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Interview with Pitch Your Story Contest Winners

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Jesse Grce



StoryLink congratulates Jesse Grce and Falk Hentschel, the winners of the 2008 StoryLink Pitch Your Story Contest for their pitch: "The Present."

Jesse Grce and Falk Hentschel were halfway through shooting the trailer for The Present when they heard about the StoryLink Pitch Your Story Contest.

“It sounded like a cool competition with some great prizes,” Grce says. “We thought it would be perfect thing for the trailer.”

Turns out, they were right. The team has written ten screenplays between them, and The Present, an action/thriller about “a homeless Iraq War veteran, who receives an anonymous gift of $1,000,000... that may cost him his life,” is their most recent—and most personal.

“It’s our favorite one,” Grce says. “And we’re hoping to get it off the ground soon, so it was perfect timing.”

“[Winning the contest] is a great opportunity to meet with Benderspink and pitching coach Pilar Alessandra, to give us like insight into the industry and getting some key contacts,” Hentschel adds. “The chance to meet people who have the power to do something if they like it, that’s big. That’s the biggest prize you can win, especially in Hollywood. It’s all about who believes in you and who stands behind you.”

Writer/director Grce, a graduate of the UCLA School of Film, Theater, and Television, co-founded the production organization Film Underground, and started a music video production company while still in school. Although he majored in screenwriting, Grce started out doing music videos, but went back to screenwriting, because he eventually wanted to end up in features.

“I think the best way to get yourself out there, as not only a writer but as a director is to write your own scripts, so you can carry yourself out into the industry,” he explains.

Actor/writer/producer Hentschel started his career in the entertainment industry in Germany at age 17. He worked in the UK and in Los Angeles as dancer and choreographer, before following his childhood dream to make a living as an actor.

“I decided I didn’t want to wait around to be cast,” he says, “so I wrote a short, and that’s how I met Jesse. And we ended up writing together. Rewriting. Writing new scripts.

“I just fell in love with writing. It’s a great thing to be able to write your own projects and your own parts. You can put so much more of the meaning in it and whatever you want to put into it as art.”

Grce and Hentschel both feel that writers should take inspiration from other arts, artists, and parts of life.

“A lot of my favorite authors, like Douglas Adams and Neil Gaiman and Charlie Kauffman, have very different styles then I do. I think as an artist, we shouldn’t take so much influence from the same category that you’re in.

“If you take too much inspiration from a writer, as a writer, then you start writing like someone else.”

“In general I get more inspired by friends who are inspiring,” Hentschel adds. “Just life and what’s around you. A nice picture. A photograph. Anything that inspires you to want to say something.”

The other key to successful writing…

“Live as fully as you can,” Hentschel says.

“And just write,” Grce adds. “That’s the key. Don’t give up. You always hit road blocks and stumbling blocks. But the people who succeed in the end are the ones who jump over those hurdles and just keep going. So just sit down and do it.”