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Huntington’s Screenwriting Mom: Gina O’Brien-Carroll

Gina with her movie poster

By Rosey Mulderrig

”Some Leaders Are Born Women “Series

Gina O’Brien Carroll grew up in Massapequa and worked as a summer intern at WBAB radio station.  She had such a good time at WBAB that as a freshman at SUNY New Paltz she went to work at the college radio station WFNP(it was here that she met her husband but that’s a whole other story).   Besides her radio gig, she also worked at the school newspaper selling ad space. An idea started taking shape in her mind about a possible career  in advertising and she took business and journalism classes.  Gina graduated, moved back home and landed an advertising internship at New York’s Channel 5. Later she took a job with ABC selling to national advertisers.  Even though her career was moving forward nicely, she soon grew bored with the job as well as the commute from Massapequa to NYC.

Little did she know that her distaste for the daily Long Island commute and desk job would be the force that pushed her toward a more suitable career path. To while away commuting monotony she began to write about her daily experiences on the LIRR.  This was in the Eighties when the LIRR was not so uptight and still had some local character. The bar car was packed and smoky, ad-men and Wall Street types bonded and cursed each other over lukewarm Budweisers.  The train was perhaps the best possible place to observe Long Islanders in their natural habitat.  The NY times picked up a story and Gina had the biggest thrill of her young life. Having a story published gave Gina the writing bug.  She worked her ABC connections and landed a job as a travel writer at Hotels and Resorts Around the World.

Gina married her boyfriend from the college radio station and even though she was now a senior editor, her job as a travel writer no longer felt like an adventure but more like… well, like a job. So she quit. She continued to write, picking up free-lance jobs and working out of her Manhattan apartment.  Before long Gina became pregnant and the suburbs became more appealing again.  Gina and her husband took a drive out to Huntington and absolutely loved the village.  They felt that the combination of beautiful homes and the thriving and culturally rich downtown of Huntington offered them the best of both the city and the ‘burbs.  Visiting the town’s locally-owned Book Revue clinched the deal for them and the family has been Huntington residents ever since.

A funny thing happened along with becoming a mother.  Gina began to have her writing inspired in a completely unexpected way. She found that her kids were feeding her funny and heartwarming information. For example in her debut  film, the daughter asks her mom “ Why don’t spiders get caught in their own web”? …  a question that originally came from Gina’s own daughter. Gina’s transformation into screenwriter began as she started to copy down dialogue from her kids and friends who were going through a similar phase in their lives. Never having written for film she went to Book Revue and bought ,”Screenwriting For Dummies”.  She’s no dummy but it got her started. Gina’s children were just two and five years old when she finished her first screenplay.  She wrote at night after her children were asleep. Instead of taking away from her children, Gina feels that it really made her a better mother because she paid close attention and tried to understand why they asked what they did or acted in certain ways.  Her now pre-teen daughter is clearly inspired by her mother and is usually found writing, acting or with a video camera in hand making YouTube flicks.It has been a great ride for Gina.  Her film “ Once More With Feeling” debuted at the prestigious 2009 Sundance Film festival, http://festival.sundance.org/2009/film_events/films/once_more_with_feeling/ and has played in several other festivals across the country since then :http://www.salemfilmfestival.com/2009/films/features/oncemorewithfeeling.html. It’s a  humorous and bittersweet film about the bonds of family.  The film appeals to people who have a little more life experience then your average twenty year old.  This march it will be available at Blockbusters and Netflix and it will be released for a limited run in Florida. In May it will be available on demand from the major cable companies.  Gina now has a manager and has begun writing her next film.If you ask Gina,”how do you get a movie made.”? She can’t give you a step by step answer but she does know that it takes creativity, the ability to laugh at yourself , and above all perseverance.Her advice for any women who are interested in writing a film is to write about what you know.  Listen closely to your children because they will offer you so many fresh and wondrous  ways to look at life. It may take a long time but just keep writing and don’t stop until you see your film  on the screen in the movie Theater.

“One thing they never tell you about child raising is that for the rest of your life, at the drop of a hat, you are expected to know your child’s name and how old he or she is.” – Erma Bombeck


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