Tiffany L. Coleman

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

I was inspired to become a screenwriter because I wanted to tell my own stories. I wanted to see my people represented, in settings I was familiar with. I also do it because I want to make an impact on the world through film and television.

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

After I put it off for weeks at a time, I sit down and start typing. I visualize what I want to see on screen and try to note every detail. The goal is just to get one draft done. Once I get that one draft done, I walk away for a while and come back to it with fresh eyes and make my first round of corrections. After that, I bring friends in to read it and get feedback. After that, I find someone who has been doing this longer than me to read it and that’s when it gets heavy but I know not to take the critique personally because they just want to make it the best it can be.

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

Characters are sometimes a challenge for me but being a visual person, I have found that creating a look book or creating a pitch deck to be really helpful because once I can see the character, I can write them. I’m always asking myself “what does this character want?” Once I figure that out, then it’s just about figuring out the means to get them their desire but doing it, creatively.

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

I am a seminary grad and The Breaking Point comes from that. So often people don’t think clergy are people but they are. They’re faulty, have issues, make mistakes, etc. I wrote this to bring that to light and to hopefully create discussion about clergy and mental illness because that’s a real issue. I’ve heard of stories of church leaders killing themselves due to their mental health issues and that can’t be and it’s not just clergy I’m concerned about when it comes to that… no one should take their own life. Get help first.

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

I try to write with my whole heart and do things that are meaningful to me. I’m my own person with my own views and perspectives on life and the world and I hope that comes through in my work.

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

We all have to compromise. I believe it’s important to align yourself with people who care about the project just as much as you do and try to find common ground on things. As writers, we have to realize that once we share our project with the producers, executives, etc., it no longer just belongs to me, it belongs to all of us.

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

Navigating personalities is always interesting on set. I encountered someone who had a “rough” exterior and I needed him to do me a favor. So we started to chat a bit, nothing fancy, just weather talk. Eventually, I started asking him questions about himself. What did he? How did he become interested in it? And before you know it, we were cracking jokes with one another and are still friends to this day. And I got what I needed from him. It’s all about seeing people as they are without judgement.

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

I believe the future is diverse and digital. I believe we’re living in it right now. I can go to the movies every night and never have to leave my house if I don’t want to (that could be a good and bad thing). I believe there will be more room for ALL people and not just some and I believe that one day all art will reflect life and life will reflect art as it truly is and not what we want it to be.

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

OUTLINE! OUTLINE! OUTLINE! Outline your script. It saves you so much time. Learn as much as you can about this craft, become a sponge, watch all the films you can from every genre and don’t be afraid to go international. Inspiration comes from everywhere.

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

My goals are to continue to grow as a screenwriter and I would love to be a major player in the industry. To continue to write scripts that are interesting, unique and authentic to my voice. I also hope that my legacy will be that I gave it my EVERYTHING and wrote with my whole heart.