2007 FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards - Interview - Doug Karr

Filmmakers International Screenwriting Awards

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Doug Karr
Grand Prize Winner
Doug Karr
New York, NY

Doug Karr has worked in the industry since 1997 creating original independent films. Karrıs latest film "Anniversary Present" stars David Alpay (Ararat) and Liane Balaban (New Waterford Girl). Karrıs 2003 mental health caper "The Straitjacket Lottery" screened at over 25 festivals and won multiple awards. Karrıs other credits include award winning documentaries "LSD25," "The June Bug Symphony," as well as the hour long "Lifecycles: a story of AIDS in Malawi". His films have been seen by audiences around the world and on numerous television channels.


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

when I was 9 years old, sitting in a movie theatre on the Champs-Élysées, watching Lawrence of Arabia.

I know I've succeeded........ 

when one of my feature screenplays gets financed and theatrically distributed.

My inspiration to write MY THERMONUCLEAR FAMILY.......

was when I spent some time hanging out with a corrections officer in Upstate New York. I sat up in bed one morning when I was up there and wrote out a relatively in-depth outline of the screenplay in a few hours.




FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Doug Karr: Iım inspired to write when I can find some mental space. Experiencing
extreme emotion (suffering, love, pain, a psychotic break). A beautiful photograph.
Iım inspired by my dreams: waking up suddenly, struck by an idea... Then
often years later Iım still exploring it.

FilmMakers Magazine: What did you do to prepare yourself to write your first script?

Doug Karr: I read dozens of books about the first gulf war and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Spent time hanging out with US Marines, Veterans and folks in a
mental health center. Then I started writing... and got very lost.

FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script and how long did it take you to complete?

Doug Karr: This is my third script. Itıs taken me 4 and a half years to get it to this point.

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

Doug Karr:
I try to wake up between 8-9 am and write between four and six hours a day. I used to write at home, but now I write in my office in the Lower East Side.
Music blaring in my ears. Sometimes the same album for months at a time.

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

Doug Karr: Yes, because theyıre a forum for the work to get out there and thatıs the most difficult part of getting a film made.

FilmMakers Magazine: What influenced you to enter the FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards?

Doug Karr: Randomness, frankly. A Google search.

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

Doug Karr: "Down by Law" by Jim Jarmusch. Why? Three guys screaming for ice cream in a Louisiana jail cell.

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

Doug Karr: Iım a writer and director. Having made short films, documentaries and
television projects for over a decade, Iım equally passionate about working with actors as I am developing a visual language with my Director of Photography.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Doug Karr: Paul Schrader. Because when I met him, he couldnıt stop talking about his gun collection. And you canıt fuck with Taxi Driver.

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

Doug Karr:
A toss up between Spike Lee and Sidney Lumet. I find them to be two of the most exciting directors working in today. And because between their careers, theyıve directed a combination of almost a hundred feature films and every single one of those films is worth watching... and the rest are masterpieces.

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

Doug Karr:
Woody Harrelson because he's an amazing presence on screen.

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

Doug Karr: I thought my first screenplay was solid and it held me back from starting another, because I kept trying to fine-tune it and work away at it to make
it better... But then finally I let myself start a new screenplay and after 6 weeks I felt much better about the new one that I ever could have about the first. So I guess if I have any advice, itıs that if something seems precious... Move on. Try something new. Then see how precious the first project is in retrospect.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Doug Karr: Iım off to Toronto in a week with my filmmaking partner, Eddie Boyce, to make an ambitious new short film currently titled ³Ten For Grandpa² that my production company Chop Wood Carry Water is producing on a shoestring
budget. Weıre shooting on super 35 and building 9 sets on a soundstage, so hopefully weıll pull it off.

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

Doug Karr: Alternating my time between sitting in front of a computer every morning working on a screenplay, and running myself ragged on feature film sets.

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