Writing isn’t only for novelists or poets. Screenwriters are writers, too! Below is an interview with Steven Jay, the writer and creator of an upcoming web-series called Hypervision, which is about four friends who embark on fantastical imaginary adventures. We’re excited to share this with you, our readers, because one of our very own editors, Elena, worked on the set of the series trailer! Check it out here and if you like what you see, support the campaign to get this series off the ground! For more fun, here’s an excerpt from the script of the first episode!
Born and raised in the UK, Steve began his career in the entertainment business as an Opera Singer at the age of 12. Various theatrical endeavors led him to earn a Bachelors Degree in Theatre at University. Steve’s next big step was to invest in a DSLR camera, the ultimate tool that assisted him in creating short comedic sketches, gaining a following on YouTube through the name “Slightly Steve”. An interest in filmmaking was developed, and urged him to move to Los Angeles to earn a Master’s Degree in Film & Media Production. Nowadays Steve is still performing and singing in both theatrical and film productions, as well as working on his own projects – most noticeable his upcoming comedic / action / fantasy series “Hypervision”.
Can you tell us a little bit about Hypervision? How did you get this project up and running?
Hypervision is a comedic / action / fantasy series following four unlikely friends who rebel against being “boring” adults and instead have crazy adventures powered by their own child-like imaginations.
For instance, remember when you played “The Floor is Lava”? Well in episode 1, the floor is lava! And our heroes must jump on surfaces to escape. In episode 2, a cardboard box becomes a ship. In episode 3, they tackle a monster underneath a child’s bed. You get the gist.
My co-producer, Quinn (our logical-thinking organized super hero), my director, Meghan (our multi-talented, modest & caring angel) and I fully cast & produced the series trailer to capture and pitch the voice of Hypervision to the world, which you can see at igg.me/at/hypervision.
What sort of writing do you do? Screenplays? Novels? Short stories? Why do you prefer this format over the others?
I mostly enjoy screenplay writing, because in film, assuming you have the imagination (and maybe the budget), there’s no limit to what you can show an audience.
What or who influenced you to start writing?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I’m inspired by comedy – but it has to be CLEVER. I mostly feel motivated when I’m laughing at a joke that makes sense within the narrative, or that makes me think. My filmmaking and writing heroes include Edgar Wright, Mitchell & Webb, Trey Parker & Matt Stone, and so many more.
What inspired you to write something like Hypervision?
Three years ago I lived a life of routine – every day I would go to work and wait to go home, then go home and wait to go to work. I became somewhat emotionally numb. One day after work I visited a playground. No one was around, so I began to play like any child would. Playing brought back so much forgotten excitement and ambition, which led me to pursue a life in Los Angeles and become a filmmaker. And all I had to do was use my imagination.
“Hypervision” begs the question – why can’t we as adults have responsibilities AND adventures everyday?
Can you describe your writing process?
I often get bursts of writing energy, which can come from either watching a really awesome episode of a TV show, or from the perfect balance of time and coffee.
Each episode must have: a child-like phenomenon; a moment that makes people go “wow”; an unthinkable antagonist; and a fun final battle.
The characters have developed so much over the years that once these rules have been applied, they find a way of falling into the episode, and have different reactions / story arcs depending on these core elements.
After I’ve written a first draft of an episode, I like to show off to my friends. I’m sure they find it annoying.
Did you learn anything from writing this script? What surprised you?
There are many things I’ve learned from writing Hypervision. One is to make sure you always stick to the point in a scene, and don’t try to add something for the sake of making it funny. If you have the mentality and the strong characters, the humor will come and fit nicely into the scene without taking anything away.
Writing fighting sequences is always a fun challenge – again it’s all about sticking to the point. Don’t go too into details – leave that for production.
What was it like seeing your words come to life on camera?
I remember when I first wrote a film and directed my actors. There’s a surreal buzz that makes you feel accomplishment for a long time. However, I also have social anxiety, so I often feel guilty for making someone say or do something in a film (even if there’s nothing wrong with it), and I panic that it’s not good enough. But I know that’s just my personal issues that I’ll deal with. Once the film is finished though, I’m ALWAYS extremely satisfied with the outcome.
Did you go to school for writing? If so, what was the most significant thing you learned there?
I studied Theatre in England, and Filmmaking in Los Angeles. Both courses had writing elements. The most important thing I learned is – there is no right or wrong way to tell a story. Everyone has an opinion, and most people feel the need to say it (even if you didn’t ask for it). So only accept feedback if you do want it. Otherwise, believing in your project (despite what others think) is so SO important.
How do you keep yourself on track and focused when you sit down to write?
Halfway through writing I may run out of steam. If that happens I take a break and listen to music, think about something else for a while. If you’re passionate enough, the motivation comes back to you.
Did you ever encounter someone who told you that you wouldn’t succeed as a writer? How did you handle this discouragement and what advice would you give to aspiring writers in a similar situation?
I was once told that I would “probably never make it in TV”. That hit me hard, because it came from someone I considered a friend. I think they thought they were trying to be encouraging. I spoke to others about it – friends, family, they all thought it was outrageous. Turns out they were wrong after all – I’m already half way there.
It sounds cliche, but sometimes people do put you down because they have an itch in their life they need to scratch. It’s their issue, and they’re dealing with it badly. So…just don’t listen.
Characters often find themselves in situations they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
I was recently in a situation where I was close to being romantically involved with a girl – only to discover that I wasn’t interested. I felt pressured by her, so instead of being an adult and mature about it, I actually became a coward and ran away.
I’m still learning from my errors, and I’m embarrassed. However, what I LOVE about creating characters is their imperfections. Characters that make mistakes are the most interesting and relatable. We can learn alongside our characters.
What else are you involved in when you’re not busy with Hypervision?
You mean…the outside world?! *shudders* Well right now I’m playing the lead in the theatrical musical “Hair”, opening December 9th. I’m also involved in other short film & web series projects – doing directing, acting, and editing roles.
Do you have any helpful resources for writers that you’d like to share?
Take advantage of free stuff – Adobe Story is a great, free online screenwriting tool. Use a thesaurus from time-to-time. Watch fun YouTube videos made by fresh-minded video creators. I would recommend a book or something, but honestly the best tool is your imagination. Never limit it.
How can readers get in touch with or follow you on social media?
Anything else you’d like to add?
Unleash your inner child, don’t be a slave to routine. Make your life a fun adventure.
Support Hypervision today at igg.me/at/hypervision – where you can find loads of fun rewards, along with the series trailer.
Thank you so much for reading and have an awesome day.