Q&A: Screenwriter Eric Weinstock "An Egypt Affair"
Eric Weinstock is a longtime InkTip member, with many successes over the years. His most recent film, An Egypt Affair, is an action-thriller starring Yolanthe Cabau, Jarred Harper, and Massi Furlan. We spoke with Eric about his new project, his writing process, and his influences.
You have a number of screenwriting credits to your name. Can you elaborate on your background in the industry?
I’m a multi-optioned, produced and award-winning screenwriter of feature films. In 2016, my family film Arlo: The Burping Pig (Joey Lawrence, Drake Bell) was distributed by Lionsgate. In 2017, Gravitas released my gritty fight action film, Blood Circus (starring Kevin Nash, Vincent Pastore and Tom Sizemore), about an illicit and brutal underground fight club. I have two thriller films currently playing on Lifetime: A Dangerous Date (starring David Chokachi and Jillian Murray) and Amish Abduction (starring Sara Canning and Steve Byers). Amish Abduction was nominated for an LEO Award for best motion picture. Hazing Hell will appear on Lifetime next year, directed by Haylie Duff.
My horror films, Burial Ground Massacre (Michael Madsen) and Damon’s Revenge (Michael Madsen, Tom Sizemore, Sully Erna), are currently distributed by VMI. My psychological crime thriller Avery's Sin (starring Mena Suvari) will be shot this winter. I’m also a contest winner (WriteMovies) for my dark dramatic comedy, Perfect Smile, about a womanizing dentist on the run!
How did you find out about InkTip?
I wrote a couple of scripts and stumbled across InkTip via browsing the internet. It was a very fortunate discovery.
You have used InkTip’s service for 14 years. What about the service keeps you coming back?
Most efficient way to get your work noticed. I'm able to cast a wide net.
As mentioned, you have a few feature writing credits under your belt. What was your favorite part of this experience in particular?
While there’s nothing like seeing your script come to life on the big screen, I love the challenge of screenwriting. It’s a never ending puzzle, and to come up with a great, compelling story is still my first love.
You were hired to co-write An Egypt Affair. What attracted you to the project?
I wrote An Egypt Affair after connecting with the producer/director Marlin Darrah. He had a very interesting idea for the film and an equally ambitious vision to shoot on the Nile River. How could I pass on that?
It was such a different setting and concept that I’m used to. The mystery and intrigue of the Nile River and historic Egypt was too great an opportunity to ignore.
Still from An Egypt Affair
Can you sum up the film for our readers?
An Egypt Affair follows three seemingly loving couples who vacation along the Nile River. However, the couples are not what they seem, as they scheme, plot, betray and connive their way toward achieving very different objectives.
You’ve also worked as a producer on other films. How has that experience and knowledge elevated your writing?
Producing is an invaluable experience that I enjoy in small doses. It is certainly not for the faint of heart. However, gaining insight into this area of filmmaking allows my writing to shape itself with an eye towards the finished project. For example, budget and casting, just to name a couple of production topics, can impact the scope of the writing considerably.
You’ve written in a variety of genres – family friendly scripts to horrors to the action-packed An Egypt Affair. How challenging is it for you to shift from one genre to another?
I like almost all genres. My answer is there is much more in common between genres than differences. Whether you are writing for Winnie the Pooh or Hannibal Lecter, the audience must invest in the character. If the audience does not care about the character, the movie flops. Regardless of the genre, the writer must make each character compelling.
Please tell us about your writing process and when you know a script is ready to market.
I often have an idea, or a great twist, or a good ending and usually work backwards a bit. In terms of when the script is ready to market, it’s probably when I can’t stand to look at it any more!
Do you get writer's block? If so, how do you fight through it?
I think writer’s block is a fancy way of saying something is missing in your story or the creative process. When I have a well-outlined story in my head, the words spill out. When I’m less sure of the story, that’s when I inevitably have “writer’s block.”
What other projects are you working on?
I have several projects at different stages of development. I have sold a Lifetime script called ‘Til Death and will begin filming in 2024. My psychological crime thriller called Avery’s Sin will begin production soon.
Yolanthe Cabau and Jarred Harper in An Egypt Affair
Where do you usually find inspiration for your scripts?
Inspiration for me comes from every day life. I am most inspired by interesting and quirky characters, and when I meet such folks in every day life, I imagine how they would present on a movie screen. Taking quirky, slightly unhinged people and add jeopardy and high stakes makes for great movie characters!
What advice do you have for writers regarding forming working relationships with producers?
The movie-making landscape is like the Wild West. Talk is never cheaper. Forming meaningful relationships is invaluable, but it’s equally important to make sure you are not investing time and energy in producers who are not able to move your project. To hitch your wagon to the wrong horse in such cases leads to heartache, frustration and, often times, lost money.
What is the best piece of writing advice that you’ve received?
Believing in yourself is super important, but it’s also important to be amenable to criticism. You don’t have to agree with a critique of your work, but if you are hearing it enough times and/or from a respected source, then you should listen. This can only help you improve.
What films have influenced you as a writer?
I’m particularly drawn to minimalist stories with compelling characters. I tend to steer clear of big explosions and over the top effects, particularly if it’s at the expense of a good story. My favorite films are usually the most simple, like Rocky. To me, Rocky is as beautiful a love story as you can get. You invest so heavily in the main character that you rise and fall with every emotion. We can all relate to his feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, which make his rise to glory that much more impactful. When I write characters, I search for the level of authenticity that Rocky brings to the screen. I am also a big Woody Allen fan. His comedies are sensational, but perhaps my favorite film of his is the powerful drama, Crime and Misdemeanors. It’s a true masterpiece. Some other favorites of mine include Silence of the Lambs, Se7en, most Tarantino films, and the irrepressibly brilliant Young Frankenstein.
What is one film you would love to make every screenwriter watch, and why?
Although these are not my favorite films of all time, I think they deserve to be studied by all aspiring screenwriters: Phone Booth (Colin Farrell) and Buried (Ryan Reynolds). While both are great, from a screenwriting standpoint, Buried is peerless. These films are both single location films that move at an exhilarating pace. Imagine getting a writing assignment that requires you to write a thriller script, feature-length, that takes place entirely inside a coffin. You would think this is impossible, yet when you read the script and watch the film, there is never a dull moment. Of course, while having great talents like Reynolds and Farrell certainly help, it's hard to overestimate the challenge of pulling these films off. Great acting and direction, but none of it is possible without brilliant writing.
Anything you wish to add?
Keep at it! As long as your expectations are reasonable, screenwriting is a wonderful adventure!
Be sure to catch the trailer for An Egypt Affair below: