“Nowadays with the internet and all these other tools I don’t know that it’s entirely necessary to go to film school.”
Screenwriter and USC grad David S. Goyer (Man of Steel)
The Dialogue interview with Mike De Luca
Screenwriter David S. Goyer was born in 1965 in Ann Arbor, Michigan and (I think) attended Michigan State before going to film school at USC. His first produced feature screenplay was Death Warrant in 1990 and since then he’s written more than 15 produced screenplays including Blade, Batman Begins, and Man of Steel. He’s also written three novels, several TV programs, and worked as a consultant on the video game Call of Duty. He has a website and blog at davidsgoyer.com. Last year he was asked if he had any advice on how to prepare for a career in writing/filmmaking:
“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!”
Producer/writer/director David S. Goyer
Questions and Answers
I’m on the tail end of writing three ebooks (beginning, middle, and end) culled from the best of the 1,500 posts on this blog. Goyer is a great example of someone who rose out of the Midwest and made his mark in Hollywood. And while he’s absolutely correct that the top of the pyramid is tiny, the pyramid is much bigger than it used to be. (And actually, there are multiple pyramids now. Can’t play in the NFL or the NBA? That’s okay there are other professional leagues around the world. ) This blog celebrates the various nooks and crannies of the world where screenwriters come from, but it’s also a voice for telling people there is room below the top of the pyramid to work in production and have your stories told—improve your skills—and make a living.
Filmmakers in days of old learned their trade making B-movies, today we have You Tube and webisodes. Go create knowing that everyone who is at that top of the pyramid started out at the bottom of the pyramid—no, they started not even on the pyramid. They just stared at it from afar. When Goyer was a high school student had his eyes set on a career as a homicide investigator. But like that adopted kid from Smallville, Kansas that he wrote about in Man Of Steel they were both destined for Hollywood.
P.S. Speaking of alternative ways of getting your film made, I thought I’d tell you about a Kickstarter project by a reader of this blog. Right now writer/director Jonathan Ade has 241 backers and $27,107 raised but needs to hit $33,000 in the next 59 hours or he gets nothing. (Sounds like a log line right?) The film Lay in Wait has an intriguing log line:
A married woman in an extramarital affair must find her wedding ring in the woods before the sun sets.
Screenwriting from Michigan
How Much Do Screenwriters Make?
How to Get Started Working in Production
Screenwriter’s Work Ethic (Tip #2)
The 99% Focus Rule (Tip #70)
“Don’t try and compete with Hollywood.”—Ed Burns