Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter Keith Davidson

An interview with screenwriter Keith Davidson regarding the Austin Writing Competition.

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

A: Death of a Legend.

A retired Texas Ranger is drawn into a conflict between an old friend and the posse of deputies determined to hang him, triggering the 1880 Endeavor Massacre that left twelve lawmen dead and wiped Endeavor off the map.

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

A: Austin has a great reputation. I've had four scripts reach the semifinals, but this was the first time one made it to the finals (it was the judges' second choice, I was told). A company made an offer to buy it shortly after the festival, but the terms weren't very good, so I declined.

I plan to enter it into a couple more contests and see what happens.

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: Austin is a wonderfully run festival. No complaints whatsoever. The year before I made the finals I was selected for their Writers Ranch (with a different script), and that was a really well-run event, and an amazing experience.

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

A: It's hard to know how long it took because it was simmering on a back burner for so long. I don't really keep track of how many drafts I write of any script, but it was quite a few.

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

A: FinalDraft.

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

A: I don't write every day. The number of hours depends on how inspired I am, or what kind of deadline (usually self-imposed) I have.

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

A: Never.

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

A: I have a Film degree, but the best training came from running a repertory movie theater where I watched 5-10 movies a week. There's nothing like an audience reaction to teach you what works in a scene.

I've written three TV specs and a dozen feature scripts. I was lucky enough to have some of my other scripts do well in other contests, including winning a Disney Fellowship, the WB TV Series Writing Competition, the Hollywood Discovery Award, the Carl Sautter Memorial Award, as well as reaching the finals at many others.

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

A: I'll probably move there at some point, but it's easy enough to fly in if I need to.

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

A: I just finished a sci-fi horror called SAPIENS. Here's the log line:

A reclusive nanotechnology expert is blackmailed into performing dangerous augmentations on astronauts, giving them special abilities to survive an upcoming mission to another planet. But when an alien life form arrives on their remote island base, the astronauts become Earth's first line of defense. It's in the vein of Alien and The Thing.

Next, I'm writing a TV spec, plus learning how to turn one of my scripts into a graphic novel.

Posted Friday, October 23, 2009