Screenwriting Contests, Movie Marathons & Winning Over Development Execs – Part 2 of our Kate Trefry & Lee Stobby Interview

A mere two months after winning our first ever Launch Pad Competition, Kate Trefry has found herself with hot-on-the-rise manager Lee Stobby (Caliber Media Co.), taking meetings around town, and being coined the next Diablo Cody.
We had a chance to sit down with Kate and Lee over a few drinks to discuss Kate’s winning script “Pure O,” find out what she’s working on next, and talk about how the contest along with their new writer/manager relationship has changed both of their lives. 


(If you haven’t already, be sure to read part 1 here)

TB: So, Kate, now that we know a little bit about you, lets talk about your experience in the Launch Pad Competition. Was this your first screenplay contest?

KATE: Oh, no. I had been burned by contests before, but I was excited about this one because I thought the Tracking-Board site is such a f*cking cool concept.

TB: Well Thanks. So you must have been excited when we announced the winners?

KATE: Yeah, it was kind of stressful. I was top twenty-five, then top ten and I don’t want to go on record saying I’ve never won anything before in my life… but it’s definitely always somebody else who wins. (Laughs). It’s like buying a lotto ticket. You know it’s technically possible for you to win, but in your heart you know you’re definitely not going to. 100% you’re not going to win. So I was like, ‘Sure I’m in the top ten, yay, but I’m definitely not going to win.’ Then the day it was supposed to be announced came and sure enough, I didn’t get an email or anything from you guys.

TB: Ugh! Your email sucks you know. We’ve told you this two or three times.

KATE: (Laughs) Ah, I know. Take it up with Hotmail.

LEE: I just text her. (Laughs)

TB: That’s a good call.

KATE: Yeah, so the day came, and I was constantly checking my wack email and not getting anything and it was giving me so much anxiety that I eventually just shut down and went to the movies all day.

TB: All day?

KATE: Yeah, I saw three movies in a row. I triple featured it.

TB: Awesome.

KATE: It was great until I got out and I checked my idiot email again. (Laughs). Then I went to the site and there was the announcement that I won and I started hyperventilating. And my boyfriend was like ‘What? What’s happening?’ and I showed him the announcement–already immediately trying to downplay it, being like ‘Oh it doesn’t matter, nothing’s going to happen.’ And he was like, ‘Uh, yeah, you can’t do that anymore, you won. It’s too late.’

TB: Did that help?

KATE: No, I was like, ‘Oh, it’s probably some weirdoes in a basement somewhere, and it doesn’t mean anything and nobody cares.’

TB: Wow, cut us to the core.

KATE: (Laughs) Really, I thought nothing was going to happen. And then it turned out to be the complete opposite. Right away, I got a ton of emails from people requesting to see the script and all these random people I had met before emailed me and wanted to meet again.

TB: They just contacted you out of the blue?

KATE: Yeah!

LEE: I was pimping her super f*cking hard up until that point, but people want what other people want. So as soon as she won the contest people were just like, ‘Let me read this. I need to read this.’ It made my life easier when she just won this thing that was voted on by the biggest executives and producers in town. I mean this contest really meant something.

KATE: Yes. I mean, I know we’re all meeting today and being like, ‘Aren’t we all so great.’ But this contest legitimately changed my life. It was amazing to have my work sent out and actually taken it seriously.

TB: Did that not happen before?

KATE: Not often. I think people probably went into it, like we all do, already kind of writing it off. But this foot in the door from the contest lent it a ton of legitimacy, and suddenly everyone’s really reading it, you know.

LEE: That’s why when I read it I was like, ‘I have to sign this person or I’m going die!’ It’s because she’s so good.

KATE: Honestly, I never really expected anyone to get on board with this script. This project is so close to my heart, and it’s the best shock of my life to find that there are people out there who like this story. So, getting an opportunity to get it read by people who respond to it…so, that’s is a pretty good day for me.

TB: Sounds like a good day to me too. What are you looking for in these meetings?

KATE: The cool thing about meeting with development execs is they have their own babies, and they’ve been waiting for the right person to come along and love them too. So it’s about trying to find shared love of something and waiting to feel like this is what we both really want to do. It doesn’t happen incredibly often, but that’s what I’m looking for.

