Interview with Screenwriter & Microbiologist, Liz Lugo


When microbiology and writing screen plays collide, the out come is someone like Liz Lugo.  Throughout this interview you will be taken on a journey into screenplays, changing life paths and the over all beauty to not giving it up regardless as to how difficult things may get or will inevitably get. I’d like to invite all of you to follow Liz on Instagram @swllugo .

RMMW: Do you have any artists rituals before starting a new piece?

LL: Not exactly.  But my writing definitely flows better when I exercise, when I'm wearing pajamas and after a shower.  My mind needs to be clear, to focus on my project.  Even if there are so many things happening in my life, I need to shut the world down and give my writing the importance it deserves.  Oh, and instrumental music works well with any genre – including Horror, I can’t hear Hard Rock or Metal when I’m writing Horror, and it’s my favorite music but honestly, I have no idea how some people can.  It’s just too much for my brain ha ha ha…
  
RMMW: Have you ever been creatively blocked if yes, how did you get out of it?

LL: Oh, yes! Writers' block is a serious pain in the ass! haha…  What I do is to disconnect myself from the world.  Literally, I put my computer or notebook far away.  Nothing writing related can be near me, except my brain, of course haha I immediately determine what's causing my block.  If it's something external (not linked to my project), I put it aside.  If it's a character, an action, some element on my story -- I focus on that.  I analyze all the paths that element could follow.  And eventually, something will come.  The thing about writing block is to accept is real but at the same time to push yourself to defeat it -- because if you don't, we all know for how long it could be present.

RMMW: If you had to choose between your love of science and writing which one would win?

LL: Hahaha gosh, good one!  At first, it was hard for me -- to feel I'm in between and not belong completely to any of them.  But then, there are people that are just like that 'a little bit of everything' and I'm one of those crazy people!  I love science, talk about it and will always identify myself as a microbiologist.  You know, we can love so many things, and that's just wonderful!  To learn, to grow, to explore, to share -- But when the things you love make you feel passion, your eyes shine, there's a unique, special touch in the way you speak -- there's where you're meant to be.  And the beautiful thing about writing is that you can play with science!  So, at the end, I believe I just have the best of the two worlds!
  
RMMW: What drew you to screenplay writing over any other format?

LL: First, my love for films and TV shows!  I’m a freak!  I could spend hours a day watching films or TV shows and analyzing them.   So, I started writing poetry and short stories since I was young and I wanted to explore something different.  It was then when I decided to apply to the UCLA Professional Program in Screenwriting - highly recommend it to anyone who knows nothing about screenwriting.  I remember the first time I got a screenplay 'in my hands'.  I was freaked out!  And then the instructor said to start writing scenes! ha!  I thought I couldn't handle it, “why am I doing this?!” but I ended up loving it!  The structure is insanely beautiful.  Its complexity and how you play with the characters, settings, actions, descriptions, all the format drives me crazy and makes me fall more in love every day.

RMMW: Who is your favourite screenwriter?

LL: Tough one.  There are many screenwriters that I admire their work, their style.  But to mention, two of the screenplays that I've had the opportunity to read and analyze are from Diablo Cody (Juno) and Emma Donoghue (Room).  These women are just amazing.  The experience of watching their films (which both are a masterpiece) is nothing compared with reading the screenplay.  The deepness of the characters, dialogues (especially Juno), actions (especially Room) -- if you were capable of putting yourself in the characters’ lives, you'll become every character when reading these screenplays.  And I believe that's what every screenwriter wants to achieve – to not just sympathy with a character and his/her story, but to be them, to feel them. 

RMMW: What is your favourite underappreciated screenplay?

LL: In screenwriting is hard to say.  You can probably see a film and think why that story went to the big screen.  You can criticize its structure, find its flaws on their elements.  But the film is the product of the screenplay, most of the times.  They go hand-in-hand.  For sure there are many underappreciated films, but it's difficult to mention an underappreciated screenplay.   Or at least I haven’t read any.

RMMW: What type of scripts do you want to write in your career?

