I’ve been winging back and forth between Los Angeles and the UK, working on Da Vinci’s Demons and a few other simmering projects. We’re about halfway through filming Season 1 and it’s been going well. Our first trailer is in the works and we hope to be making some Con appearances soon. In the meantime, some questions have been filtering into the site and I thought I’d take a stab at answering some. (I’ll try to get to these from time to time.)
Zachary Reger writes…As an incoming Senior in High School, do you have any advice on how to prepare myself for a career in writing/film making?
Jordan Gustafson had a similar question….
DSG: Well, guys, there’s no one tried and true path into film. There are a number of good film schools — USC, UCLA, NYU, Columbia, Pasadena’s Art Center (Zack Snyder went there, among others). But film school isn’t a requirement. There are tons of good books about writing and film. Screenwriting programs like Final Draft. And a host of screenplays available for download on the web. Digital film-making is relatively cheap. In the end, there’s no substitute for doing the work. Just know that the top of the pyramid is tiny. Depressingly, only a small percentage of WGA members actually make a good living as screen or television writers. And that number is dwindling. So if you want to pursue this career, make sure you’ve got the fortitude for it!
Christian Wick writes… Should I try to adapt screenplays and stories or do I really need to create something original first?
DSG: As a beginner, I would counsel you to write original material. If you do want to adapt an existing work, make sure that it’s public domain. If someone else owns the work — whether it be a book, an article, a comic book, or someone’s life-story — then you are potentially exposing yourself to a lot of heartbreak. Unless you have the rights to adapt a pre-existing work, you legally have no right to do it. So even if someone likes your script and wants to buy it — you don’t have the rights to sell it. Sometimes, people write an adaptation and then contact the rights holder — and occasionally — the rights holder likes what he or she sees and agrees to an arrangement. But that is a rarity. Sometimes, a rights holder will option you their property for a very small fee — but that is unusual. It’s a pain, but if you are going to attempt this, you need to contact a lawyer!
Corey Mayne writes — I was wondering what a good it does to win awards? Because to me, they’re kind of meaningless. Is there a recommended forum that I could join where I can post samples and get my stuff out there?
DSG: Awards can help get you noticed. Sometimes, they can even help get you an agent. Sure, monetary compensation can be more meaningful — especially if you are trying to quit your day-job. But if you can’t quit, then submitting your work to various contests and festivals is a good initial route. Grzegorz Jonkajtys, director of 2007’s animated short ARK eventually got a feature-directing job on the strength of his award-winning short. It does happen.
Someone else had some questions about my comic adaptations and the upcoming Man of Steel. Can’t talk much about that, but…
DSG: Well, yeah. You do. I read hundreds and hundreds of Batman and Superman comics before diving in — and I was already pretty familiar with the material.
DSG: Lots. I’d estimate 3 or 4 pretty comprehensive drafts and maybe another 10 polish revisions. This was over the course of 2 or 3 years for each film.
DSG: With the exception of David Nutter’s pilot and the episodes written by Geoff Johns, I’ve never watched Smallville.
DSG: Depends on the project. In the case of Man of Steel, I am still involved. I was on the set quite a bit, doing rewrites and various things.
DSG: The script is entirely mine. Chris Nolan and I collaborated on the story.
Pedro(Peter) from Spain writes: Two big questions about batman: I think that ras al guhl not die in batman begins and you and nolan decied first keep with live but you change of opinion in the last movie TDKR that is true beacuse the public not know his existence for the recepcion of first movie (that in my opinion is too important and the best part of trilogy when bruce become batman)?
DSG: What do you think? Did Ra’s survive or not? I think the point is that it was fairly ambiguous. Personally, I prefer to leave that up to the viewer.
Claire in Wales writes…A great fan of your work, especially the darker elements, I am thrilled you are here and pleased you’ve set up this website and blog. I get to hear snipits of progress regarding Da Vinci’s Demons from my husband…
DSG: Thanks, Claire, but I’m stopping you there because I want to respect your husband’s privacy. Wales has been fantastic and welcoming (albeit very, very wet — the crew and I got absolutely drenched on Friday outside Margam castle). I’ve grow accustomed to storing rain gear in my car. I wear Hunters and Chameaus (rain boots) most of the days. Every week or so, we give out a Lucky Cat to a deserving cast or crew member (basically our version of an MVP). Hoping the series continues because I love our crew and want to keep going!
That’s it for tonight. Back to the salt mines…