LEE: It’s like there are two brains, like two heads to this monster [the industry]. There’s the monster that needs to make money, and we need to service those people that just want to see exposure. But then there’s the other head, which really just wants to do unique, cool, fresh things.

TB: And you’re after the latter?

KATE: Yes, I’m hoping to have those moments with people. It’s tougher to find, but I think it’s worth looking for a team of people who are passionate about the same thing.

TB: A needle in the haystack?

LEE: Yeah, but that’s my job, trying to figure out what people to bring this out to. Do I bring it out to these people? Maybe they’re interested… If I can find people interested in you and the property and they are going to pay for you to write a story you were going to do anyway, we just won a lottery. I’m looking for the people with a plan on how they want to do it. So they want to get an A-list director and an A-list actor to do it too, okay, now that’s interesting, let’s do that.

TB: It sounds like everything is sort of going according to plan.

LEE: The fact that the script won [the Launch Pad Competition] makes things better because it shows them [Kate and the script] off as the most fresh and unique of all the entries. I had been like, ‘It should win because it’s probably the best one.” But now we know it is the best script.

TB: And on that topic, lets talk about the script — “Pure O.” Kate, what made you decide to write this very different take on the college experience?

KATE: Well. I have OCD. So when I graduated from NYU I started thinking I wanted to write an OCD movie because I think it’s so hysterically misrepresented in media, and–in my opinion–the truth is way more interesting than what we’ve already seen in “Monk” or “As Good As It Gets.”

TB: Both great, award-winning pieces of media.

KATE: Sure, and don’t get me wrong, I actually really like them both–I legitimately love “As Good As It Gets” (don’t tell my shrink, she’d kill me for saying that)–I just think that the reality of the disorder gets neglected, and it’s actually something more people can relate to. At its core, OCD is about what it’s like to be afraid of yourself. And for whatever reason, very little of that comes through in most depictions.

TB: You’ve mentioned some things from your own life that I recognize from the script. Is this script autobiographical?

KATE: Well, there’s definitely a lot of me in the script. I went to NYU, I was undiagnosed for a long time, struggled with my OCD, but I don’t know, it’s not that autobiographical. I’m pretty crazy, but not that crazy. Not any more, at least. (Laughs).

TB: How long did it take you to write the script?

KATE: Tough to say exactly–after deciding to write it, I dicked around not writing it for most of the year and a half I worked as a development assistant. Everyday I was reading like two or three scripts and writing coverage, and by the time I got home I was so burned out that the last thing I wanted to was sit down and type – ‘INTERIOR, APARTMENT — NIGHT: Kate stabs herself out of boredom.’ You know?

TB: You’re definitely not the first writer to feel that way. So what changed?

KATE: I started working in art department.

TB: That’s definitely a change. And, not even close to writing.

KATE: No, but that was also kind of the point. I got to work these hours that were completely f*cked up but worked really well for me: I would be on set for like three weeks working 15 hours a day, then the movie would wrap and before the next one, I would have a couple weeks to write with nobody talking to me.

TB: Nice. So what’s next for the script?

KATE: I’ve been talking a lot [in meetings] about TV.

TB: For Pure-O?

KATE: Yeah, and for other things too. But, I think TV has become a place where people are looking to get weird, to try something new.

LEE: It’s funny because so many of the people who have read it are like, ‘Oh my God, that’s a TV show’ or ‘Kate needs to be writing TV.’

TB: And are you ready to jump on board with that?

LEE: I’m certainly not against it [as a TV show], I mean if they’re breaking out their checkbook I’m listening.

TB: But, would you prefer a feature or a series?

LEE: If it’s a feature, I think it’s going to be us just going for it. We’ll find the biggest company and get them on board, but no one is going to give it to us and it’s going to be hard to convince them, so we’re going to need an attractive package. I want her to shoot for the moon and do something that’s going to get her an Oscar. But on the other hand, something like this could easily have a home on HBO or Showtime or any of these places. And, Kate should be getting into that world because it’s an interesting time for TV. Either way she wants to do it, it will be, because she’s going to make magic happen.

KATE: What he said. (Laughs)





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