You have to be open to feedback and not let it get you down if it’s different than what you expected. Take the lesson and move on with what makes sense. It doesn’t mean you are not a good writer.
As a part of our series about Inspirational Women In Hollywood, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Laura McLaughlin.
Laura McLaughlin is a screenwriter who was born and raised in New England. She lived in several cities on both the East and West coasts before calling Los Angeles her home. Along the way she’s always had a passion for telling stories, especially ones that involved themes of justice and redemption. In “The Place We Hide,” Laura explores how our choices in life directly impact us and who we choose to become. “The Place We Hide” is Laura’s first produced feature and will be available for rent on iTunes, Amazon Prime Video Direct, Google Play, Vudu, Fandango and more.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in a small town in New Hampshire in a house my grandpa built. I was a shy kid with a huge imagination, fueled by a constant stream of tv and movies. I have this memory of listening to my “Muppet Movie” soundtrack, singing into my hairbrush along with Kermit the Frog about the Rainbow Connection, and dreaming about Hollywood where they made all the shows and movies I so loved.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I moved a lot as a kid and was often the new girl in school. My imagination got me through any uncertain moments due to shyness, and I’d write short stories to entertain myself. English was always my favorite subject and any art class like photography. I earned a degree in photography in fact. Those two worlds of writing and photography are blended together in filmmaking, so naturally I was drawn to it.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Working on “The Place We Hide,” since it is my first produced feature. I wrote the concept as a short, and then expanded it to a feature. Developing a feature length script with Erik Bernard was like getting to take a master class. Because he’s the director and producer, it was an invaluable experience to see how his mind worked while planning the entire film. I’ve learned so much from him and I’m truly grateful!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I wrote a novel back in my twenties and sent it to an editor in New York after they responded to my query letter. The feedback made me realize that the manuscript wasn’t ready and I had a lot more work to do as a writer. Later, I noticed that I had a character in the story during the 1920’s singing a song that wouldn’t be released until — 1960. Whoops! I felt foolish and learned the hard lesson of the need to do your research.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There have been so many along the way that I wish I could list them all. I’m most grateful to my husband Frank, who has been extremely supportive from the very beginning. He’s done everything he can to make sure I keep moving towards my dreams. Back in the early days he’d make notes on my scripts and I’d see little smiley faces next to the things he especially liked. I’d always look forward to finding them!
You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
You only fail if you don’t try. After I sent that novel to NY and was discouraged by the feedback, I put it away and gave myself writer’s block for about ten years. Then, once I got over myself and embraced being a writer, I almost put the short I wrote of “The Place We Hide” in a drawer, unsure if I should share it with anyone. What a mistake that would have been. You have to get out of your own way sometimes. Keep focused and move forward, celebrate the small wins along the way, and be grateful to everyone who helps you.
What drives you to get up everyday and work in TV and Film? What change do you want to see in the industry going forward?
I feel my purpose in life is to tell stories that resonate with people, that inspire and comfort as well as entertain. I’d like to see more diversity in front of and behind the camera. We need to hear from everyone!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?
I have a few thriller scripts I’m working on and also a limited TV Series with a supernatural twist, “Voodoo Kings” that is in development with TLG Motion Pictures. I see myself moving more into producing and helping others see their dreams comes to light.
We are very interested in looking at diversity and representation in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have representation in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture and our youth growing up today?
1. Picture having a party and you only talk to two guests. That’s how I see the importance of diversity. We need to hear from and have a dialogue with everyone. It fosters compassion, understanding and most importantly — communication. Our lives become fuller because of it.
2. You will have a wide range of stories to draw from only when everyone is able to have their experiences heard. There isn’t just one way to see the world, and it’s fascinating to find out how others are moving through this thing called life.
3. Diversity and representation ensures that our youth growing up can see the full picture of what the life experience can be, not just a skewed version.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. You have to be open to feedback and not let it get you down if it’s different than what you expected. Take the lesson and move on with what makes sense. It doesn’t mean you are not a good writer.
2. Movies are a collaborative process, you as the writer are creating a blueprint for so many other creative minds to then take and heighten. It’s really an amazing thing. You can’t be too attached to what you write and be prepared to change things based on many different reasons.
3. Be patient. The timing of things may not be as fast as you think it should be.
4. Networking is extremely important, putting yourself out there may be hard but if you can overcome it, you find many allies and friends.
5. Doubt will set in but you have to move past it. Fear has no place. Fear to me stands for “Face Everything And Rise.”
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I have a great quote on my inspiration board in my house that sums it up — ”Be Open to What Comes Next”. It grounds me and keeps me from worrying about the future, because whenever I remember that bit of advice and just get out of my own head, things seem to fall into place. Trust that “future you” will handle whatever comes.
If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
A movement that results in people looking at one another and celebrating their differences while finding common ground.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Drew Barrymore, because she exudes creativity and inspiration. In the middle of a pandemic she’s launched a talk show! She is a champion for women and children.
Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?
This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!