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Jessica Bendinger

Inside the Writer’s Room with Denise

I sat down in the writer’s room with Chicago screenwriter Jessica Bendinger.

Denise O'Neal

Denise O’Neal

DO:   What age did you get the writing bug?
JB:     At a very young age.  In 6th grade I was a finalist in a writing competition and knew that writing came easy for me.

DO:   Did you have any formal training?
JB:     I attended Columbia University in New York where I took some creative writing classes and took a UCLA summer school screenwriting class but I didn’t like it.  I didn’t like the rules.  So I studied movies and read books and went to see lots of movies with my family while growing up.

Jessica Bendinger

Jessica Bendinger

DO:   Do you write every day?
JB:     Hell no!

DO:   What is your process?
JB:     I’m an anytime, anywhere girl when writing.

DO:   Did you move to LA to pursue a screenwriting career?
JB:     Yes.  There was no plan B.

DO:   How did you come up with the idea for Bring It On?
JB:     I used my Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups theory.  Take two great tastes and put them together.

DO:   Was Bring It On your first script sale?
JB:     Yes, but I sold it as a pitch.  I had an 11-18 page outline.  This is called “taking out a pitch.” I went around to a lot of producers in LA and was turned down 27 times before I sold it on the 28th pitch to Beacon.  I got paid to write the script and joined the WGA from that first job.

DO:   I read that you wrote a novel called The Seven Rays.  Tell me about that.
JB:     I finished the book in 2009 which took 3 ½ years to write.

DO:   Are there any plans to adapt the novel to a screenplay?
JB:     I’ve sold the film rights and have the financiers of District Nine and they want to make it.  I’ve done a couple drafts but it needs more work.

DO:   What’s next for you?
JB:     I have an original movie idea that I’m co-writing with someone and co-writing a musical.  I also have an original TV series idea that I’m developing.

DO:   What advice can you give to screenwriters?
JB:     Know thyself is the best advice I can give any writer.  As long as you are doing what you love you are contributing.