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Collect Call: An Interview with Wesley Boone

Please tell us about the projects you worked on before writing “Collect Call”. How did you start, and how did you learn to write scripts?

I started screenwriting in high school. I had very supportive drama teachers, Ross Schexnayder and Karen Burns, who introduced me to sketch-writing in an improv-comedy class. After seeing how my best friend and I took to that, Ross walked us through screenwriting formatting in a film class he taught. I made movies growing up but we almost always just sort of made up the story as we went along. Being introduced to craft of screenwriting at this time helped me structure my ideas and I’m so grateful for Ross’s guidance. I worked on projects in college, and won a CBI award for a short film called “Intersect”. After graduating from college, I went into sports broadcasting. But the itch to make movies only grew stronger. I got out of broadcasting and have now been able to focus more time on storytelling and “Collect Call” my first foray back into filmmaking. Couldn’t have asked for a better experience! 

Tell us about ‘Collect Call’. How do you describe it?

It’s a ghost story. It’s self-contained and I think that helps drive home the dread. We aren’t sure how much time passes as we watch things play out with Oscar in this house. The voicemail recordings push the story forward as pick up details about the lives of the voices on the tapes. It’s told from an unreliable narrator perspective because of how contained the story is, though that really never was the intention. But the environment begs the question: how much of this is actually happening? Ultimately, we see Oscar’s guilt manifest itself in terrifying ways and that guilt consumes him. I really enjoy exploring grief and the way people grieve in my writing. For this project, guilt was the focus. Oscar’s guilt buries him as he lives in this nice house, a product of his ill-begotten inheritance. He’s constantly reminded about what he’s done everywhere he looks. This guilt has a lot to do with the way he’s grieving, too. It’s a stage of grief he’s never been able to progress past because there’s no way to atone for his sins. There is no way to earn forgiveness and there is no second chance. It was a mean little ghost story that was a lot of fun to tell! 

Please tell us about your favorite writers, in cinema and literature.

I’m a big David Koepp fan. Koepp’s career has spanned decades and he’s never been put into a box in terms of what sort of stories he can tell. His ability to hop between genres and tell compelling stories is one of the reasons why he’s a frequent collaborator with Hollywood’s top creative talent. I also am huge fan of Leigh Whannel. While Whannel operates in the horror/thriller genre exclusively, he’s one of my favorite writer/directors because of what he’s been able to do in this genre: tell original, compelling stories in familiar sandboxes. Along with creating incredible original stories like Saw and Insidious (with frequent collaborator James Wan, who I also adore), Whannel’s also had tremendous success playing with different IPs. His take on “The Invisible Man” is everything I think a remake/reimagining should be and I can’t wait to see what he does with “The Wolf Man”. In literature, I’m a big Cormac McCarthy fan. “The Road” is one of my favorite books (and a stellar movie) and I think one of the most powerful pieces of post-apocalyptic literature there is. I hope the influences of these special artists can be seen in my work! 

If you were given a good budget what would be your ideal project?

I have a feature screenplay I wrote in college called “Safe”, a sports comedy that I think would be a blast to make. It has a unique perspective and some hilarious sequences. I think the mid-budget comedy has taken a major hit the last couple years and watching comedy evolve into almost a streaming-exclusive genre has really gotten on my nerves. I think “Safe” would be the perfect thing to bring comedy back to theaters! 

What was the hardest part of writing “Collect Call”?

The challenge I gave myself when writing “Collect Call” was all about finding a creative, engaging way to unfold the exposition. You have to pick up everything from the various voicemail recordings; so progressing the story while also giving you insight into Oscar’s grandparents lives without them ever being on-screen was tough but rewarding to pull off. 

If possible, tell us about your next work. What plans do you have for your future work?

We are currently deep into pre-production for our next short “Donor”, a psychological thriller. We are so excited to work with some incredibly talented actresses and balance a longer, more complex narrative this time around. This project is a little bit bigger and bolder than “Collect Call” and I can’t wait to see what our crew puts together. Our crew is a mix of returning pieces from CC and new faces. It’s so important to make these things with people you love and there are so many people involved with this who mean so much to me. It makes the journey that much more enjoyable working with special people.  


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