Class of 1990
By Jeremy Tomono
Which class of 1990 graduate is a soon-to-be famous script writer? Melanie Dixon of course! How did she get there? She explains that she “kind of fell into all this by accident” and didn’t go to film school, like most script writers do.
The script writing process is an extremely long one, and you need to have tough skin to make it all the way. First, you need to get your script optioned. This basically means that film producers are renting your script by paying you an annual cost in order to be able to buy the script when they are satisfied with it. Then, the producers make a deal with a film company such as Lionsgate UK (the company that is willing to purchase Melanie’s script), and then the revising stage takes place. It takes an average of 5 years to write a script, and she has already written as many as 50 drafts of her script.
A script writer needs to be able to accept criticism, especially constructive criticism. Melanie has heard things like, “This is terrible. You need to do better," and has experienced being shot down and disagreed with countless times. In reality, only one out of every twenty scripts that are optioned are actually produced, and that’s not a very large number.
Melanie attended Yale University in New Haven, Conn. and majored in American Studies, with a concentration in American Literature. After college, she had an idea for a novel and began working on it. However, she discovered that her strength was in writing dialogue, not in writing descriptive passages. So when people suggested that she pursue becoming a script writer, she decided to give it a try. She took classes, attended retreats, and studied films and scripts to perfect her craft. Once she felt confident that she knew what she was doing, she began to write her script. When her script was optioned, she says it was basically a miracle. Like actors, most writers she knows have to get side jobs like working in a mail room or waiting tables before they get their big break.
When she attended Waiakea High School, Melanie was the goalkeeper on the girls’ soccer team and even went on to play for the Yale soccer team. After Waiakea was named the best soccer team on the Island, she remembers that she got thrown into the showers while still wearing her uniform. She recognizes Ms. Patricia Richardson, Mrs. Cherlyn Chong, Mrs. Yvette Bright-Poai and Mrs. Shellie Naungayan as her most influential teachers. She also played in the marching band, and participated in numerous student government activities. She has been married to her husband Greg for 10 years and they have a 5 year-old daughter named Sydney who loves Hawaii and would love to move back one day. They are currently expecting another child. One of her other interesting talents is that she makes a “mean ohelo berry pie,” when she can get her hands on enough berries.