From ‘Black List’ to pitch: Lee’s Summit native’s script optioned in Hollywood

tporter@lsjournal.comOctober 23, 2013 

Lee’s Summit native Will Honley has spent the last seven years living in Los Angeles. Honley, a 2002 graduate of Lee’s Summit High School, recently had his script “Flashback” optioned for a movie. He also has an Oct. 25 wedding in the works.

COURTESY PHOTO

  • 7

    Number of years Lee’s Summit native Will Honley has spent living in Los Angeles.

Will Honley left Lee’s Summit years ago, and although he doesn’t get back much, he still holds a fondness for his hometown.

The 2002 graduate of Lee’s Summit High School is now a resident of Los Angeles, spending time cultivating a script that has been optioned for a movie. Honley has spent the last seven years in the land of LaLa after graduating from the University of Missouri with an MA in English and film. He later earned an MFA in screenwriting from the University of California-Los Angeles.

The cultures, just like the cities, are miles apart.

“It’s different,” Honley said recently from his perch in California. “It’s definitely different. I think people are a lot more urgent out here. There is an urgency out here that when I go back home people are a little bit more laid back, a little bit more friendly. It was rough for a while, but it’s been seven years, so I’m getting used to it.”

Honley’s script, “Flashback,” was once placed on the ‘Black List’ and named one of the top unmade movie scripts of 2011. He has spent time since re-writing and tightening the once in-demand script.

According to its website, the Black List is where movie-makers find scripts from the previous year that haven’t been made into movies. More than 200 Black List screenplays have been made as feature films since 2005.

“It took a while,” Honley said of writing the script. “It took a couple of passes to try to figure everything out. I’d been writing scripts for almost 10 years at that point, so it wasn’t the hardest thing ever, but it took some time. Even after I had finished my initial pass on it, which was about four or five drafts, my manager and I went back through it for a few more drafts. Then the agent threw in (suggestions) and we did a few more drafts. By the time it was optioned a lot of people had put a lot of work into it.”

“Will is one of the hottest, up and coming young writers in Hollywood,” said Honley’s manager Jesse Silver of Mindframe Films and Management. “He writes clearly and expertly and his style is really sought out by most of the major studios. He’s just really good at what he does.

“Writing for the screen is a skill and an art that takes many years to get good at and that’s even if you have the natural talent to begin with, which Will does. He’s worked really hard to get where he is and he’s on his way to being certainly one of the more successful writers in sci-fi, horror and thriller movies.”

In a competitive bidding process, Endgame Entertainment won a spec auction for Honley’s script, which centers on a NASA pilot who becomes the first human to break the speed of light and is later struck with amnesia. The pilot’s voyage through the script involves a search for the memories of who he was, but he soon discovers he has the ability to travel back in time. Along the way he rediscovers his love for his wife.

“When it came time, I met with three or four different agencies,” Honley said. “I actually got to pick who I wanted to go with, which is kind of insane. You spend so long just wanting anybody to read your stuff, and then to have several people coming to you being like, ‘we want to represent you,’ it’s kind of trippy.”

Not only is Honley’s professional life about to take flight, but his personal life is on the up tick as well. Honley, 29, will marry April Maguire Oct. 25 at Calamigos Equestrian in Burbank, Cali. Maguire, who earned a BA in English and film from Boston College and an MA in professional writing from the University of Southern California, is a screenwriter as well.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Honley said. “We are in full wedding preparation and it’s awesome. I can’t express how awesome it is. I get to marry her, things are happening with my career; it’s great.”

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