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Local screenwriter finds his voice and perhaps an opportunity

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Shawn Landrum hopes he has a big break on the way.

The 37-year-old screenwriter’s work was nominated at the Peachtree International Film Festival in Atlanta, and actors will do a 10-minute table read of his script at 11 a.m. Oct. 29 on Zoom, followed by a Q&A.

Landrum was nominated for “Goons for Hire: The Rise of Norm,” a story about a college freshman who goes to a career day with the intent of helping his family out of debt in this alternate, futuristic universe, and he ends up meeting a criminal organization.

Landrum, who lives in Westfield, has been a screenwriter for the past three years. He’s won a few film festivals and been selected in others in recent months, but this one is a bigger deal. The Peachtree International Film Festival is an Oscar-qualifying event, and industry executives will surely get a look at Landrum’s work when the actors do their read.

The ultimate hope is one of the executives likes it enough to start the process of turning the script into a movie. “Goons for Hire” is 120 pages, which would make it about a two-hour film.

Even if that’s not what happens, though, Landrum knows he’s come a long way.

The married father of three was diagnosed in his teens with an irregular heartbeat, which started acting up in his 20s and 30s.

“I’d wake up out of my sleep and my heart’s going a hundred miles per hour,” he said.

Landrum went from working two jobs and coaching his kids’ basketball teams to realizing he had to change some things about his lifestyle.

He kept the janitorial company he started — though he works less now — and started helping train young basketball players. Landrum lost 80 pounds in the process and is going on 2 1/2 years without heart issues.

As a kid, Landrum loved watching movies, whether that was at his house or alone at a movie theater.

“It helped me balance and it’s been a big part of my life,” he said.

Landrum noticed movies usually involve a single hero fighting against an army headed by a “psychopathic bad guy.” He was always more curious about the people who join the bad guy. That’s what “Goons for Hire,” an idea Landrum has had since he was a kid, is about.

Being a screenwriter also gives Landrum a voice, something he said he wasn’t even trying to find before.

“At the age I’m at now, it’s a really good outlet for me to be heard on issues and things that I feel strongly about,” he said.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

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