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
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.
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
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
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.
Magazine: Name the actor you would love to work with and why?
Douglas Stark: Paul Newman or Robert Redford. Can you just
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.