Meet the Crew – Writer & Co-Producer Kelly Morr

I initially approached Kelly to be our producer in San Francisco (since Curt and I are both based in Los Angeles). She had so many notes on the script, I eventually just asked, “Do you want to write this together?” And of course she did!

Why did you become a writer?

Kelly Morr

Kelly Morr

Being a writer was something I wanted to do from a very young age. My mother is a librarian and spent a lot of time reading to me and my sister when we were children.* Through this, I developed a love for books and stories. I always knew I wanted to be the one telling the stories (well, either that or be a professional basketball player, but my below average height and lack of ball-dribbling skills put that dream to rest).

As a teenager, I found an identity with the theater geeks. I did some acting as well as costume design, writing, and directing. Reading is one way of experiencing a story, but people and visuals add a whole other layer. I knew I wanted to get into filmmaking in college, and I did. So writing plus movies somehow added up to screenwriting.

*and by children, I mean we read aloud together until I was probably a senior in high school.

Did you go to school for writing?

Yup! I actually think I learned a lot of fundamentals that still influence my style and writing when I was just a kid; I had a really fantastic creative writing teacher for a few summers at the Denver School for the Arts named Mrs. Clark. In terms of more formal/fancy stuff, I basically made up my own major at Dartmouth that focused on storytelling through film. And I have an interdisciplinary creative writing degree called a Master of Professional Writing from USC.

Is this where I’m supposed to make some bad joke about the school of hard knocks or something, too?

No, that’s Curt’s line. What’s the first thing you remember ever writing?

My mother also facilitated me as a writer: I would tell her stories and she would type them up for me and I would illustrate them. I won my first state-wide writing contest in first grade for a book I wrote about a leprechaun trying to find out where the sky ends by asking all of his animal friends. The fish thinks it ends at the edge of the ocean, the ant think it ends at the tips of the grass, etc. (SPOILER ALERT: The answer is “at the end of the rainbow.” I do not remember which wise animal friend teaches the leprechaun this important lesson.)

An illustration from a story Kelly wrote at age 10.

An illustration from a story Kelly wrote at age 10.

Man, now I’m taking a trip down memory lane thinking of all the super awesome stuff I wrote about as a kid. I won’t bore you with all of the details, but some highlights include: brontosauruses, time machines, the scrubbing bubbles, crazy brainwashing cults (okay, the last one may have come more during my angsty teenage years.) There was also this annual contest called, if I remember correctly, the Holocaust Contest, where kids had to write stories or create art that commemorated WWII and the holocaust. So, yeah, there were some nazis and death camps in there, as well. Now that I think about it, that’s a very dark competition for children. The 90s were crazy years.

What accomplishments are you really proud of?

You mean other than getting third one year in the Holocaust Contest? In terms of my screenwriting I’ve twice placed in the top ten percent of the Nicholl’s Fellowship competition.

I’m also not exclusively a screenwriter. Probably one of the pieces I’m most proud of is my first novel, which landed me an agent. We’re currently shopping for a publisher for that book. I’m also finishing up the first draft of novel #2. There are a lot more words in novels than in screenplays.

How did you get involved in Other Halves? What drew you to the project?

Matt and I met in 2007, I think, and we were part of the same writing group for a couple of years. The group dissolved, but we stayed friends. In summer of 2014, I was in town visiting and we had brunch and spent a good chunk of it discussing this intriguing seed of an idea that Matt had for a project: it was influenced by Jekyll and Hyde, and played with technology in the modern world and identity. Okay, maybe I’m making us sound smarter than we were: essentially, Matt wanted to make a movie where a person is stalked by someone and that person turns out to be… HERSELF!

A few months later he sent me a short, very early draft of a script for feedback. I liked it and wanted to be more involved with the project. We reconceptualized some stuff and rewrote it together. I was really excited to get back to screenwriting, as I’ve been focusing on fiction for the past few years.

What is your writing process like? In particular, how do you approach a project like Other Halves?

I’m a super structured writer; I have to have a complete outline before I start putting words on paper. I’d not written anything with a partner before, so it was interesting to feel out the process with another person. Thankfully it all just kind of worked out.

Matt and I have different strengths and I think we push each other to be better. We spent more than a few nights talking for several hours, figuring out the plot and characters and arcs and logic of the story (probably longer than Matt wanted).

[Matt here: I never get tired of talking.]

But once that was done, we could both just jump into whatever scene in the script we wanted and either write or edit. We used Writer Duet, which allows you to track what your partner is doing, make comments, and have conversations. There were only a few jokes we kept changing back and forth.

You’re also a co-producer on the film. What’s that experience like?

Kelly Morr, in control.

Kelly Morr, in control.

Lots of people don’t know what producers do. That’s because producers apparently do everything! It’s been a bit of a crash course for me in terms of learning more about the business side of filmmaking.

Thankfully our producer, Curt, has a lot more experience than I do. Because we are a small crew, and I am located in the Bay Area, a lot of logistical stuff like finding locations and hiring people has fallen to me. Luckily, I really enjoy making lists and checking things off of them!

Tell us about some of the other projects you have coming up.

It’s more concurrent than upcoming, but I’m finishing a historical fiction novel set in the Galapagos Islands at the moment. Matt and I are also kicking around some ideas for scripts, some similar to Other Halves and some very different. Would you like me to be more vague?

Now that you’ve seen the script up on its feet with the actors, how do you feel about Other Halves?

Excited! I mean, maybe I’m biased because I got to help hire them all, but I think we ended up with an incredibly talented cast and crew. You know that old idiom about a whole being greater than the sum of its parts?* Well I think somehow we are making that happen with this project, like so much so that I’m worried if I say too much about it I’m going to jinx us.

*According to Google this may be attributed to Aristotle or German Gestalt psychologist Kurt Koffka.

Anything else that I forgot to ask about?

There were no questions about figure skating or cats.

Here's a picture of Kelly skating.

Here’s a picture of Kelly skating.