Evan Kail got into the world of film when he started watching action movies with his dad.
His favorite movie at the age of 11 was Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs,” which contains graphic violence involving criminals and police informants.
“From getting an understanding for deep storylines at a young age, I was drawn to film, and I got a knack for it,” Kail said.
Now a Japanese language senior at the University of Minnesota, Kail has been writing screenplays for the past four years. Recently his work made it into the finals at the Beverly Hills, Sacramento and Los Angeles Film Festivals and has already won an honorable mention at the Los Angeles Movie Awards Screenplay Competition.
“Seiji Four: Part 1,” a screenplay by Kail that was chosen for the Sacramento Film Festival, started as an inside joke with his high school friends.
After Kail’s dad promised him 10 percent of fictional lottery ticket winnings, Kail and his friends fantasized about what they would do with the money. These fantasies morphed into the group rolling through their hometown of Edina, Minn., pretending to be gangsters during the roaring ’20s.
“We called ourselves the ‘Burgalton Burglars,’” Kail said. “They eventually manifested into characters.”
For an Edina High School film class, he wrote a 10-minute script fully encompassing these 1920s gangsters and the havoc they created. The project won best film for the school’s student film festival and is still shown in the class today.
But he was far from done working on his “Burgalton Burglars” idea. He decided to extend the story into a feature-length film.
“It started out as a side project, but the more I started writing it, the more sucked into it I got,” he said. “It got to the point where I wouldn’t go out on the weekends, I would just write it.”
His work turned into a draft of “Seiji Four: Part 1,” the first installment to a trilogy embodying the lives of four burglar characters.
David Kuettel, a friend from high school and one of the original “Burgalton Burglars,” is working to adapt Kail’s screenplay “Outbreak: Prohibition” into a graphic novel.
Kuettel is an illustration major at the Savannah College of Art and Design and works on character design for the hit FX adult cartoon show “Archer.”
“Evan is such an imaginative guy. It’s good to see him getting the recognition that he deserves,” Kuettel said. “I’m excited to be a part of his story and get to put in my own input.”
Another University student, senior Scott Huculak helped Kail rework some of his screenplays including “Outbreak: Prohibition,” which earned honorable mention at the Los Angeles Movie Awards.
Another screenplay, “Lion’s Den,” was also redrafted with Huculak’s help. “We would hide out in the Science Teaching and Student Services building to work on the script,” Kail said. “It was our own little room of requirement filled with character charts and plot charts.”
The University offers limited opportunities for screenwriters in the classroom, so Kail teaches himself.
“I quickly found that most screenplays are written very straightforward and tend to be boring,” Kail said. “I try to write mine more like books and write with the care an author would.”
Even after his recent successes, Kail continues to develop new ideas for his film work.
He has more than 250 ideas in what he calls his “vault,” he said.
“I write down every good idea that I have so I can access it later.”
Ulysses Awsumb, a Twin Cities-based producer and director for film and video content, has started working on pre-production and art design for Kail’s screenplay “Lion’s Den.”
He said Kail is a gifted writer who will succeed in the industry.
“Evan is on his way to making a name for himself,” Awsumb said.
Kail also started Stone Arch Entertainment to expand the film industry in the Twin Cities, predominantly in Minneapolis.
Awsumb said, “It’s with talent like Evan’s that the film industry will change and grow.”