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Writing Plays/Screenwriting/How much does country of screewriter matter?


QUESTION: Hello Barry,

You're Canadian (very close to my area) but would you or Canadian writers have any problem writing a script taking place in America with American characters?

I was amazed that the lead actors and director of 12 Years a Slave weren't Americans, but did better than Americans. What does this tell us? Can non-American writers feel unhinderd about writing screenplay based on American book? (Or vice versa)


Citizen of America
Citizen of America  
ANSWER: Hi Demetrius,
Nice to hear from you.

Your question is an interesting one.

Here's how I have always viewed this issue. Writers ought to be world citizens. We ought to consider the world our oyster, and fee free to write what engages us, what fires our interest.

For example, I'm writing a novel entitled CITIZEN OF AMERICA, set in 1811, about a young Irish man who immigrates to America in order to escape a charge of treason in his homeland. He lands in Baltimore, and through a series of circumstances finds himself on the run again.

I don't at all feel that I'm letting my fellow Canadian writers down, or that I'm usurping territory of American authors, because I firmly believe that writers, along with all creative artists shouldn't be restricted by borders.

When I began my film and television career, I wrote film scripts for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and I moved on gradually to write and produce for the U.S. market, as well as Canadian broadcasters.

I invite you and writers all over the world to write any work they wish to, be it Canada, the U.S., the U.K., France, Afghanistan, or outer space. Write for what captures your interest and your creative muse.

Best of success to you and all writers everywhere.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Your Citizen of America sounds fascinating. One question  burns in my brain and I have to ask.Why did you choose to set the story long ago and not today?
Which begs the question: when and why should a story take place in the past and when today?
He could be running from something other than charge of treason correct?
Like a girl's father with a gun for what he did to her.

Hi Demetrius,

Well, you have a point there. Necessary element for any story is a hero with a lot of jeopardy. You've got that right.

The reason I write historical fiction is that I happen to be passionate about it, especially the Mississippi River and the burning of Washington D.C. (1814).

I like doing research, and portraying what it was like to live in a certain era. It's a little like creating a place of the future in Science Fiction.

At this particular time in history, the United States almost became swallowed up by Great Britain. The hero in my book plays a part in defending the nascent nation.

Main point is that writers, in my opinion, need to write about people, places, and things that fascinate them.

If you want to read some of the book, it's on the website

All the best,

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Barry Pearson


I`m a credited writer on nine feature films. My latest movie, IRON ROAD, which stars Peter O'Toole and Sam Neill, opened as feature, then aired as a four-hour miniseries on network television. Sun Li, the Chinese star, won the best actress award at the Roma Fiction Fest recently. I’ve produced more than 300 episodes of television drama, including 13 episodes of Deepwater Black, and 106 episodes of Katts & Dog (Rin-Tin-Tin, K-9 Cop in the U.S.). I've answered over 1200 All Experts questions!


I've been in the business of writing and producing feature films, television series, and MOW's for over 20 years. You can check me out at this URL

You can find my books on Amazon. See DON'T LET ANYONE STEAL YOUR STORY ( is a stripped-down readable summary of copyright, full of entertaining anecdotes and real-life examples. Read about the true horror stories that clearly show you what you need to do to avoid the misfortune of having your literary material stolen. Find out: * How to take simple inexpensive steps to protect yourself, before, during, and after you write your literary work. * How copyright law applies to writers of literary works. * How literary works enter public domain, and how you can use it to your advantage. * What aspects of literary works are protected by copyright, and what aspects are not protected. * How to create documentation that will prove your copyright entitlement in the event of an infringement on your rights. * How you can protect yourself if you are contracted to write for television. You’ll also get a FREE sample of an Option and Purchase Agreement, a contract used in the acquisition of rights in a literary property—a contract that you and your lawyer can customize for your property. Written by a writer, for writers, Don’t Let Anyone Steal Your Story will help you protect yourself against plagiarists and anyone else who might infringe your right of sole ownership. ------------- Also on Amazon, my book of four short stories, THE TWENTY-BUSHEL RACER. A man’s redemption from bitterness enables him to become a loving father. A teenager discovers the importance of his attachment to the people in his life and the place where he is growing up. A man, who has for years considered himself a coward and a betrayer of his comrades, musters the courage to stand up against a pair of would-be assassins. Two young men, who grew up in the same town, meet unexpectedly, reminisce about a girl they both loved when they were boys, and unveil a truth that changes both their lives.

Master of Arts degree (Drama)

Awards and Honors
Among my awards are Best Screenplay, Best Picture, at the International Film & Television Festival of New York for THE LIFE AND TIMES OF EDWIN ALONZO BOYD, Best Screenplay, Feature Film, at the 12th International Film Festival in Sitges, Spain for PLAGUE, and a Special Jury Award, Feature Film at the San Francisco International Film Festival for PLAGUE.

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