LL: My main goal is to write stories that make an impact on society, help to change someone's world (or a part of the world) or give hope to someone.  This has always been my purpose and was one of the reasons I decided to study science -- to make a difference in someone's life.  But -- here comes the fun part -- I also believe you can take any subject -- for example, sexual abuse or rape (which are two causes dear to my heart) and work with any genre.  My favorites genres are Psychological Thriller, Drama, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, Horror, Action, Comedy -- with no particular order.  And within them, I believe Comedy would be the hardest but it's something I wanna try.  Of course, I'm open to anything that challenges me and makes me grow!

RMMW: What do you enjoy most about writing screenplays?

LL: Hmmm... writing is hard, a headache haha I would say is the fact that I want to make a project possible.  Determine what a specific project could bring to my life and to others.  Screenwriters learn and grow with every scene we write, every character we develop.  We are all of them and none of them.  Our characters teach us, and as they evolve/change in the story, a part of us does it.  Growing is exciting!  Learn more about yourself and what you're capable of, it's just beautiful!

RMMW: Do you ever people watch to get inspiration for your characters?

LL: All the time! hahaha It's something I do since I was a little girl -- analyze people's behavior.  The actions of a person say more than thousands of words.  But sometimes a person behaves in a way people don't understand or judge them or assume they're doing whatever they do because whatever they think, you know.  And that's not true.  I could be silent, and be the happiest person in the world.  I could ignore someone, and love him/her with all my soul, but at that moment I just want to spend time with myself.  I could like someone and end up saying something awkward or just not talking at all ‘cause I don’t want to say something wrong or not cool hahah I could miss a text or a phone call ‘cause I was asleep or my cellphone didn't vibrate or I don’t know I was reading/doing some work, but it's not ‘cause I'm too busy to show you that I care.  And so on… with any emotion, actually…  Every human needs to understand human behavior or, at least, respect – and don’t assume.  That behind every action, there’s at least a reason.  And for every writer, doesn't matter what kind of format, this is the key to understand and develop your stories, your characters.

RMMW: What is the best way to come up with ideas for your screenplays?

LL: Any story, of any genre, should be the reflection of real life.  Read, read, read.  Do your research.  Keep reading.  Keep learning.  Study and analyze productions similar to your ideas.  I could have the greatest idea but if I don't educate myself, I have nothing.  Then, once you're a portable information machine haha, your imagination will expand itself and the ideas will flow better.

RMMW: What are screenwriting classes like?

LL: Purgatory -- the place between Heaven and hell hahaha kidding.  Classes are pretty intense.  You have fun, you learn, but it's hard work.  I love the interaction with peers.  We meet every week.  We need to read others work and give feedback -- which it's an important factor of screenwriting and the entertainment industry, in general.  Classes not only teach you how to improve yourself as a professional but to grow and unwrap yourself personally speaking.

RMMW: What advice would you give to anyone fearing a change of path?

LL: Life's beautiful but not easy.  We all have our struggles; doesn't matter in which field you are or want to be.  You have to focus on yourself, on your happiness.  Everyone has a purpose and if we ignore it, we'll be miserable.  Ask yourself, what do I really want?  Believe me, you'll feel it.  And then, be brave, face all your fears, swim against the current.  You'll lose so many people, and some of the ones that decide to stay will assume and judge your decisions.  People will say many things about yourself, and it will hurt.  But the only person that matters is you --- you’re the one seeing things most people can’t.  Shut negativity down.  The things that don't add to your life are the things to put in a trash can.  Value those who respect and support you.  And then, if opportunities don’t knock at your door?  Go out there.  CREATE them!  Your soul has all the tools to do it.  You know, in the path towards growing you'll face struggle, pain, meet your flaws and even those virtues you didn't know you have – but everything you experience is necessary.  It hasn’t been easy for me and I bet for anyone, but it’s the only way to happiness, to fulfill your dreams, goals, to grow/evolve.  At the end, you'll be in that place, with those people, where you're meant to be :)

RMMW: If you had a superpower what would it be?

LL: Eating all the food I want without getting fat! Ha ha nah kidding.  Healing.  Chronic diseases or any disease that's threatening someone’s life.   And, to heal the interior.  Sometimes we tend to forget that mental health is just as important as physical health.

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