Nich Esposito

What inspired you to become a screenwriter, and what keeps you motivated to keep writing?

From a very early age, I was always drawing. Cartoons, comics. Making hand-drawn murals based on pictures from my favorite books. Inventing creatures of my own design. Drawing, drawing, and more drawing. As I grew, I began to craft stories to go along with my drawings. Characters and worlds. Backdrops to vast landscapes, or simply silly little nonsense for the sake of pure absurdity. By the time I hit middle school, I was taking these ideas and filming poorly-staged shorts for various school projects with my classmates. In the eighth grade, after making a weird adaptation of a scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, my English teacher asked if I’d ever considered pursuing film and writing seriously. From then on, that’s all I did. I wound up going to the SUNY Purchase Dramatic Writing conservatory in 2008, studying for my undergrad with some of the finest writers and teachers I’ve met to this day. And that has truly been my greatest motivation. I do feel this inherent drive inside me to create, as evidenced by my drawing all those years ago. And I count myself lucky that it’s never gone dry. But having that pleasure to meet and grow with the peers I made in my college years, and the years I’ve shared with them and those I’ve met since, gives me such a desire to push on, and continue creating and growing and meeting more inspirational minds. It’s the juice.

Can you tell us about your writing process, from the initial idea to the final draft?

I don’t have one single process in regards to ideation and what goes from an idea to a full-on writing project. Sometimes my way in is an image. Other times it can be an inciting incident or specific character beat that springs into my mind. It’s rarely the same thing for different projects. But almost always, when an idea comes, and seems bigger than the ever-changing, non-stop mill of rapidfire pistons constantly firing off, you can feel it. It just sticks a little harder than the 900 other ideas that run through your mind at any moment. Whether it’s an image, or a story beat, like stated earlier, whatever it may be, it just seems to stand out in a way that you recognize. From there, the world around it starts to unfold, oftentimes for myself, by finding music that feels connected to the idea. I’ll start to make a playlist that functions as a pseudo-soundtrack for the story formulating in my mind, and with those sounds, I’ll find characters, settings, even whole scenes. Between music and a notebook for handwriting (I find writing by hand more engaging than typing), I’m able to jot and build and flesh things out until it feels like I have a real outline of a story, and then I continue in the notebook until I’ve finished a first draft. After the first draft is when I move to the computer to type, because then I feel like I’m already knee-deep in the work (It can be daunting to face a blank page on the computer with nothing but an inspired idea. Hitting that with a whole draft to transcribe allows you to edit from the first word typed). And from there, it’s rewriting: Showing it around. Getting notes. Seeing what works. What doesn’t. Molding, and molding, and pulling, and expanding. Turning the good idea, and probably bad script, into something really firm and sleek. “Bulletproof” is the word a teacher used to use that always stuck with me. Your idea is you. And drama works. So turning your good ideas into real dramatic scenes with purpose and beats of action is the actual work after the initial drafts.

How do you approach creating characters, and what techniques do you use to develop them?

I tend to approach characters from a perspective of “drive.” Give them a want (what drives their decisions in any given situation) and a need (what they actually require to grow and achieve their goal/happiness, usually in direct opposition to their want). After that, I find something to function as an antagonist to both their want and their need, and the connecting story becomes a fallout of beats made up of obstacles directly associated with the stated want and need. Any character can work with this mindset, as every scene requires actions to be experienced from some standpoint, so from the minorest minor to main-iest main characters, creating these metrics allows them to function fully.

Can you share with us a bit about your latest project and the story behind it?

I’m actively pitching two projects at the moment, as well as trying to negotiate a deal with the current option-holders for a particular book I’ve written an adaptation of. The projects being pitched are both series — one an absurd puppet/live action hybrid, the other a cartoon about a made-up metropolis and the lunatic characters littering its streets. Anyone interested in inquiring about the pitches can contact

What do you think sets your writing apart from others in the industry, and how do you showcase your unique voice?

I feel I have a penchant for the absurd — particularly bringing absurdity to a place where it feels fully realized and actual. I like to craft realities that run parallel to our own, with rule-sets similar to ours, but using elements just different enough to highlight how silly our own are, and in turn, how truly silly everything around us is. I like to make audiences feel connected and comforted by the denominators underneath it all. Behind the veil, so to speak. I love to laugh, and aim to make my audiences do so often, and feel that not many denominators connect on such a base level as humor. Humor and music, really. As well, I believe one of my real strengths is dialogue, so taking all those prior points and aiming them through characters dialoguing is ultimately my bread and butter. Despite having a Lyme-induced gluten intolerance, no less.

How do you balance your personal creative vision with the needs of producers, directors, and other collaborators?

It took a little time for me to get better at pulling away from some of the less-marketable, more transgressive parts of my creative vision over the years. As I’ve grown, I feel I’ve really gained an understanding of the scope of what plays for certain audiences and what doesn’t for others. That being said, I can vehemently say that some of the instances in which I was encouraged to veer away from certain instincts, but instead stuck to my guns — are some of the most successful or seemingly “correct” decisions I’ve made in my creative/professional career thus far. Not always. But more than more than once. Mostly, I try to always remember that this is the collaborative process, and anything that’s going to get done requires true collaboration (in addition to just like, usually finding the best version of things after work-shopping it with brilliant minds).

Can you talk about a particularly challenging moment you faced while working on a project and how you overcame it?

While filming my short film “speaking.” (Cannes Film Festival SFC 2021, FilmShortage Daily Short Pick), we had over twenty-two people at any given time camped out in the desert of Anza, CA for the better part of six days, in the midst of the Santa Ana winds, and countless other curveballs whipped by everyone’s favorite lawman Murphy. It was hot, windy, smelly, and downright difficult to keep momentum and get everything over the line. But the way we did was by adapting. Whenever something arose that seemed it could derail us, we course-corrected and moved in a direction that our circumstances allowed. And that really seems to be my tagline as a creator the more I do what I do. “Using what you have at your disposal to make what you need in the most unique way possible.”

How do you see the role of screenwriting in the film industry evolving, and how do you see yourself fitting into that future?

I think the streaming revolution has changed the role of screenwriting in that a writer’s expectations are now often tied to not only scripts they write but pitches and breakdowns and demos and social media and so many more elements. With so many people interested in writing for the screen, and so many universities and programs offering training, the onus is really on the writer more than ever to write something that can be seen as sellabe or marketable or “made” in some way or another. And in a clogged pool, it can be hard to stick out. I think follow-through and believing in your voice will always remain the most important things you can do. If you really feel like you have something to say, that’s your capital. I’m somebody who has always felt the need to build a close-knit team with belief in the wacky world-building madness that I or other members of the crew are coming up with, and that’s why I think we work in the new frontier. We have a full-package, one-stop-shop team of comedy production makers who love to laugh together and create truly unique content.

Can you share any advice or tips for emerging screenwriters who are just starting out?

The best piece of advice I can give is to keep going. Keep reading. Keep writing. Keep watching. Keep listening. Keep working at it and always trying to grow. If you really want it, you’ll stick with it. And if you stick with it long enough, things will happen.

Finally, what are your long-term goals as a screenwriter, and what legacy do you hope to leave in the industry?

My long-term goals as a screenwriter are to sustain a working career writing for the screen, for the stage, in literary and graphic contexts, and to continue making art and performing comedy for the rest of my life. I would love to produce or sell the scripts I am currently shopping around, and would love to continue writing for an audience who wants to laugh and connect. I hope my work is remembered as something that spoke honestly and made people see the absurdity of our fears and looming concerns. All in all, I hope to bring joy into the world — and make a few people laugh along the way.