Q&A with Scott Gore
by Beverly Nault
On June 29th, local filmmaker and director Mitesh Patel premiered his latest movie, Instant Karma, at LOOK Cinema in Chandler.
Phoenix Screenwriter Association’s own Scott Gore wrote the screenplay and graciously offered to answer questions about the process writing this entertaining film now streaming in many outlets.
A young man hits rock bottom as a ride share driver when his car breaks down, his life changes when he magically gets new things every day in his car. His turn around starts with one good deed to a homeless man which results in him being rewarded multiple times more. This new found good luck is like an incredible wave that he wants to ride for all it’s worth, but he’s afraid it will end, and it does, several times, but then it starts back up again. If he can only figure out what’s causing it.
PSA: How did you get involved with Instant Karma?
SCOTT: It started with an email from Tammy McDaniel, Phoenix Independent Film Group, saying a local director was looking for a screenplay and to send in loglines for his consideration. So, I sent them for two features and one short, and Mitesh liked my short and asked to see the screenplay for the short which is called RESET about a father and daughter who magically go back in time and have a chance to reset their tragic life. He liked it and asked if I could write it as a feature in a hurry. I said yes, not knowing if I could and we met to discuss how. He gave me a contract and I ended up writing the first draft, 82 pages in four days.
Then I volunteered to work on the set of one of his films for 3 days as a PA (Production Assistant) and it was 3 all-nighters, and then the next day he asked me to do re-writes for Instant Karma. A few days later he just asked me to write my own version of it.
PSA: How long was the process from first contact to principal photography?
SCOTT: I wrote the first draft of Instant Karma in one week and then we did rewrites for another week and then we did the casting call and then started filming a week or so later and I was doing rewrites during that time as well, so it all happened very quickly.
PSA: I understand this wasn’t a spec script, but an original work that Mitesh wanted written, how much of the process were you on your own and how much did Mitesh have input?
SCOTT: Mitesh had a one- or two-page outline of the story with the main characters that was pretty locked in, but the main character was a ride share driver, so I had to make up all of the riders that he took around and I think it was 8 of them. I was also able to develop the characters the way I felt best suited them and the story and then we’d go over it with Mitesh’s input and I’d make adjustments.
PSA: Were you involved in any of the production decisions as the writer?
SCOTT: Only in the sense that I could write scenes in locations that I thought would look good visually as well as help tell the story like at Sloan Park where the Cubs play Spring Ball.
PSA: Did you have many notes and changes after principal photography began?
SCOTT: I made some changes after I sat in on the casting call. Just hearing different people do the lines differently helped me re-write the lines of dialogue to make them sound more realistic.
PSA: Were you on set for all or any of the filming?
SCOTT: I was on the set one day as an extra in the coffee shop. You can see the back of my head in one scene if you squint. 🙂 I was also on set another day as a PA and met a bunch of the cast and drove them around and got them waters and meals, etc.
PSA: Since principal photography took place during the Covid pandemic, what was it like filming during quarantine?
SCOTT: It didn’t seem to slow us down much. I do remember having them take my temperature the days I was on set when I arrived.
PSA: How long did principal photography take?
SCOTT: That was all done in 10 days.
PSA: Did you learn anything about writing that you’ll remember and use you on your next project?
SCOTT: I hope so. 🙂 I’m sure there are lots of things, but I think one of the main ones is writing action descriptions. I think of how to make it easy for the Director and Director of Photography (DP) to get the shots. I also learned the importance of collaboration and having strong ideas and also being flexible. I think because we both had a lot of input the movie came out better.
PSA How did being an involved and active member of Phoenix Screenwriters help you? When did you first join? Have you been writing long, and if so, in what media?
SCOTT: Being in PSA made all this possible. Four years ago, I had done nothing in screenwriting. I bought some books, read them, watched some videos and went to as many PSA meetings as possible. I learned something new every time and I met so many great people that helped me and encouraged me. The PSA workshops and In the Works meetings help so much hearing my stuff read out loud and then getting helpful feedback.
PSA: What’s your proudest moment from this project?
SCOTT: I guess I’m proud about how fast I was able to write it and do the rewrites while still holding down another full-time job.
PSA: Any advice for others interested in working with an indie director?
SCOTT: Write some good stuff whether it is features or shorts. My short got Mitesh’s attention, and then I was able to write it as a feature in a hurry and that got his attention, and then I volunteered for three days of shooting (all overnighters) and that got his attention, and then he asked me to do rewrites and I shared what I wanted to do and that got his attention, and then he asked me to write the script. So, you see, it was all incremental. One step at a time. Also, join groups and get out and network and meet people and develop your people skills. You need to be a good writer, but you also need to be able to work well with people.
PSA: What’s your next project?
SCOTT: Next projects are Albert, a spec script about Albert Einstein. I just finished rewrites and it is 157 pages and today I just started an outline for the next film with Mitesh called Christmas Karma. he gave me a 2-page outline that I’ll develop into a 10–12-page outline to write the script from. I’m working with my son, Alex, on this one.
PSA: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us, and congratulations on Instant Karma, it’s very entertaining, humorous, and thought-provoking. Well done!
About Beverly Nault: Beverly Nault was a technical writer for an aerospace software company before she began writing creatively for publication. In 2011, her first novel, Fresh Start Summer, and memoir Lessons from the Mountain, What I Learned from Erin Walton, written with actor Mary McDonough, both released. Since then, Bev’s had ten novels and several short stories published. She’s been a freelance editor for fiction and non-fiction writers, a first reader for a literary agency, and staff acquisitions editor for the literary journal, Eastern Iowa Review. Bev lives in Mesa with her husband Gary where she dabbles in tennis, and excels at spoiling their three grandchildren.