In a turbulent time of wars, famine,
and religious persecution, Christopher Marlowe struggles to
balance his life as England's most popular playwright with his
duties as a government spy.
Suddenly, when he falls under suspicion of atheism, Marlowe fears
his many powerful enemies have launched a conspiracy to have him
With only a few days to clear his name, he quickly enlists the
aid of a young William Shakespeare – one of the few friends he
can still trust. Together, they race through Marlowe's tangled
life of crime, espionage, and noble connections to expose the
conspiracy and save him from the hangman's noose.
But will anything save a man as troubled as Marlowe?
Q: What made you enter this particular contest? Have you entered
any other contests with this script? If so, how did you do?
A: Although Writers On The Storm offers a generous list of
prizes, I mainly entered the competition because of the exposure
it offered my work around Hollywood. They have a very tempting
list of managers, agents, and production executives who will read
the winning script. In my mind, if a contest doesn’t promote its
scripts around Hollywood, there’s no real point in entering it.
‘Exit Marlowe’ has also placed in a number of other competitions:
Finalist – Writemovies International Screenwriting Contest (2007)
Semifinalist – Scriptapalooza (2007), PAGE International
Screenwriting Awards (2007), and the Tennessee Screenwriting
Association Contest (2007) Quarterfinalist – Nicholl Fellowships
(2006) and the Bluecat Screenplay Competition (2007)
Q: Were you satisfied with the adminstration of the contest? Did
they meet their deadlines? Did you receive all the awards that
A: It’s a very professionally run competition. I was always
emailed the results at every stage, and when I won first place
the contest organizer, Jim Cirile, phoned me specially to tell me
the exciting news.
The competition met most of its deadlines and quickly announced
new deadlines when they were a few days behind schedule. As long
as screenplay contests tell you when they have changed the
deadline, I don’t mind – it’s the competitions who don’t keep you
in the loop that I dislike.
Q: Were you given any feedback on your script? If so, did you
find the feedback helpful?
A: The competition offers a basic level of feedback to everyone
who enters. They send you an email with how your script scores in
categories like Structure, Dialogue, Story, and Originality, etc.
However, the contest reader also provides his/her brief comments
on the Strengths/Weakness of the script and also makes various
suggestions for improvement.
Overall, although it’s only short a critique, I found the
feedback to be a positive feature: it offered the views of an
experienced reader who had actually read the script (it’s easy to
tell when they don’t) and it gave me one or two useful points on
how to strengthen the story.
Q: Has your success in this contest helped you market your
script? Were you contacted by any agents, managers or producers?
A: It’s too early to tell yet… but Writers On The Storm have a
long list of contacts in the movie industry. Many of the names
are impressive and I’m confident that I will get at least some
contacts or meetings (as did the scripts who made it to the Top
Ten last year).
Q: What's your background? Have you written any other screenplays
or television scripts?
A: I have just graduated from Cal State Northridge with a Masters
Degree in Screenwriting. Apart from screenwriting itself, I am
also a novelist: I write my stories into both scripts and novels
and I have just completed ‘Exit Marlowe’ as a novel.
I have three other scripts written as part of my Masters Degree,
including an adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham’s classic novel
‘Of Human Bondage’ (this script has also placed in many
Currently, all my work is historical in genre: history is rich
with interesting characters and stories that stimulate the
imagination. I believe Hollywood has yet to really tap the
potential life and excitement of this genre.
Q: Do you live in Los Angeles? If not, do you have any plans to
A: Thankfully, I live in Santa Barbara, California which is only
a two-hour drive from LA. Thus, I can still attend meetings in
the city without actually having to live in all the smog, etc.
Q: What's next? Are you working on a new script?
A: Next, I plan to sell ‘Exit Marlowe’ the novel. I have a
literary agent in New York who represents many bestselling
authors and she will soon start submitting the manuscript to
publishers. Fingers crossed!
As for screenplays, I have another story in the works about the
life of Lord Nelson that I will turn into my next script and
Anyone interested can learn more about me and my work at my
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