Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist (Ged Maybury)

What’s your name? Where were you born? Where do you live? And what’s your hobby?

I am now known by my stage-name, Ged Maybury (surname by marriage). Born Christchurch, New Zealand and my childhood in Dunedin (‘a suburb of Antarctica’). Born a child-prodigy in graphic art but falsely assessed at 5 as intellectually impaired. – Cue an interesting journey through the education system to being a School-Dux in 1971. (I was in fact autistic: Asperger’s Syndrome.)

Where did you come up with the concept that just placed as Finalist in the screenplay contest? How long did it take you to develop it into the screenplay it is now?

The first ideas for “Goodbye, Ted” began some 20 years ago, originally as a movie treatment: “Ashes to Ashes”. Too daunting; so I deliberately narrowed it down to an achievable 10min Short. It all swung on the idea of being left with someone’s ashes … someone nasty! How might his survivor(s) ‘honor’ him after his convenient demise?

From concept to finished draft, can you take us through your screenwriting process?

No. I know nothing of ‘formulas’ or ‘beats’. My brain just can’t do it. I’ve written some 30 books now, and they’re almost entirely instinctual. My screenplays advance in the same way; a lot like those ‘Age of Empires’ foggy-landscape games. My creative instinct “hunts” for the best path forwards, it tests each one, writes a chapter, pulls the characters forwards .. until it’s lost. I backtrack and try other bearings. And I usually find the prize: An Ending! (Or don’t. Some books never get finished.)

When did you realize that you wanted to become a screenwriter?

No such realization occurred. I still do not think in that way. It was the same in my career as a children’s writer. I had two hugely-successful books out in print before the thought finally arrived in my brain: “Hey: maybe I could do this as a career!

Who are your biggest filmmaking/screenwriting influences? What about their style do you like or borrow?

I don’t have any. I haven’t studied them. If I had to pick, I’d say it’s that “Incredibles” guy: Brad Bird. An impeccable-shaped story where nearly every scene is doing eight different things simultaneously! Genius!!

Have you ever been obsessed with a movie or TV show? If so, which one? Why?

“Millennium Actress” by Satoshi Kon. It constantly folds Reality and Time back over itself, over and over and over again until my brain is so bamboozled that it stops trying to analysis and begins to emote. I always cry.

What’s your favorite moment in cinema history? Why?

The arrival of ‘Catbus’ (“My Neighbor Totoro”)! I was in a cinema with one other person, I knew nothing about the movie, I was following the subtitles, fully engaged, and this GLORIOUS whacky fantasy-creature just suddenly gallops into the scene. Blew my mind! I was delirious with joy!

Who’s your favorite character in cinema history? Why?

Chihiro/Sen in “Spirited Away”. An ordinary kid dropped into a magical world who reacts as anyone would for starters: terrified, helpless, grief-stricken … But increment by increment she finds the courage to set off on a bizarre and perplexing mission .. Still real, still emotionally trammelled, yet she somehow navigates the entire journey, finds her own inner resources, innovates, makes friends and gains allies – entirely due to her authenticity! And triumphs – not in saving the world, just restoring her parents, to the delight of every Being in that spirit-world. Sen: as tough-assed as they come!

If you could talk to anyone from any era, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Neil Armstrong. I’d say: “Tell me that terrible joke about being on the moon.”