<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=252463768261371&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

How Josh Flanagan Found His Screenwriting Calling with Big Break

June 13, 2024
9 min read time

Josh Flanagan, the Comedy Feature Winner for the 2022 Final Draft's Big Break Screenwriting Contest, didn’t plan on being a writer. Initially, he wanted to be a director at the University of Texas in Austin’s film school. However, that soon changed when he realized that, while he didn’t have the experience of being a storyteller, as someone with a bit more life experience (he was an Army vet before college), he had more stories he wanted to tell compared to his peers.

“There was a maturity difference in terms of the storytelling and I wasn’t able to get the type of writing I was hoping for from others, so I was just like, I think I have to do this for myself,Flanagan tells Final Draft.

At this time, he also became friends with screenwriters Anthony Bagarozzi and Chuck Mondry, who recently co-wrote the Road House 2024 reboot. Flanagan recalls this as a "serendipitous moment" that helped him realize that writing was his true calling.

Read More: How To Give Your Screenplay Your Voice

A pencil and notepad on a white table

After graduation, Flanagan worked with the Austin-based production company Rooster Teeth, where he was one of the lead creatives in the live-action department. He cut his teeth (no pun intended) writing and directing small- and large-scale web series “in every genre imaginable,” ranging from murder mysteries to sci-fi apocalypses to half-hour sketch comedies.

However, the initial desire to make movies still gnawed at Flanagan. After the pandemic settled in 2021, he decided he wanted to move out to Los Angeles.I had a couple of scripts I felt good about and wanted to finally try out this moviemaking route,he says.

The first thing he did was put his scripts through the screenwriting contest circuit. He recalls being verystrategicabout which contests to enter with Big Break being at the top of his list.

“There was so much good feedback about it and I knew friends who did well in it and had effectively used it to get their scripts read and optioned, so it was a big push to get mine into it,” he says.

Flanagan submitted his autobiographical comedy feature, The Six-Day Detective, which is based on his father’s suicide and his own experience of trying to piece together what happened to his dad and why. “Basically, I became a detective for the week after his death,” he says. “I investigated his suicide as a murder just to see what I could find and make sure that no one did something to push him over. So I wrote the movie—the true story of my mourning psychosis investigating my dad’s death—and it’s also funny because it’s me.”

Big Break 2024 - Extended - 1200 x 675

The comedy feature winner was optioned by Legacy Pictures, and Flanagan signed with UTA. Flanagan says they’re in the middle of casting for the movie now and often use Big Break as a talking point when they pitch it to actors.

Read More: Five Steps To Successful Pitching

“Even before it was optioned, we’d say that the script got a lot of love on the contest circuit, and Big Break is the top accolade there, so it’s pretty cool and great to see the momentum that Big Break gives you to get that script in front of people, to get people excited about it before they read it," he says.

After Big Break, Flanagan landed the head writer job on the TV series Elkhorn, which premiered in April 2024. He is currently working on a Western movie in development with Kevin Hart’s company, as well as writing a social media horror movie.

When it comes to his writing process, Flanagan says it differs for each project, but is usuallychaos.

“I kind of have a first phase that’s laying out the puzzle pieces where I just vomit out every idea that I have whether that’s a line, a character, or a scene. And on top of that I do a bunch of research,” he says. “I’ll watch comparable TV shows or movies, and read comparable scripts. And then I’ll just dump these ideas and look for connective patterns.” He might write a loose outline, but generally likes to “get to the page as soon as I can.”

Screenwriting; How Josh Flanagan Found His Screenwriting Calling with Big Break

When it comes to his advice for writers who are interested in submitting to Big Break, Flanagan says that the contest "can really be fantastic for telling you how your script speaks to people and how you can market it afterward. It can be really helpful for analyzing the strengths of your script and determining its true form."

As for what you should submit, Flanagan says, "Don’t be afraid to submit something strange and personal. Because that’s what my script is. It’s not a commercial script and it’s not a traditional script in many ways. I broke a lot of the rules, and while I don’t want to give advice on breaking rules, I was very confident about what I did and knew the kind of journey I wanted to take the reader on. I think, at the end of the day, a good script is going to shine through."

Read More: 10 Benefits To Entering Screenwriting Competitions


Enter the Big Break Screenwriting Contest! 

Extended Deadline ends June 28th

Untitled Document