Hidden behind that knowing smile is a true gem of a screenwriter. You see, Kristy is a talented, driven, and hard-working individual. But that’s not what separates her from the pack. The real secret behind Kristy is that she is a woman of grace. When she enters a room, it is filled by her presence. A rare gift indeed and she has it in spades. Never one to let her impressive achievements get the best of her, Kristy stays grounded and true to her roots. This is why I am excited to introduce her to you.
This is Kristy Leigh Lussier…
It’s safe to my path in filmmaking has been blessed. I am fortunate to be a multi-award winning screenwriter and actress. This has allowed me to produce and contribute to over twenty short/feature independent films, and to have worked on/off camera for major studio features. I was a former volunteer and staff member with South by Southwest Film & Music Festival, I also worked in event planning for the last 15 years, and have an extensive background in festival coordination, film festival programming and I’m the Co-Founder of the Boise Film Festival.
I truly believe everyone has a story to tell. As a screenwriter, it's my duty to give characters a voice and bring their words to the screen. Viewers attach to characters in their own way, which helps give understanding and meaning to one's own everyday life. As a messenger, my job is to make sure the audience falls in love, hates, cries, fears and embraces elements of the script. Only then will I know I've done my job in telling the right story"
Q: How did you stumble upon screenwriting?
As crazy as this sounds… when I was 12 years old I woke up from a really vivid dream that stuck with me for days. In this dream, a young girl and her brother are running from the mafia after acquiring an old briefcase that had evidence of a crime hidden in it. I decided I needed to write the dream as a story and I could already see it as a movie in my head. So off to the library I went, searching for any and all resources that would teach me how to write a screenplay. I spent over a year practicing and writing until I had my first full draft of 80 pages and I was only 13 years old. After that… I just kept going. I found a way to paint pictures from my head onto paper and I wanted to see how much more I could create.
Q: Who/what inspired you into taking this path?
I have always been a lover of film and cinema. As a child, my Dad worked a job where he traveled a majority of the time and was rarely home. On the few days when he was, we would have our special Dad/daughter time together. He would take me to eat pizza for lunch and we would catch an afternoon matinee, just the two of us. I began to associate my love of movies with those special times I had with my Dad. As I grew, I wanted to expand my writing and create awesome stories just like the ones I got to see all those years on screen.
Q: Who was the first person who believed in you?
My mom. She always knew I would be a writer and be famous someday. She just had this instinct about things and was one of the first people to make sure I had every opportunity I could to follow my dreams. In the early 90's we lived in Albuquerque, NM. Film was just starting to boom somewhat in the area, and there were some casting calls for extras on two upcoming productions in town. I wanted to go so badly, and my mom could see in my eyes how much it meant. So she piled me into the car and off we went to be extras on the sets for Natural Born Killers and The Cowboy Way. Being on a major motion picture set like that when you are so young is awe-inspiring. It only made my drive and determination stronger in my path to working in film. Recently, my mom passed away and there was a devastating moment when I realize she would never get to see one of my feature scripts on screen. But I keep going for her, knowing she's looking down still cheering me on as I write.
Q: What was the moment you knew you wanted to be a screenwriter?
In 2001 I placed in the Top 250 for the second season of Project Greenlight. Up until that point, my endeavors in writing were always more self-fulfilling and at the time I still had not learned much about what it would take to be a true, working screenwriter. I submitted a script I had been building on for years. When my notice came about the placement and the peer feedback reviews were sent to me -- I was shocked at how well the script was received. But it was one particular comment that cemented the decision to pursue this full time. A reader said how amazed they were at the strong character development I had, and that each character had their own voice which was clear and unique. Though the reader would not have particularly chosen that genre they were so attached to the characters, they kept reading because they wanted to find out what happened at the end. That was it - I knew I wanted to do this because I have all these characters in my head and it's my job to tell their story - and to tell it well. I took it as a call to action and dove into learning more about the inner workings of the industry.
Q: How do you define success for yourself?
To me success is not giving up and that I always keep writing. There are times when it's tough, when the everyday rat race can weigh you down and when it seems like nothing is moving forward in so many aspects of your life/career. But you have to keep trying. And writing. And sending out your work. Put out into the universe what you are meant to give. When I can see I've built a body of work-multiple scripts and films-I feel like I am succeeding in always providing content and continually being a storyteller. Receiving wonderful feedback, winning/placing in contests, getting work optioned or even being sought out to write for someone else. -- Those are the successful bits that solidify to me that I am on the right path. I must be giving readers a story worth telling, so all the more reason to keep moving forward, and never stop sending out your work.
Q: Give us a typical day in your life:
Are you an Early Bird or a Night Owl?
Night Owl! For a number of reasons but the major one being my significant other is an insomniac, so I find myself up at all hours of the night doing God only knows what. We could be writing, or binge watching a show or at times researching ideas on a new script/story. Or prepping for a film shoot the next day. And eating junk food. Way too much of it.
What's the first thing you do when you wake up?
Hit snooze. Or check the time. Something phone related, which is probably extremely unhealthy, but sadly we have all become addicted to those little electronic handcuffs called cell phones.
What do you do during the day?
On weekends, we do a lot of work with our local film community, so we may be helping on a film set or shooting our own stuff. There are also some screenwriting groups that meet in town and film groups that have workshops frequently, so we attend those as much as we can. Plus I eat junk food. Sugar. Candy. It's awful.
What do you do at night?
Try to get stuff done that I did not even come close to finishing during the day. Or sometimes starting the day at 6pm! On those rare occasions, I realize I have been on the computer and doing work all day that I haven't even cleaned a dish, cooked a meal or started laundry. So 6pm it is then!
Do you have a pre-bed ritual?
The usual - close off the electronics, get the jammies on and rest for a few moments, talking to each other about our days. I am also horribly addicted to eating something sweet right before bed. I have a problem, I need an intervention.
How do you define a successful day?
I LOVE "To-Do" lists, so if I can check off some, if not all the items, I feel super excited that I accomplished my goals for the day.
Q: What's been the greatest challenge in your writing so far?
Making sure the character arc (or Hero's journey) is clear, concise and prevalent through the narrative. As an audience/reader we need to see and feel these characters go on a journey and experience the highs/lows of their path. I always want to make sure the voice and message are strong and there's some level of conclusion for these characters at the end of the story.
Q: What's been the greatest reward in the choices you've made?
I always wanted to make my family & friends proud. For me, my scripts have elements of my own personal life woven into the fabric of the script, and anytime I have been able to touch a reader in a good way or open the mind/eyes of someone to a new experience, I feel like it's my way of paying tribute to those in my life who have helped me get to where I am today.
Q: What do you want to learn from a community of your peers?
Any and everything! Seriously: I am so excited to have the opportunity to learn new skills, gain insight and gather new tools to add to my writing box! I love to hear of others successes and even when they have had failures there is always a lesson to learn. Connecting with peers - being able to share how/when/where we have all been and what has worked or hasn't? It helps me grow, changes perspective, challenges thinking and builds a stronger brand for myself as a screenwriter.