Spec Spotlight: Donald Diego Takes Inspiration From His “Wedding Year”
Donald Diego went to six weddings last year, including his own. “I was like, ‘Oh, I’m so happy for you but I actually have to call my caterer with final numbers for my wedding.’”
There should be a special kind of commendation for that amount of juggling. What he found instead was a prime writing opportunity. During a hiatus from his TV writing (he is the Executive Story Editor on ABC’s new American Housewife and previously wrote for Community) and during a steady stream of weddings, Diego wrote The Wedding Year, his first feature film script. The spec chronicles one woman’s journey through her own jam-packed wedding year (15 in 12 months!), which forces her to confront her own feelings not only about marriage but about her future in general. Lakeshore Entertainment recently acquired the script.
“I started writing [The Wedding Year] when it dawned on me – we would get one invitation and then my wife would get one and I finally realized, ‘this is a lot’… I thought this would be a funny thing for a couple to go through and then going through it affirmed that idea. It’s insane. Weddings are always fun but the family is crazy and friends get weird.“
Speaking for many of us in our late 20s/early 30s, “I can relate”. I went to five weddings last year, myself, my role ranging from plus-one to Maid of Honor. And weirdness was a common denominator. As was love and friendship and truly fantastic dance parties. But there is something almost undefinable that pervades the planning and celebrating of weddings, a unique stress that brings out qualities just as unique in those participating.
For Diego’s protagonist this stress becomes a catalyst. “She’s a young kid and it’s about whether she wants to take that next step, not only with marriage but with her own life, whether she wants to make that transition into adulthood,” Diego says.
Diego got his own start into adulthood in Boston doing improv comedy and sketch writing. “That’s when I knew I didn’t care about classes anymore, I just wanted to do that. But I didn’t know that being a film writer or a TV writer was a thing that I could do – it just didn’t cross my mind that was an actual job.”
From there he moved to New York and began interning at The Onion News Network writing web sketch shows. He made ends meet as a barista. “I was that guy making your cappuccino and writing scripts on the side,” he laughs.
His knowledge of the industry limited at that time, he began cold calling agencies. “I didn’t know any better to be scared of calling agencies. I just started calling CAA and was like, ‘Hey, will you read me?’ I actually got read but then that relationship withered because I was this crazy person just calling them out of the blue.”
“Then I got smarter about it,” he says. “I got a friend at a production company to email for me so I didn’t look that crazy. A person who is kind of reputable kind of vouches for me.”
He’s now with WME and Think Tank Management, his work vouching for itself. To writers just starting out now he advises that it’s “OK to admit you don’t know everything. It’s OK to doubt yourself. I’m not one to say ‘never give up’ but there are going to be down days for any number of reasons and it’s going to make you think, ‘what am I doing?’ But you have to push through that. Hold your nerves and stay on target. Just keep going, which is the thing I just said I wouldn’t say.”
And as for his wedding schedule? “We’re finally almost done. I think we have two more next year and then hopefully we’ll have a good five or six year block before babies start.”
Director of The Big Break Screenwriting Contest
Eva Gross is the Director of the Big Break™ Screenwriting Contest. She studied writing at Emerson College in Boston and has enjoyed time as a journalist, a book buyer, a script reader and a Collections Processor with the Writers Guild Foundation Library and Archive.