Texas Screenwriters Diego McGreevy and Lee Shipman Storm Hollywood

Diego McGreevy (left) and Lee Shipman
Diego McGreevy (left) and Lee Shipman
Diego McGreevy (left) and Lee Shipman

I’ve read that perhaps one in a hundred thousand aspiring screenwriters manage to break into Hollywood. Texas screenwriting partners Brian McGreevy and Lee Shipman have beat those daunting odds.

Shipman, a tall, lanky Corpus Christi native, wears signature weathered cowboy boots and emanates an effortless cool. Partying with friends, he often has a cheap beer and a bottle of good whiskey on the table before him.

McGreevy, an adopted Texan originally from Pittsburg, acts as a talkative foil to Shipman. Athletic and an omnivorous reader, he can easily riff on a wide range of topics of interest, from Jungian analysis to Batman.

The two synergistic partners met while students at UT’s Michener Center for Writers. The ultra competitive MFA program, funded by the late James Michener’s generous donation, provides ten writers a year who are accepted with three years of funding to write. Both McGreevy and Shipman graduated from the program in 2007.

While at the Michener Center, Shipman and McGreevy took fiction and screenwriting workshops together and hit it off immediately. The first script that they co-wrote together—Of Every Wickedness—was based on the story of the serial killings of African-American servant girls in the central Austin former slave colony of Clarksville. The murders, which took place from 1884-1885, terrified Clarksville’s residents and prompted the short story writer O’Henry to dub the murderer the “Servant Girl Annihilator.”

McGreevy and Shipman’s script captured the changing nature of Austin in those years–though Austin was still a frontier town, Clarksville residents could see the new capitol building going up downtown—as well as the deep divisions and injustices caused by race, class, and gender. The script became a finalist in the Nichol Screenwriting Competition—which brought the two attention from Hollywood agents and managers as writers who can create compelling characters and a thrilling story within a thematically complex and richly textured world. With the combined power of their fertile imaginations in addition to a rock solid professionalism cultivated in graduate school, Hollywood took note: these guys had the goods.

From there, McGreevy and Shipman hit the ground running, flying out to Los Angeles for week-long stints of back-to-back meetings with producers, agents and managers. The two found they had a natural talent for charming Hollywood moviemakers. Currently the projects they have in the works include a remake of Brian De Palma’s 70s thriller The Fury, a big-budget reinvention of the story of King Arthur, a contemporary gangland adaptation The Count of Monte Cristo. They are also making brave new inroads into the television world, developing a dramatic series for producer Laurence Fishburne.

The two young men seem almost invincible in their success. Young, handsome, and fun, with a friendship and creative partnership that is enviable.

But each has his secret weakness. Shipman’s is—surprisingly—Karaoke. If there is a mike in the room, it’s in Shipman’s hand. He croons Sinatra and Johnny Cash with an enthusiasm that makes you wonder at the complexities below his normally contained exterior. And McGreevy has a private and demanding mistress: fiction. He has spent the last four years compulsively editing the same manuscript, and with no end in sight it is looking less and less like a novel and more like a manifesto.

The rise of the talented duo who has bucked the odds and made the Hollywood break should be a boon to moviegoers. And I for one am looking forward to seeing the fruits of their writing labors on the big screen.

Author: Mary Pauline Lowry

 

Mary Pauline Lowry, a fourth generation Texan, fought forest fires on an elite type 1 “Hotshot” crew, which traveled the Western U.S battling wildfires.

More recently, Lowry has dedicated her time to the movement to end violence against women, counseling and advocating for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, as well as lobbying the Texas legislature for funding and new laws to benefit survivors.

Mary Pauline Lowry’s unsold novel, The Gods of Fire, based on her experiences as a forest firefighter, has been optioned for film. She is currently writing the screenplay.

15 thoughts on “Texas Screenwriters Diego McGreevy and Lee Shipman Storm Hollywood”

  1. As a newbie screenwriter and not-quite-so-newbie fiction and creative nonfiction writer…yeah, I'm jealous. But as a Texan I'm also proud! I can't wait to see one of their movies on the big screen.

    (It helps my ego to know that even someone this talented is still editing the same manuscript after four years.)

  2. Great article! Hope these guys make it and enrich the big screen with a unique perspective. Too bad their Clarksville story isn’t slated for production—it sounds more interesting than the remakes. Maybe someday.

  3. Sandra, as a Clarksville resident, I am rooting for the making of the movie about the Servant Girl Annihilator, too.

    And Barbara, I’m glad to hear about your creative projects. How cool that you are tackling a new genre.

  4. Thanks for your always great pieces about Texans and Austinites in the arts! You’ve got a nose for quality, and a pen and platform for spreading the word to the world. I always enjoy your work…

  5. It would have been nice if Olivia's life before centuries ago should be shown in season 3 of hemlock grove…also peter being summoned among a wolf council for explanation..

  6. The points you shared relating the Texan and Austin art is really informative, this is adding value to the art work, essay writing service will provide with the help in the English paper and you will secure more marks in the paper.

  7. If you want to put to an end having to seek essay writing services then we need to learn as students how to write the essay for and on ourselves. However, this may not come easy because most students don’t want to leave their thinking comfort zones and struggle.

  8. I have heard about these young scriptwriters in the Hollywood and I am very happy to hear about them. I think they have been getting better support and advices from their seniors in Hollywood. They are utilizing it in the right manner.

  9. Writing is the key to your success in college and at a job. You should not just think of writing as a chore, but a process to convey your thoughts, ideas and visions. Before you even pick up a pen or sit at a keyboard you should try and develop a voice for your paper.

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