Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter Keith Davidson

An interview with screenwriter Keith Davidson regarding the Disney/ABC Writing Competition.

Q: What's the title of the script you entered in this contest, and what's it about?

A: It's called My Husband The Dick (formerly The Gentleman Detective).

When a detective's wife starts writing a novel about his last case, the ensuing battle for creative control between the detective, his wife and her editor threatens to destroy the marriage.

Realizing her husband missed a key clue, she returns with him to the scene of the crime, determined to re-solve the case, save their marriage and meet her editor's deadline.

It's a mystery-comedy presented in three different genres -- film noir, Hollywood glamour, and pulp -- depending on who has control of the typewriter.

Q: What made you enter this particular contest? Have you entered any other contests with this script? If so, how did you do?

A: The Disney Fellowship offered a year working at their LA studio. How could I NOT enter?

It also won the Scriptwriters Network (Carl Sautter Memorial) Scriptwriting Competition and (as a series proposal) the Warner Bros./Lorimar Television Series Writing Competition, as well as finishing 2nd at AFI, 4th at WorldFest Houston, made the top 20 in the Nicholl Fellowship, and was a finalist in America's Best, Big Bear, Atlanta Film Festival, and more.

It's nice to feel validated, but it hasn't sold yet.

Q: Were you satisfied with the administration of the contest? Did they meet their deadlines? Did you receive all the awards that were promised?

A: The people at Disney were wonderful. I have nothing but praise for the way they handled their contest.

Q: How long did it take you to write the script? Did you write an outline beforehand? How many drafts did you write?

A: I can't remember how long it took to write. It was so much fun to write that it didn't seem like a long time, but I imagine it was many, many months. I lost track of how many drafts I wrote. I always write outlines before diving into a script.

Q: What kind of software did you use to write the script, if any? What other kinds of writing software do you use?

A: I used FinalDraft, though I'm not thrilled with the software.

Q: Do you write every day? How many hours per day?

A: I'm just too lazy to write every day. But when I'm in the middle of a script I'm enthused about, I'll often put in 5-9 hours a day.

Q: Do you ever get writer's block? If so, how do you deal with that?

A: Never had writer's block. If I'm temporarily stuck on a scene, I'll jump to another scene... or do some research... work on another script... or watch a movie... then get back to it later.

Q: What's your background? Have you written any other screenplays or television scripts?

A: I have a film degree, which is worthless. I also ran a repertory movie theatre, which was priceless. To see five to ten films a week with a live audience was a wonderful learning experience. There's nothing like observing an audience reaction to see how well a scene works (or doesn't).

I've now written a dozen feature scripts and three spec TV scripts. I've had a couple of sales, but nothing has been made yet. That's one reason I made two short films -- to see my work on screen. My first short film, "Charlie Noir", won some awards on the festival circuit, and is available to view on my website:

Q: Do you live in Los Angeles? If not, do you have any plans to move there?

A: I lived in LA for a year during the Disney Fellowship, but had to return to Canada when it expired. I'm absolutely ready to move.

Q: What's next? Are you working on a new script?

A: My agent, David Warden, is now showing people my latest script, SAPIENS. It's about a reclusive nanotechnology expert blackmailed into performing dangerous augmentations on astronauts, giving them special abilities to survive an upcoming mission to Mars. But when an alien life form arrives on their remote island base, the astronauts become the first line of defense for the human species. It's in the vein of Alien and The Thing.

I'm also writing a TV spec pilot, and am learning how to change one of my scripts into a graphic novel. I've got another feature spec that needs one more draft before it's ready to show.

Posted Friday, October 23, 2009