Junto Magazine Vol2_Issue2 - Page 18

Junto Magazine, Volume 2 Issue 2 Junto Magazine Talks With Writer and Director, Allison Burnett Samantha Oty Allison Burnett is a man of many tal- ents. He has written screenplays for sev- eral movies including Autumn in New York (2000), Gone (2012), and Feast of Love (2007). He also wrote and direct- ed Ask Me Anything, the film adaptation of his novel Undiscovered Gyrl and stars Britt Robertson, Justin Long, Martin Sheen, and Christian Slater. sketches for school variety shows. I grew more serious my senior year in college when I won Northwestern University’s annual playwriting competition. That same year I also began to write short sto- ries and submit them to magazines, where they did not have a prayer of getting pub- lished. After I had graduated from col- lege, I moved to New York City. I originally reached out the author and director Allison Burnett for my own needs. Ask Me Anything stuck with me in a way I didn’t expect when I put it on for background noise one night over Christ- mas break. I decided that I wanted to in- voke the same emotion with my playwrit- ing, so I thought “Why not just adapt it for the stage?” At this point in my life, I thought I was going to be an actor. But after get- ting the lead role in a George Bernard Shaw one-act, which was performed, most nights, for fewer than ten people, I threw in the towel. Not only was acting a dog’s life, but writing came much more easily to me. When I wrote, hours passed like minutes. At twenty-one years old, I committed myself to playwriting. I sent Allison an email about how much I enjoyed the coming-of-age sto- ry of Katie Kampenfelt, which she tells through a series of blog posts, and that with his blessing I would love to adapt it for the stage. To my surprise, he re- sponded within 30 minutes and seemed enthused by the idea. He also agreed to be interviewed for Junto Magazine. Ten years later, I was still living in Manhattan. I had written several plays, short stories, and novels, but had received almost no validation for my work. Wea- ry of struggling in anonymous poverty, I moved to Los Angeles to write screen- plays, which I knew had to be far easier than writing plays or novels. Why did you choose to pursue writ- ing, specifically screenwriting, for a career? It’s not usually something that comes up on high school career apti- tude tests. I wrote short stories as a kid. In high school and college, I wrote comedy Within a year, I was making a living as a screenwriter. A few years later, I sold my first big script. It was only after I had been validated in this way, that I had the peace of mind and financial security to go back to writing fiction. I looked over everything I had written in my twenties, which I had dismissed as the mere fruits