Write several screenplays and work on several genres. Once again don’t put all the eggs in one basket. There are many producers in search of fresh material out there, seeking in various genres and budgets. Working on several scripts will multiply your chances.
As a part of my interview series with popular culture stars, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jordan Tate. Jordan is a productive and produced screenwriter with a strong interest in thrillers, tormented characters and stories based on actual events. Her work has been influenced by Alfred Hichcock, James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton, Christopher Nolan and Stanley Kubrick. She loves to put her audience and readers on the wrong track with characters who are never what they seem to be. She often quotes the legendary movie “King Kong”as being behind her vocation. She has worked with both European and USA filmmakers and had several screenplays optioned in the past few years.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Hi, and thank you so much for having me! Actually I think that what really brought me to this specific career path is my need of dreams…Of reinventing the world around me. I first fell in love with movies and the film world when I first saw John Guillermin’s King Kong, the 1976 version with Jessica Lange, I think I was 6 years old. This this tale combined everything I loved most, animals, New York, and cinema…That’s when I first found out the impact a film could have on someone, I remember the child I was crying at the end of the film. And I knew I will never forget this experience, the first time watching King Kong. Then, I watched Titanic, in 1998. In October 1998, for the first time. My Father brought me a collector edition of the film including cards, film cell and the film screenplay. Titanic had a huge impact on me, I was in tears when I finished watching it. Such as King Kong so many years ago, I knew Titanic had been a life changing experience for me. So I read the script, I wanted to know how the magic could take shape. How a film was described take and how to write a script. This is the first time I learned it, and I started writing my first screenplays in 1999. I never stopped since. My first feature script was a serial killer feature titled “Carnival” and taking place in Venice Italy.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Seeing my name on the screen for the first time. It was in 2005, and it was a short movie produced and directed by Matteo Masiello in New York. The film is titled “Dante’s girl” starring Stephanye Dussud and David Lavine. I watched it and saw inspired by Mrs. Cassandra, an original screenplay by Jordan Tate. And I said to myself, this is it. I’m a screenwriter. You can see it online on my youtube channel .
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?
Actually when you first start as a screenwriter or as any other artist, you get many emails AND phone calls from people pretending to be producers, directors, and sometimes famous actors. I remember getting this phone call from France in 2012, from a famous actress I loved so much when I was a teenager. The person told me she was Karina Lombard’s assistant, and as I had given my phone number to Karina online I was surprised it wasn’t Karina calling me. I actually didn’t believe this woman was her assistant, and turned down meeting with her because I thought it was a trap, when you are a woman you have to be very cautious in this industry. I remember asking her who should I write with? What the film is about? And she didn’t want to answer my questions, so I thought it was weird. But later on, I found out that the woman was actually working with Karina Lombard and Karina had been really wanting to work with me. I think I have been quite sharp at this time. But you have to protect yourself.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Besides adapting books and working with producers on their own material I’m always working on my original screenplays and stories. My current original projects are a Christmas tale, a biopic with a strong female lead and a creature feature. I can’t disclose too much yet as I have just finished the outlines for these. I’m also in development on a French thriller film titled “L’assistant” (the assistant) with Anne Parillaud as the lead, a female writer inspired by a serial killer who will be portrayed by talented actor Christopher Journet, who worked with Omar Sy in “Le flic de Belleville”. I’m also currently working on a thriller screenplay titled “PITTWATER”, set in Australia, that revolves around a serial killer. It also features a strong female lead in the person of a young journalist trying to expose political corruption and putting her life in jeopardy. Both stories, the serial killer’s and the political corruption will be connected of course, as, as I often say, where there is a monster, there is a creator. “Pittwater” is based on a story by Australian writer Kevin Clark. I’m also in development on “The politeness of Kings”, a crime film with producer Sonja Beck and Rhett Industries pictures. The talented Marty Thomas was attached to direct and eager to work on the film but unfortunately, as you may know he’s not with us anymore. The film will of course, be dedicated to him. And last but not least, there is “FULL BLOOM”, a beautiful drama centered on a real life story, the struggle of a musician with the bipolar disorder in development with a talented award winning director. I’m also trying to bring “The adventurer”, my Merian Cooper biopic to the screen.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Basically I would say that everyday people are the most interesting people to interact with. When they know you are a writer they have such an incredible reaction, as if you’re not a human being but some kind of heroine, or a creature. That you are from another world. I don’t feel like I’m from another world, I believe writers are several persons at a time, and need to create other words in order to escape what “normal” people call reality. Of course I have met with many wonderful artists in the past few years, especially when I first started out. You can see a glimpse of my correspondences with some actors and filmmakers on my social networks. I remember Ashley Judd was one of the kindest and most intelligent person I have talked to.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Never listen to people trying to bring you down, if they are trying to bring you down, then they are already you. Follow your dreams and your instinct. Only that!
