Sunday, June 24, 2018
Human Interest

Tarpon Springs artist-turned-screenwriter has an Oscar dream

TARPON SPRINGS — Tonight Tarpon Springs' Elizabeth Indianos will be walking the red carpet at the Oscars.

"I'll be wearing something stunning in baby blue and I'll have just the right amount of jewelry on, something from Tiffany's."

Sure, it's only a fantasy, but one she hopes to make real someday.

Indianos, best-known locally as a painter, has taken up screenwriting. Her first script, Libertaire, recently won best screenplay in the historical category at the 2012 Sundance Table Read My Screenplay Contest. It was selected as one of the top 10 scripts overall.

It also ranked in the top 10 percent of more than 7,000 entries for the 2012 Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, a competition sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization that puts on the Academy Awards each year.

Indianos is hoping those accolades will help her attract a good agent who will float her works among Hollywood's big names.

"I've been working on Libertaire for five years now," said Indianos, a painter, writer and adjunct professor at St. Petersburg College's Tarpon Springs campus. "My goal is to have it become a movie."

Over the years, she has written on planes, trains and automobiles. In parking lots, too. Wherever she can scribble research notes, craft a character, restructure a scene, or tighten up some dialogue.

On Oct. 26, 2011, Indianos was consulting on the script with screenwriting guru Robert McKee at his New York City apartment. Their meeting happened to take place during the 125th anniversary celebration of the Statue of Liberty, and much fanfare was going on in the city.

It was then that the thought suddenly occurred to her: "Why me on this day of all days? Has she (Lady Liberty) been waiting 125 years for someone like me to tell her story?"

Libertaire is historical fiction "about one of the greatest gifts that almost didn't happen," she said. The story is driven by events in the lives of French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and newspaper man Joseph Pulitzer, who overcame seemingly impossible odds to bring the 151-foot copper statue to New York Harbor.

Ironically, it was a wisecrack by David Letterman ("It's so cold out there, the Statue of Liberty is holding her torch under her dress.") that piqued her interest in the statue.

Like Bartholdi, the statue's sculptor, Indianos creates public art projects, some big and site-defining. In addition to wall murals in Tarpon Springs, she has created public art for places like Tampa International Airport and the Southern Transportation Plaza in Tampa. She was part of a design team for a new $1 million 13th Street Pedestrian Bridge in Gainesville that looks a bit like a twisted train track — or the molecular structure of DNA.

Indianos said she knows firsthand how frustrating the whole process of public art projects can be: the funding, politics, design controversies, logistics, installation nightmares.

"Whenever I start a big project, I always hear all the reasons it can't happen. All great accomplishments are at first impossible, so you have to be the one that believes that it is possible."

Indianos said she often thinks back to something her immigrant grandfather used to say: "The impossible just takes 15 minutes longer."

That may hold true for future appearances at the Oscars as well.

"To go to the Academy Awards I think is every screenwriter's ultimate dream," she said. "You always have to hold out hope. You have to know that sometimes the impossible does happen."

Terri Bryce Reeves can be reached at [email protected]

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