It brings me great pleasure to be once again contributing to Ms. In The Biz. In the last few years I have met fascinating women writers, directors and creators. There’s so much great content out there being made by female creators, we should all be keeping an eye on these women. That’s where “Writer’s Corner” comes in. This is a place to get to know outstanding writers, talk about the craft of writing, career advice, share horror stories and find out more about compelling films, television shows, plays, etc.
Today we are featuring Stacy Dymalski.
Stacy, What’s your claim to fame?
I’m probably most known for the feature film “Jupiter Landing” which I directed and co-wrote with my frequent writing partner Zack Van Eyck. However, the project that I am most proud of and align myself with is “The Write Stuff” an eight-minute short I wrote, directed, and produced, about a young boy who wins a writing contest, only to find out that the contest officials want to change the edgy parts of his story to make it more mainstream. It’s a story of heartbreak and integrity all in eight minutes. It was a hit in several film festivals, including the the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, where it went on from there to be shown in several schools across the country as an example how children can listen to their own hearts as a way to stand up to bullying. You can watch the whole movie on IMDB.
What’s your favorite character that you have created?
Caroline Kenner from my (as of yet unproduced) TV series pilot, “Caroline in the Dark.” Caroline is a blind divorce attorney. Counterintuitive to how you’d think a blind woman would live, Caroline chooses to have a career and live alone with her service dog, Howard, after her divorce from her husband of twelve years. She’s feisty, irreverent, sometimes not very nice, and definitely not the typical female character we’ve seen yet in TV and movies. Think of Caroline as a blind Mary in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” if Mary had the sensibility of Amy Schumer. My “Caroline in the Dark” pilot was one of only 10 chosen by the WGA Disabilities Committee for a scene reading in the Disability Scene: Year 3 event held on March 26 of this year.
What’s the best and worst career advice you have ever received?
The best advice: Actually comes from an Ernest Hemingway quote that I have tacked up on my wall above my desk: “Writing is easy. You just sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” In other words, be authentic. Best advice given to me personally was from a college professor in a writing class at UCLA (I don’t remember his name): “Accept constructive criticism, but don’t take input that doesn’t serve your story.” That advice has served me well over the years as a professional writer. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about the story and characters. Everything beyond that is ego.
Worst advice: I once had a booking agent (I’m also a standup comic and professional speaker) tell me, “Get a boob job. You’d have the perfect body if you’d just get a boob job.” Really? What’s that got to do with my writing? Or speaking? Last I checked my boobs can’t carry on a conversation…or even express ideas.
What’s the one project you wish you had written?
I wish I had written the Amazon original series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Even though it’s set in the late 1950s, every female comic or comedy writer goes through the same backlash, setbacks, and skewed looks today when she expresses her humor, whether it’s written or she performs it live. Comedy (in a writers’ room or in a night club) is a boys’ club. The writing in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is spot on, especially the scenes between Midge and her husband. He leaves her because he thinks she’s too much, when in reality he’s just not enough, and thankfully Midge does not lower herself to his level. Which is a great, universal message for successful women in any profession.
What’s your favorite yet to be produced?
The feature film, “Jacumba Connection” which is a screen adaptation of a book by David C. Taylor that I optioned. I mentored David to edit and give feedback as he wrote his book while in federal prison (he’s working on a 10-year sentence for trafficking of illegal immigrants–in fact, he’s still in prison). The story of how I was brought into this project is so crazy, that the making of the book and the screenplay is the topic of my upcoming Hollywood Fringe, one-woman show entitled “The Other Side of the Razor Ribbon”. I have six shows scheduled for this June (premiering June 2) in the Studio C Theatre on Santa Monica Blvd (Theatre Row). I’m passionate about getting “Jacumba Connection” produced as a movie because it shows a side of illegal immigration we’ve not seen until David’s book, and I think now is the time (more than ever) that his story should be told. It needs to be part of the public conversation on immigration, because it’s told by a boots-on-the-ground insider, who just happens to be born a white, U.S. citizen in middle-class America. I even did a TED Talk about it on April 16, 2016, called “Prison: A Startling Path to Creativity.”
What’s your plan B? What other job or career would you be doing if you weren’t writing?
I have an undergraduate degree in Applied Math from University of California-Berkeley. I started out as an aerospace software programmer at McDonnell Douglas in Long Beach right out of college, but I would do standup at night and write jokes for other comics. Just like Midge Maisel (in the show “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) I had an untapped talent for comedy, but didn’t fully embrace it. Back then I literally was a rocket scientist by day and a comedian by night. I got bored designing wing flaps, so I moved on to computer graphics and animation, then comedy writing. Then I went to UCLA post grad to study screenwriting and continued my career from there. I’m a firm believer that having a Plan B is the death of a career as a writer or comedian, because you’ll never be desperate enough to fully commit to your writing. But if I hadn’t made the leap from technology to writing, today I would probably have some sort of middle-management position in the high tech field. And I’d be bored as shit.
Where can people find out more about you?
My career is a three-legged-stool: 1) I’m a WGA writer for TV and film, 2) A comedian/speaker/author, 3) an independent story developer for books and screenplays (I’m branded as The Memoir Midwife). You can learn more by going to my website www.TheMemoirMidwife.com or go to my FB page Stacy Dymalski Entertainment. You can find my books on Amazon, currently I have two books: “Confessions of a Band Geek Mom” which is a book of essays of my comedy expanded into fully developed stories, and “The Memoir Midwife: Nine Steps to Self-Publishing Your Book,” a primer on how anyone can self-publish. And of course, you can check out my IMDB page.
Stacy Dymalski is a screenwriter, comedian, author, and story editor. Her one-woman show “The Other Side of the Razor Ribbon” premieres at the Hollywood Fringe on June 2. She has two sons and lives in Los Angeles with her Chihuahua. For more info on her show go to www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/4823