Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist Richard Levine
Chicago Screenplay Awards Questionnaire
By Chicago Screenplay Awards Dept.
1. What’s your name? Where were you born? Where do you live? And what’s your hobby?
Richard Levine. Born in Brooklyn, NY. Currently living in Knightdale, NC. Hobbies include cycling, swimming. I am also a professional photographer.
2. 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?
The idea came from seeing a building that was covered in ivy and I thought to myself, “Nature always wins”. A few weeks later I started working on a script based around that thought. It took a few weeks to write the initial draft. I worked on the script, on and off for several months, until I believed I had a solid story. After showing the script to several people who read my work, I listened to a few suggestions and worked them into the script.
3. From concept to finished draft, can you take us through your screenwriting process?
Once I have an idea for a story, I don’t do anything with it for two weeks. If it is still floating around my head after that period I will write down the basic idea and start outlining it in my head. I rarely write anything down at this point. When I feel I have enough scenes that work well together, I sit down and start writing.
4. When did you realize that you wanted to become a screenwriter?
I was in my mid-twenties when I had an idea for a story and thought it might be interesting to write it as a screenplay. I read a couple of books on screenwriting and format (we didn’t have software for that type of thing then). When I completed the first draft many months later I realized how enjoyable the process was and I realized this is what I want to do, regardless of whether or not I become successful with it. I love writing whether as a profession or a hobby.
5. Who are your biggest filmmaking/screenwriting influences? What about their style do you like or borrow?
There is no one influence for me. I do prefer European films over most others. I find them less glued to standard film practices you find in the U.S., where everything has to be tied up in a pretty bow by the end. Although my biggest influence was the screenplay and film for “Breaking Away”, written by Steve Tesich. It’s near perfect.
Every character gets to have their moment to explain who they are. The characters are real and relatable. I always think about that script when I’m working on my characters.
6. Have you ever been obsessed with a movie or TV show? If so, which one? Why?
“Breaking Away” is a film I have watched too many times to count. For enjoyment and education. There is a lot to be mined from it. Also, “Cinema Paradiso” is a film I watch at least once every year. It is a wonderful story and it has an honesty I appreciate.
7. What’s your favorite moment in cinema history? Why?
Too many to mention. Maybe the last scene in “Cinema Paradiso” where the lead character is given this gift from his past. Honestly, I cry every time.
8. Who’s your favorite character in cinema history? Why?
I’m not sure about this one. Maybe Charlie Chaplin’s character in “The Kid”.
9. If you could talk to anyone from any era, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I would talk to the people who keep funding Michael Bay’s movies and ask them “Why?”