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would certainly start a movement for animal protection, there are too many abused animals in the world going through inconceivable sufferings.
I would also start a movement against evictions to avoid more people to become homeless. Homelessness in a so called developed society is beyond belief and unacceptable. Evictions must be forbidden at all costs! It clearly conveys the message that money is more meaningful than a human life. Some judges (shame on them) decide on evicting a family when their landlord owns 8 apartments and earns 8000 dollars a month? Once again it’s beyond belief and unacceptable!
Maybe combining both. A shelter for abused animals and homeless people. A place where all of them could start a life anew.
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. Never accept to work for free. When I first started I remember how flattering it was to receive a note from a producer, even a first time producer who wanted to work with me. Most of these so called producers will actually use you, use your talent and imagination to promote themselves and add credits to their resume, and when you agree to work on a deferred basis with these guys they actually never pay you! Only agree to accept working for a payment upfront even a small one, to me it’s a proof that the person respects you and your work, respects you as an artist, and you’ll get something for your writing even if the film never gets made, which happens quite some time in this industry. I have a producer who owns me money for my first writing assignment since 2006. He has been owning me for almost 14 years.
2. Have a life elsewhere. There are many up and down in this industry. It’s not stable and it can be very depressing at times. So don’t put all the eggs in one basket. Have a life elsewhere. Friends that don’t work in the film industry, family, another job maybe. Try to keep your feet to the ground.
3. Write several screenplays and work on several genres. Once again don’t put all the eggs in one basket. There are many producers in search of fresh material out there, seeking in various genres and budgets. Working on several scripts will multiply your chances.
4. Nothing is ever acquired. Even you sign your first contract, or when you are represented. Don’t fall asleep on your laurels. I had this agent representing me a few months ago…And he did nothing! Absolutely nothing! He was actually waiting for me to do his job and of course get the 10 percents along the way! So don’t rest too much on other people. COUNT ON YOURSELF and only on yourself.
5. Move forward, don’t stay on a disappointment, focus on what’s positive and when you’re finished with a project, start thinking and writing the next one!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Joseph Campbell said “Your sacred space is where you can find yourself over and over again.” I need that…A refuge when reality becomes too hard to take…A place in my mind,a recollection, or a combination of several ones, where I can find myself over and over again and remember these sweeter days, these heartwarming moments, remember I’ve been happy. Always find an image, a moment in your life that was magic to you, and hold onto it, when all hope seems lost.
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?
I’m very grateful towards my Dad, Bruno. I wish I could have told him much in the past. He’s been in the intensive care unit of this horrible French Hospital since the end of May 2019, L’hopital Européen in Marseilles/ The European Hospital in Marseille. And I’m an only child. My Father used to tell me that he wanted to me do what I liked to do in my life…WRITING. That he will always be there for me, that I could go on writing and make my dreams come true. He’s been fighting for his life for weeks, and my mother and I have been fighting to save him, there is the whole story posted on my blog.
I would like him to know how much I love him and how grateful I am for all these years he gave me, and for letting me do what I loved to do from the start, for supporting and encouraging me even I had not truly realized about it during all these years. You know, an only child can be selfish. Maybe I was.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
I would actually opt for Hugh Jackman…Because he’s my favorite actor. One of the rare artists I would call my Idol. There’s something magic about him, he really manages to make me dream with movies like Xmen, Van Helsing, Australia and The greatest showman. For some reason, his films always take me to places I love. Besides, he’s a huge star and seems to be the nicest person in the world. He looks very grounded.