Bev Gandara is inspirational. She is living proof that you can achieve your goals and find success no matter where you are in life. I’ve seen many writers throw in the towel and give up because they felt life passed them by. I myself can appreciate the path Bev has taken since I began my writing at a stage in my life when I was told it was too late and I was crazy for even trying. Bev is living proof that the only thing stopping you from success is you. Hard work, tenacity, and patience is what you need to make it in screenwriting. Bev has all of that in spades. I am so glad to introduce you to this mighty individual. This is Bev Gandara…
After retiring as an Administrative Assistant to some of New York’s leading executives in profit and non-profit organizations, I decided to pursue a long-buried dream of being a writer. I attended Brooklyn College and Marymount College before beginning my screenwriting studies at the Gotham Writers Workshop.
After my studies, I had set a goal to complete a screenplay, which I did and promptly placed it in a drawer as I did with several other scripts. In 2011, I discovered screenplay contests. By 2012 I had my red carpet moment at the Beverly Hills International Film Fest and won the Golden Palm Award for best screenplay with my script Rent Money. It was a great moment, black tie, red carpet, photographers and doors suddenly opened for me. Rent Money was then optioned, an exciting adventure!
I then adapted my screenplay Concrete Wings into a novel, which is a tale inspired by my husband’s adventures. It has gone on to earn the Literary Classics Seal of Approval and received a special mention in the New York Book Festival.
Q: How did you stumble upon screenwriting?
While strolling in Manhattan one Sunday afternoon, I was drawn to a young charismatic man handing out brochures for a screenwriting course given by the Gotham Writer’s Workshop in the basement of a Church. Good timing and pure luck.
Q: Who/what inspired you into taking this path?
Once I confided my desire to pursue writing to my husband, he encouraged me to take the course and promptly signed me up for a subscription to writer’s magazines. I was fascinated with the art of screenwriting and the challenge to tell a story with a minimal scene setting, character description and dialogue, translating movie time to a minute a page.
Q: Who was the first person who believed in you?
My husband, Armand who supported me on every level as I learned new skills and struggled towards my self-set goals. Together, we visited bookstores and libraries and read as much as we could about the art of screenwriting.
Q: What was the moment you knew you wanted to be a screenwriter?
When I realized how much I was influenced by well-told stories through motion pictures.
Q: How do you define success for yourself?
When I know in my gut I have written a well-crafted story and it is confirmed by a reader that he or she was eager to turn the page. That is all I ask of my readers. Did you want to turn the page to find out what happened next?
How do define success for your path you're on?
I set goals for myself and my success is in reaching those goals. My very first goal was to complete a screenplay. I did and promptly put it in a drawer having no idea whether it was good or not and hadn’t the slightest idea of what to do with it.
Q: Give us a typical day in your life:
My writing time at the computer begins about 6:00 AM and runs through 9:00 AM when I break for breakfast. I will go back to writing until lunchtime.
When I am through at the computer, which is usually between 4-6 hours the creative juices continue to flow in the form of thinking, planning and observing as we plan a fun outing which may include a visit to a museum, dinner with friends or simply grocery shopping. There is an opportunity in any venue with any person to hear a new phrase, learn a new fun fact or meet an interesting person. For me, every day is a stimulating adventure.
We usually have a snack break around 3-4:00 PM. Frozen desserts or protein bars are always on the menu. We’re generally off to the gym around 5:00 PM for a walk on the treadmill and for me a lightweight workout. If we don’t have plans to go out, we usually end the evening cuddled up on the couch in front of the TV watching an old or favorite movie.
My husband and I share our lives completely and he understands my need to create which includes privacy, a lot of self-talk out loud, laughter, paper rustling as I research, mild expletives reflecting frustration and pacing. He accepts all the chatter and noise with grace and dignity and in return, he is free to do whatever he likes during those times except vacuuming.
Q: What’s been the most important skill(s) you've developed on your path to screenwriting?
Balancing my creative life with my practical life, both of which require my full attention and complete commitment. I no longer dwell on the past, nor worry about the future. I stay in the present and allow my life to unfold as it must. Another skill is with constant study I continue to improve my writing ability. I’ve also developed a greater sense of self-confidence, clarity of the world around me and patience.
Q: What’s been the greatest challenge in your writing so far?
Believing in those who have over-promised and under-delivered. I have trusted those who appeared to have experience and a knowledge of the Hollywood system and promised to bring my projects to the screen but in the end were mere dreamers with no investors. No investors, no money. No money, no production. Just a lot of generated energy. But it was fun and a learning experience.
Q: What’s been the greatest reward in the choices you've made?
Having my work recognized and respected. Seeing the pride in my husband’s eyes.
Q: What do you want to learn from a community of your peers?
Their stories and how we as humans connect – our common ground.