Step one, find the right idea.
Big Time Adolescence is a feature close to director Jason Orley's heart, and why shouldn't it be? In addition to making its world premiere at Sundance back in January, the film has the unique distinction of being the first screenplay he ever wrote. It's not often that the first thing you write ends up being your first feature.
But the fact that this is Orley's first feature is not from lack of trying. In the process of achieving this seemingly unachievable feat, Orley penned multiple scripts with the goal of "proving he could write." A few of them, including Big Time Adolescence ended up on The Black List. And if you don't know what The Black List is, it's time to get familiar, because it's an accolade that could end up changing your screenwriting career forever.
That's what ended up happening for Orley in any case. Adolescence tells the story suburban teenager comes of age under the destructive guidance of his best friend, an aimless college dropout. That dropout is played by none other than Saturday Night Live standout Pete Davidson, who in addition to joining the film as an executive producer, turns in a star-confirming performance.
I sat down with Orley at Sundance to discuss the basics of writing to prove you can write, what The Black List can do for your career, using the star of your film as your greatest collaborator, and more.
For more, see our ongoing list of coverage of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.