Interview with Olivia Cevasco, Writer of Award Winning Screenplay

When did you start getting interested in making movies?

When I was in middle school, I was fascinated by “The Hunger Games” and awed by Suzanne Collins’ ability to write the trilogy then adapt the books for film. When I came up with a plotline for a sci-fi book series in 8th grade, I started to envision myself writing books then turning them into movies, like Suzanne Collins, so that kick started my interest in filmmaking.


What can you recommend to those who are interested in screenwriting? Any advice?

I would definitely recommend reading books on how to structure stories and write in the screenplay format, and most importantly, reading screenplays themselves! When I first started out with this film idea, I could see the scenes playing out in my head but was held back from writing it since I didn’t “know” how to write a screenplay. So I read screenwriting books like Save the Cat and The Hollywood Standard to learn about the story structure and format, then I read some great screenplays, like Hidden Figures, Good Will Hunting, and Green Book, to help develop my writing style. I’d also recommend reading a screenplay and then watching the movie directly afterward to see the transformation from paper to screen. 


What was your inspiration for your screenplay?

Last year, I made a documentary for National History Day about the same story as my screenplay “First Lady Astronauts.” The screenplay follows thirteen female pilots, nicknamed the “Mercury 13,” who passed NASA’s Project Mercury Astronaut tests in the early 1960s—some even out-performed John Glenn and the Mercury 7 astronauts, but NASA didn’t accept these women as astronauts because of their gender biases against women. When I was gathering research for this, I talked with two of three living Mercury 13 women and now have a collection of their interviews and stories. So this screenplay is based on a true story. 


What is your favorite movie?

This is a really tough question… I’d have to say the Hunger Games since the story is captivating and I love how Jennifer Lawrence plays Katniss.  


Are you working on any new projects at the moment?

I’m currently fleshing out ideas and scenes for the sci-fi story that I came up with in eighth grade and extending “First Lady Astronauts” from a short script to a feature.