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Meet Prashant Thakker – Screenwriter

Today we’d like to introduce you to Prashant Thakker.

Prashant, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am a screenwriter. I get to observe the world around me, create stories about it, and if lucky, I get to tell them in 100 minutes or less. Writing has always been my passion, but for a long time, it wasn’t a part of my life. Four years ago, the rug was swept from under my feet, everything in my life changed. I lost my father and grandmother within months of each other. At the same time, my former career of 20 years came to an unexpected end. In a blink of an eye, I found myself dealing with major losses and navigating uncharted territories.

I truly believe the Universe speaks to you, if you are willing to listen. After my job loss, I remember sitting in front of my laptop one day and I came across a photograph. It was a cartoon of James Franco in a superhero costume, sitting on a multicolored unicorn riding on a yellow Vespa. Underneath it read, “Follow your dreams, freak.” That picture hit me like a ton of bricks. I asked myself out loud: What is it that you really want to do with your life? My financial stability was gone and I was going to have to start from scratch. I was at a crossroad, I could either look for a job in the same field I’d been in for decades, which was the safe thing to do, or I could go after my true passion—writing and film.

Around the same time, I also came across a manuscript I had written 20 years prior but had never pursued after becoming overwhelmed with edits. After a few rejection letters, I had given up, largely out of fear of failure. Nonetheless, that old manuscript reminded me I always wanted to write stories that make a difference. That day, I switched off my phone, sat down and began to write. Four years later, I have written two screenplays for which I received “Best Screenplay Pitch” awards at the Miami Media and Film Market two years in a row, and one of them is in the early stages of production. I have also co-written a feature film, which is now in post-production. Guess who produced it? James Franco!

Has it been a smooth road?
From a financial perspective, I worked many odd jobs to stay afloat. Painting homes, delivering food, running errands for others, you name it. I also depleted all my savings, but it was all worth it. I wasn’t about to give up on myself, or my dream this time around.

From a creative perspective, after my first screenplay was born, the real work began. I enrolled in a class at Studio 4 in Los Angeles that helped me perfect my script. For three months, I actually flew to L.A. once a week, attended class, and caught the red-eye flight back to Miami! Two more years and many, many drafts later, it was finally ready. In this industry, the struggles are endless. Persistence is the key to ultimate success, as is developing a thick skin to deal with constant rejection.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Screenwriters – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Although I am truly fond of comedy, I don’t really favor one specific genre. In the work I’ve done so far, I’ve had the opportunity to explore horror, drama and comedy. I like being a diverse writer and I like pushing the envelope. My main goal is, regardless of genre, to tell impactful, thought-provoking stories. I want to go where Hollywood is afraid of going. I also consider myself a feminist and want to tell more stories about women empowerment. In comedy, I have a rather sick sense of humor and if I get people to laugh along, then I’ve done my job.

The first script I wrote is a Mel Brooks-style comedy telling the story of The Nativity, but from the point of view of a determined, career-driven Mary of Nazareth. Her dream is to move to Egypt, where women have equal rights, and become a fashion designer for the Egyptian elite. Her plans are upended when a glamorous Angel breaks the news to her that she’s been chosen to give birth to the Messiah.

My second script, Horror Time, was a collaboration with eleven other writers under James Franco’s guidance. It’s a horror film due out later this year. I wrote the opening of the film, and in addition to the feature film, my individual work will be released as a separate short in the near future.

The latest script I worked on is a family drama about three siblings who, because of life circumstances, meet for the first time at their grandmother’s funeral in India. I can’t disclose much more about this project yet, but suffice to say, it’s a story that will tug at people’s hearts. I am collaborating with a brilliant writer/director, Karishma Kohli to bring it to fruition.

What sets me apart from the many talented screenwriters out there are my life experiences, because luckily, I’m the only one who has gone through my personal journey! I left India at a young age with my mother, running away from a difficult life of abuse. I grew up in many cities in the Midwest as a foreign adolescent who didn’t really understand he was a minority. As an adult, I’ve been lucky to see much of the world and I am fortunate enough to live in Miami, a melting pot for people from all over the globe, many with fascinating stories of their own. Living here and not in Los Angeles or New York, gives me the chance to tell stories that hopefully, will give Hollywood the fresh material it needs. Films like Moonlight and The Florida Project have gained major recognition and are putting Miami and Florida on the map, and I love living in a place that is able to tell these unique stories.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I absolutely love Miami. After leaving India, this is the first place I can truly call home. I could surely do without the traffic and the less-than-perfect driving.

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