Screenwriter Jamie Campbell on “Call Me Thor”

Jamie Campbell, photo by Manon Haliburton

For the past decade, Jamie Campbell has been a nationally touring stand-up comedian, improviser, and storyteller.  In 2017, Jamie took a leap into more personal work and wrote a solo storytelling show, The Devil On the Wall or, That Time I Got Kidnapped.  These performances garnered critical acclaim in their appearances at fringe festivals and independent venues across the U.S. He began screenwriting as a way to bring that story to a broader audience. That is how the feature screenplay, Call Me Thor, was born. 

NY Elite Exclusive Interview with Screenwriter Jamie Campbell

NY Elite: Congratulations on being an ISC finalist. What does it mean for your work to be selected at the International Screenwriting Competition in New York?

Jamie Campbell: I am honored to have my work selected at this year’s International Screenwriting Competition in New York.  To me, this means that I’m on the right track. My screenplay has received a lot of attention, but is still unproduced.  I hope that accolades like this will get it one step closer to finding the right creative team to take it from the page to the screen.

NY Elite: Can you tell us about the work that you participated with at ISC? What is the story about?

Jamie Campbell: My screenplay, Call Me Thor, takes place in 1991, and tells the story of a chubby, heavy metal-loving preteen who uses music as an escape from his abusive home life.  When his criminal father sues for custody, his mother, who fears losing him, takes him on the run. They change their names and go into hiding from the abusive men who refuse to let them go.  It’s a fictionalized screenplay that is loosely based on some things that happened to me as a child.

NY Elite: Can you tell us yourself and your artistic talents?

Jamie Campbell: I am a multidisciplinary writer/performer, currently based out of Kansas City. In addition to screenwriting, I also write sketch comedy and do freelance articles for various online sites.  I am in the process of writing my next hour-long solo show, which will be mostly stand-up comedy combined with some storytelling.  I also perform improvised comedy as a member of the professional ensembles of The KC Improv Company and The Bird Comedy Theater.

NY Elite: What scripts have you written so far?

Jamie Campbell: In addition to Call Me Thor, I’ve written a comedy called Gary Wakes Up, which is about a man waking up after a very long coma and having to adjust to the things that changed while he was asleep, and Dead, Baby., a short horror/thriller where a woman discovers the man she loves is actually someone from her past who is seeking revenge.

More recently, I finished an early draft of Saving Daylight – a teen sci-fi screenplay about a teenage girl who can predict the future.  I’m currently working on an undercover crime drama when I’m not polishing those other scripts.

NY Elite: Top 3 favorite projects that you have been involved in?

Jamie Campbell: Most of the artistic work that I’ve done has been on the performance side, but since we’re focusing on my writing, I’ll keep this answer geared toward that.

Call Me Thor is my favorite of the screenplays I have written. I believe it is only a matter of time before the right producer decides to develop it for the screen.  It’s my most personal writing project.

For several years, I was  a staff writer for a webseries called Lunch and Learn, which I was also a principal actor in.  I loved the creative process of brainstorming each of those episodes.  The show was sort was sort-of like The Office, if it took place in an interior design firm.  It was my first experience seeing my ideas come to life with a full production team.

When I was in Chicago, just after I had graduated from The Second City’s Conservatory program, one of my classmates, Amanda Murphy,  and I co-wrote a musical together. It was called fourplay.  It won a Broadway World Award for the “Best New Work” in Chicago Theatre. I was really proud of the audience’s response to the show, and it was my first time collaborating with a writing partner. I’m still proud of the work we did.

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

Jamie Campbell: I am interested in writing scripts that are full of hope.  I want to create work that finds some light in the darkness.  I want actors to have fun playing my characters and I want audiences to wish that they lived in the worlds that I create.

NY Elite: As a writer, what is the most important aspect of building a character?

Jamie Campbell: I think taking the time to get to know your characters before you start to write your script is such an important step. Taking the time to figure out who each character is, what they want, and where they are on their own life’s journey before you even put them into a scene helps you to stay true to who they are. The audience can tell when something doesn’t fit. Every character is the star of their own story, even if they’re only in the screenplay for a moment.

NY Elite: What projects are you currently working on?

Jamie Campbell: In addition to the screenwriting I previously mentioned, I’m working on a solo show that is a combination of stand-up comedy, storytelling, and audience interaction.  When I was younger, I was an angrier, more aggressive performer.  I’ve gotten some perspective on life and am in a much more joyous place these days. The show examines growing into middle age, and discovering you’re not the same person you used to be, and that’s okay.  I’m hoping to tour it to fringe festivals and independent venues over the next year or two.

NY Elite: Do you express yourself creatively in any other ways?

Jamie Campbell: I’ve mentioned stand-up and screenwriting. I also perform as an improviser. I love creating comedy with someone else, and experiencing a room full of people laughing. Here’s hoping the world will get back to the place where a large group can sit in the same room and laugh safely together again.

NY Elite: What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career in filmmaking/writing?

Jamie Campbell: This advice goes for anyone looking for a career as an artist. Follow the joy.  Create work that gives you that feeling in the pit of your stomach. The feeling I’m talking about is that lightness you feel when the spark of possibility ignites.  And know this – everyone isn’t going to love your work. Everyone isn’t going to offer you opportunities. Learn what you can from them, and move on, in the direction of joy. Sometimes, you’ll have to make your own opportunities.  Sometimes, you’ll fall on your face.  Get up. Learn from the experience, and keep moving forward.

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