Script Files

Awkward Town

Based on the real moments of a real person, AWKWARD TOWN is the story of self-discovery; becoming an adult along with discussions of sexism, racism, as well as cultural expectations from the perspective of Tiffany, a first generation Japanese-American woman. Sometimes dramatic, but ofttimes hilarious because of the awkward moments of sex, friendship, family, and young adulthood living in the close confines of a Navy port town where no one seems to escape, flourish or have any sort of privacy. This is the first of many uncomfortable stories of this woman’s journey to redemption, through relapse and recovery, all part of a grand tale that truly redefines a coming-of-age story.

  • Justin Harris
  • Project Type:
    Television Script
  • Genres:
    Comedy, Drama, Comedy-Drama, Dramedy
  • Number of Pages:
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Language:
  • First-time Screenwriter:
  • Student Project:
Writer Biography - Justin Harris

I was born in Tacoma, Washington in 1985, the youngest of three sons. I did not know my dad all that well as he was an irresponsible man, not at all a father figure as he was more concerned with getting wasted or high with his friends and screwing around on my mother with his high school sweetheart. My parents divorced when I was young and he was never around. There were many weekends my brothers and I would sit on the couch with our mitts and baseball caps waiting for him to come and he’d never show. I know he regretted this later in his life, but we never were able to make amends. He went into a diabetic coma and died in 2011. My mom has always been my main advocate of support and the reason I’m a screenwriter.

I come from a mixed background. My mom is black along with German and Cherokee, while my dad was Irish. The interesting things about growing up mixed, or as a “light-skinned brother” is hearing the multiple perspectives from just about everyone. For whatever reason, people feel they can confide in me their thoughts on race, which lead to sometimes enlightening, but often uncomfortable and terrifying conversations on the topic. I want to be able to say that my mixed heritage hasn’t been a factor in my life, but it definitely has throughout in social situations, employment opportunities, and even my relationships. A lot of this is reflected in my writing from my observations as an outsider for a typical demographic.

My first technical attempts at screenwriter were some time in the summer of 1994 after I had seen the kid’s comedy Camp Nowhere starring Christopher Lloyd. I enjoyed the movie so much I wanted to see more of it, so I wrote a sequel in which I made sure I was a character that got to experience the rambunctious fun as all the kids in the first movie. I don’t consider this the real deal, but I have to say that I was able to turn out a 65-page, unformatted but cohesive first draft on a typewriter in a matter of days at not even nine-years-old. Pretty impressive, if I do say so myself. It wasn’t until a few years later that I learned how to actually write a screenplay and discover it was my passion.

While a freshman in high school, I would say that I wasn’t the most outgoing of people. I had friends, but was soft spoken and didn’t really fit in. I was too light-skinned and nerdy to fit in with the hipper black crowd, and I was too black and poor to fit in with the affluent white people. I observed people and their actions, ofttimes perplexed by the absurdities and carelessness of people. I was also battling with questions of life, meaning, and existence, the way many teenagers do as they become more aware of the deeper realities of the world. I tried to convey my thoughts and emotions of questioning my actuality. My first approach was a novelization narrative, but I became lost in prose and my ability to tell a compelling story. Although I knew I could see a fantastic story in my head, I just didn’t know how to convey that message into a traditional novel approach. Frustrated, I shared my feelings of disappointment in myself with my mother, who then gave me a book that would change my life.

It’s a complete cliché, as so many writers I know discuss how the book “Screenplay” by Syd Field is the first book they read. But that was the book my mom gave me, and after reading the book and learning and understanding the structure of a screenplay, I knew I could turn the picture I saw in my head into a structured two-hour adventure. I wrote my first feature, a full 120-pages in only three days time. After completing an entire story with characters I created that conveyed my thoughts and feelings and told a story that was thought-provoking but also entertaining, I couldn’t stop. I wrote through high school, college and beyond. I have been writing consistently over the years and fine-tuning over 30 projects of various themes and genres.

In the early days of my writing, I took to the internet and writing forums, corresponding with screenwriters and asking advice as a young writer from the likes of Tom Matthews (Mad City), Ed Solomon (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Men in Black, Now You See Me), Jim Uhls (Fight Club, Jumper) and William Wheeler (Ray Donovan, Queen of Katwe). They were all extremely candid about the experiences they had being screenwriters, letting me know all about the good and plenty of bad and even nightmare moments that come with working in the business.

This prepared me for the work I did for the production company The Coalition Group (Huntsville) while associated with Radical Studios (Oblivion, Hercules, Abattoir) doing content development and uncredited rewrites on select projects. Since then, I have worked on film and television projects as a production assistant, grip, and art director. I currently work as a script reader for Slamdance Film Festival and International Screenwriters’ Association where I provide feedback for other writers while I continue to write about things I’m passionate about.

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Writer Statement

I understand the individual importance that comes from being a screenwriter as well as the requirement for a delicate balance between creativity, collaboration, and compromise. I wish to use my life experience and observations to share with the world stories that are real and often told from characters we typically do not hear from.