Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist David Zuckerman
Chicago Screenplay Awards Questionnaire
By Chicago Screenplay Awards Dept.
What’s your name? Where were you born? Where do you live? And what’s your hobby?
My name is David Zuckerman, and I was born in Texas City, Texas. I was raised in Fairbanks, Alaska (Because that’s close, right?) and my hobbies include drawing, painting, and writing.
Where did you come up with the concept that just placed as Finalist in the screenplay contest? How long did it take you to develop it into the screenplay it is now?
Being Native American, I had always heard of the many myths and legends growing up; with the one that stuck the most in my head being the legend of the Wendigo. I always wanted to write a story about the Wendigo, but in a way that was easily accessible to all audiences. It took me a few months to develop it, specifically the arch and internal battle the main character faces.
From concept to finished draft, can you take us through your screenwriting process?
Much of my process starts big and goes small. I started with wanting to write a horror piece within nature. This lead me to the concept of the Wendigo. From there, I pondered on what allegorical tale I could tell with this creature, as that sort of substance makes memorable horror films. From there, I build the character and their flaws, based around the theme of the script. Once I have the main character and main conflict figured out, it all comes together rather quickly after that.
When did you realize that you wanted to become a screenwriter?
I realized fairly quickly that screenwriting was a passion of mine. I have quite a unique look as an actor, and not wanting to get type cast in my roles, I started writing scripts for myself to act in. Overtime, my skill got better and better, and I really started finding a home in screenwriting. I’ve always been a storyteller, whether it was drawing, painting, or even acting. Screenwriting is just the next step in my storytelling evolution.
Who are your biggest filmmaking/screenwriting influences? What about their style do you like or borrow?
Ari Aster has become a big influence on my horror writing. I’ve quickly fallen in love with his ability to connect deep & disturbing horror with themes and vehicles that we can all relate to.
Have you ever been obsessed with a movie or TV show? If so, which one? Why?
Yes… Many! The Leftovers was a show I couldn’t stop talking about for quite a while, and it’s on top of my recommend list. It’s a show that so perfectly encapsulates much of my observations of the world, as well as taps into pure humanity with such ease.
What’s your favorite moment in cinema history? Why?
As a moviegoer of today, the release of Sam Raimi’s Spiderman is my favorite moment in cinema, so far. With it’s release, it sparked a new wave of superhero content, much to my joy, as well as the evolution of the genre into the content we have today.
Who’s your favorite character in cinema history? Why?
I’m not sure if I can pin point down a favorite character. But many of the ones that stuck out to me are Anton Chigur, from No Country for Old Men; Hans Landa, from Inglorious Basterds; Tyler Durden, from Fight Club; Hannibal Lecter, from Silence of the Lambs; Maximus, from Gladiator; and V, from V for Vendetta.
If you could talk to anyone from any era, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Good Question. I can’t say that I have anyone on that list.