TV and screenwriter Chris Easterly is a graduate of the Act One screen and television writing program and the prestigious Warner Brothers Writers Workshop. He has written for Cartoon Network’s first live-action mystery adventure series Unnatural History, as well the screenplay for Click Clack Jack, and a new project, The Shunning premiering tomorrow night (Saturday 4/26) on The Hallmark Channel.
Emmy® and Golden Globe Award Nominee Sherry Stringfield and Danielle Panabaker Star in the Hallmark Channel Original Movie Chris adapted from Beverly Lewis’ best-selling novel. The Shunning is the retelling of some of the heartbreaking experiences of Lewis’ maternal grandmother in the Amish Community of the Old Order Mennonite Church.
Executive producers Brian Bird, Michael Landon Jr. and Maura Dunbar selected Chris to write the screenplay for Believe Pictures and Lightworks Pictures. Said Bird, “I chose to give a newer, younger writer an opportunity to write this film… We hired Chris …and he knocked it out of the park.” (See, Opening Doors for Others: An Interview with Brian Bird.)
In celebration of tomorrow night’s premiere of Beverly Lewis’ ‘The Shunning’ I asked Chris a few questions about the film and about the greatest influences on his life and his writing.
An Interview with TV and screenwriter Chris Easterly
THW: Yesterday Brian Bird told us how he specifically selected you to write the screenplay so he could keep his promise to his mentor, Michael Warren, to open doors for future writers. What was that like?
Chris Easterly: It was a great experiencing working for both Brian and director Michael Landon, Jr. They are pros at developing story, so I learned a lot from them.
THW: Like what?
CE: I remember they suggested one scene in particular, and in my naïveté, I thought it might not work. But after putting it in the script and seeing how it worked in the context of the whole movie, it really packed a strong emotional punch.
THW: What did you take away from that?
CE: (Laughs) It taught me I don’t know as much as I thought, or at least that my instincts aren’t always right!
THW: Okay, other than Brian and Michael, who are the people who have really influenced you? Let’s start with books.
CE: Hmmm? Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, by Madeleine L’Engle, Evangelical is Not Enough, by Thomas Howard; and God’s Fool: The Life and Times of Francis of Assisi, by Julien Green.
THW: Beyond individual books, any authors who have helped you over the years?
THW: You’re a TV writer, any TV shows really impact you?
THW: That’s quite an eclectic list.
THW: Any more?
CE: I could go on all day, but that’s enough for now.
THW: Okay, going back to The Shunning, I understand you got to be on set for the film shoot. What was that like?
CE: It was amazing seeing it all come to life. The local North Carolina crew was exceptionally professional and cool.
THW: Did you enjoy the whole movie “scene”?
CE: Absolutely! It was fun to just loiter on set, behind the video monitor, in the wardrobe trailer, at the craft services table.
THW: Any regrets?
CE: I tried to get onscreen as an Amish extra, but they wrapped early that day. Oh, well. Maybe next time…
THW: I would have loved to see you in Amish garb.
CE: Me too!
Don’t miss The Shunning: Saturday (April 16): The Hallmark Channel at 9pm (8pm Central).
Other Two Handed Warrior TV Writer and Screenwriter Interviews:
Sheryl J. Anderson (Charmed, Flash Gordon, Dave’ World)
Dean Batali (That 70’s Show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hope and Gloria)
Brian Bird (Touched by an Angel, The Shunning, Not Easily Broken)
Kevin Chesley (The Hard Times of RJ Berger)
Jessica Rieder (Leverage, Hawaii Five-O)
Monica Macer (Lost, Prison Break, Teen Wolf)
Michael Warren (Happy Days, Family Matters, Two of a Kind, Step by Step, Perfect Strangers).
Chris Easterly on ‘Paparazzi in the Hands of an Angry God’ – Icons of Heroic Celebrity:
Randall Wallace (Braveheart, Secretariat) Speech to President Obama and World Leaders at the National Prayer Breakfast