Interview with Screenwriter: Claudia Muñiz

I was born in Havana, Cuba, in the mid 80s, so, yes, I am this rare product from the end of an age when everything became very confusing. I am an actress, screenwriter and filmmaker and I think the world will be terribly boring without Cate Blanchett or Karim Aïnouz; without Marcello Mastroianni, the best actor I’ve ever seen; without Gena Rowlands and John Cassavetes, always together; or Tangerine by Sean S. Baker.

What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?

Be loyal to yourself, to your experience. Write about what you know, but also do it about what intrigues you. Never deny your obsessions. Study the classics or whatever moves you deeply. There is nothing wrong with taking inspiration from the ones that preceded you. Take the myth then make it yours. Never stop studying, read plays, scripts and please, please, please be aware of books or manuals that promise you the perfect script out of ten simple steps.

When a writer has an idea for a screenplay, what questions should they be asking themselves before writing?

I only can talk from my own experience and the truth is that I try to keep it simple. I believe that every process is different. Every script is a universe and the approach changes from one project to the other. Sometimes I do a very exhaustive research. Sometimes I don’t. It depends on the kind of story I am trying to tell. It doesn’t work like a clock most of the time. Anyway, there are always some questions that are very helpful. For me it has to be the theme. I try to pick a word or a sentence that grabs the sense of the story that is knocking inside my head. Once I have it, everything flows.

What are common myths about being a successful screenwriter?

It is there such a thing? Really, if someone is willing to succeed in this world he or she has to be prepared to fail many times. It is not the easy and romantic concept what are we talking about. It is not a glamorous party all the time. There are moments of tremendous loneliness and hours of hard work coming up.

Why did you choose screenwriting?

I really like to think that screenwriting chose me instead. I am an actor and I started writing almost like a game. It was for a film that I will be leading in. Kiki Álvarez, the director of the film asked me to write some of the parts that involved my character (it was almost the 99%) and I started writing like it was a theater play. I mean in that same format. It was the only one I knew, as I came from a theater school. Therefore, when I started writing, it was not something that I had planned. I try to keep that in perspective all the time. If I start taking it too seriously I am sure I could not do it anymore.

How do you deal with writers block?

Again, the key is not to take it too seriously. I know you have deadlines and that could be a strong source of stress, but I truly defend life over everything else. You, as a writer, need time to live your life. Either with or without writers block, you need to take a time and go places if that is what you like to do. For example I have my best ideas while commuting. I have time to disconnect. I get to see very interesting people and situations. Go outside! Watch a movie! Cook! Play a game! Whatever that makes you feel good.

What organizations are you a part of? Who’s in your writing creative tribe?

I am not in an organization now. I am new in this country. In Cuba film people make alliances, they even have good production houses, but sadly you cannot make it legal. It is very different here and I am starting to understand that. I am willing to be a part of an organization or collective that has the same point of view as me in film. Anyway, here I have found people that helped me a lot with the finalization of my short film “Days of Wholesome Joy.” It could not be possible without Ruth Goldberg and Bill Toles’ magic; or without the unconditional and constant support of 718Studio. They are my tribe here.

Take us through your script writing process?

I do not really have a process. At least not like something you always do the same way, like a routine. Even when I am a very methodical person for the simple things of life like eating or taking a bus, I do not have a system when writing. Sometimes I find a story just by coming up with the title. That is the detonator. At some other occasions there are news on the television or facebook that makes me want to write. Usually I have an idea going on for a very long time. I have it for months and then one day I am able to sit and write it in one week. The script has been written inside my head already. Whatever the process is, I really have the best moments when writing.

What’s next for you?

Now I am writing a script for Bill Toles. It is about family and immigration in this city. About becoming a citizen and the sacrifices that implies. I am also collaborating with creator Pablo Zequeira to write some of the scripts of his animation series “James in High School.” I am planning to film something here in Brooklyn, so I am starting to put things together in order to get the funds to make it real. As an actress I am in the process of finding the right agent and this is very time-consuming… and I am living, that is the most important part.

How can we stay in contact with you? 


IG Accounts @mad_unikitty @con_sana_alegria

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