FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards 2005 - Interview

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FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards

| 2006 Contest | Interviews Loglines/synopsis/scripts  Winners |

Douglas Stark Douglas Stark
of Van Nuys, CA

Screenplay
THE TICKING MAN
Supernatural Drama

Carl Cramer
of Van Nuys, CA

Seventh Place Winners

Biography: (Douglas Stark)

Most recently a writer for Universal/Wolf Film's “Law & Order," Douglas won the TalentScout Television Writing Grand Prize with his original pilot script "Living Hell" (with Alan Byers). A short film he wrote and directed, "Do Not Disturb," was an official selection of the upcoming Los Angeles International Short Film Festival as well as the Playhouse West Film Festival. The short also won the Grand Prize in the American Accolades shorts contest, as well as the top award from the Emerald Eye Film Festival. He is also currently writing and developing the "Law & Order: SVU" interactive game for Legacy Interactive, a follow-up to his writing/developing work on the original award-winning "Law & Order" interactive game. In 2004, Douglas served as a project mentor for the Science Channel's "Dinosaur Highway" through the Enhanced Television Workshop at the American Film Insititute.

In addition to his writing credits for "Law & Order" (which includes penning the highest rated premiere in the history of the 15 year old show), Douglas has written for Paramount/CBS’s “JAG” and Columbia Tri-Star/CBS’s “Falcone.” An original screenplay, “Under the Lights,” was selected for the Independent Feature Project’s Screenwriting Workshop in 2001. Douglas was also selected for the inaugural Warner Bros. One-Hour Dramatic Writing Workshop, which included a studio contract for a year. And further, Douglas was selected for the American Film Institute’s Summer Feature Writing Workshop, as well as the Sloan One-Hour Dramatic Writing Workshop.

Interview

I knew I wanted to be a screenwriter........

I saw "Paths of Glory" as a kid on television. I was into war movies as a kid -- Great Escape, Bridge on the River Kwai -- but saw for the first time how a tried and true genre could be twisted into something deeper, something more powerful. Paths of Glory alerted me to the idea that there was an art form lurking in movies.

I know I've succeeded........ 

whenever I finish ANY script. Even the ones that might not be so great. Finishing is now the biggest hurdle I face, because I can't acheive any of my goals, personally or professionally, unless I finish. It's what separates the amateurs from the professionals.

My inspiration to write THE TICKING MAN.......

the simple and seductive idea of what it might REALLY feel like for someone languishing in Purgatory to come back to Earth, not with the lofty ambitions of helping mankind or saving lives, but the exhilarating vitality the simple pleasures of breathing, eating, touching, sex, etc. would seem to one so long out of touch. How deep those elemental feelings would run, especially when confronted with the difficulty of relationships surrounding whomever's body you assumed as a host.

 

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FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Douglas Stark: Beat writers, Sam Shepard, David Mamet, Spielberg, Lucas, Camus, a host of personal friends and colleagues who are writers, actors, etc. It's quite a lengthy list.

FilmMakers Magazine: What did you do to prepare yourself to write your first script and how long did it take to complete?

Douglas Stark: Extensive research (probably too much) and a long butcher-paper style sheet with an extensive story outline from beginning to end. I now trust myself more to get the script level, so the research and story outline has shortened considerably to the level of "what EXACTLY do I really need to tell the story?"

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you have a set routine, place and time management for writing?

Douglas Stark: I have two small kids. Every day feels like a fight to maintain a routine, but I generally get out of the house in morning after the kids are fed and work without disruption in a local coffeehouse (If I'm at home, there's too much tempting distractions).

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests are important for aspiring screenwriters and why?

Douglas Stark: The short answer is yes, but the caveat is that contests, like producers, are entirely subjective and many great screenplays can languish because one reader at a contest just didn't cotton to the story. It's better to get your input/feedback from honest friends and professionals that you know. It's nice to feel validated by winning a contest, but if the people whose opinion you respect give you thumbs up, then you should feel confident to step out with a script.

FilmMakers Magazine: What influenced you to enter the FilmMakers.com / The Radmin Company Screenwriting Competition?

Douglas Stark: I've entered the American Gem shorts competition previously. I also like that there's more than just prize money in this contest. Also, the rating on Moviebytes ranked this contest very highly.

FilmMakers Magazine: What script would you urge aspiring writers to read and why?

Douglas Stark: Body Heat. Tells a simple story with great characters and wonderful language. Truly a great script. 

FilmMakers Magazine: Beside screenwriting what are you passionate about and why?

Douglas Stark: Spend lots of time with my kids and I find I'm getting back in touch with my childlike inspiration that led me to write, create, etc.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Douglas Stark: Really like Kasdan (lots of variety), Charlie Kaufman, Jim Schamus -- I like writers who aren't just taking jobs, but creating a body of identifiable work.

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the director you would love to work with and why?

Douglas Stark: Scorsese. I can't imagine anyone smarter or more enthusiastic. Also, Ang Lee, who is creating the most widely varied body of work of anybody right now.

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the actor you would love to work with and why?

Douglas Stark: Paul Newman or Robert Redford. Can you just imagine?

FilmMakers Magazine: Any tips and things learned along the way to pass on to others?

Douglas Stark: Just that you have to have something to get others interested in you. And don't play the guessing game of what you think will be the next hot thing. Write what interests YOU.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Douglas Stark: A thriller that puts a spotlight on the hideous torture tactics we're using against people.

FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from now?

Douglas Stark: Hopefully writing greenlit pictures as well as directing a few of them.

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