- What is the first story you ever wrote?
I have always been very interested in writing since I was in elementary school. The very first proper story I wrote, I think I was around fifteen, wa actually a short treatment for a martial arts action movie and told the story of a young martial arts fanatic whose father disappears in Hong Kong, so he travels there and all hell breaks loose and all the biggest Hong Kong action stars show up and help the young guy find his father. A sort of martial arts version of “The Expendables”.
- Growing up, what movies or stories inspired your creative passion?
I love adventure and thrills, so the craziest were the movies I was watching the more excited I became about writing my own fiction and stories. Movies like “The Goonies” and “Indiana Jones” were my favourite, then my own country Spaghetti westerns, Sergio Leone, all his films, and the films of Bud Spencer and Terence Hill, which always had simple but very effective and heart warming stories mixed with comedy. In regard to the horror genre I have always been a big fan of Stephen King. Salem’s Lot, Christine, Pet Sematary. I love his writing and I am actually in the process of writing my debut horror novel with the hope that one day Stephen may read it and let me know his opinion. And in regards to horror films, I love the madness of Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson. In Escalation you can breathe a little bit of both even if I don’t like to copy nor homage, but still, you can feel they have been like my secret mentors.
- For an unknown writer, what is the best way to get their screenplay seen?
I did write and direct Escalation, so for me it’s hard to think about a film only from the writing side of the work. I guess the best way is to write something simple and find a director that can shoot a short based on it. This way you can have a clear proof of concept to show around and show also how your writing translates to the screen.
- What experiences from your life influence your characters?
Well, I have dealt with a lot of bad people, arrogant and selfish people that believe they know everything for some reason unknown to us common mortals. So thinking about the way these kinds of people talk,walk and dress, it was easy to create the toxic lead of Escalation. The conversation he is having on the phone, being absolutely cold and rude to his friend is something that happened more than once to me.
- Can you explain your character development process?
Character development for me it’s vital. In Escalation, even if the story is very simple at the end of the day, the character of Chris, the main lead, in this case doesn’t “evolve” but confirms itself, which is also a sort of development. At the end of the story, Chris shows to the world that he knows he is a bad person, he is toxic and selfish, but still he is honest to himself, and he is ot a hypocrite. So he accepts his fate knowing he is a villain at the end of the day. So for me what matters the most is making characters real and relatable. They need to talk as a person would talk in real life, move as they would move in real life, be genuine. Then you add a bot of flavour to the mix to make them stand out more, something subtle that the audience will remember so the character is not boring and then I imagine why this character is like that, and how he lives his life. Does he feel he needs to change? Or is he happy with how things are. This way naturally the character grows because I am dealing with him as a real person, another version of myself even.
- Do you write bios before you start writing?
No, characters are born on the paper. I never plan how they ust be. I just imagine how they would behave and be in real life, and then I let them grow on paper. I know that in the end they may be totally different from what I had envisioned and that’s fine. It means the characters truly came alive during the writing process.
- How emotionally involved are you with the characters you create?
Very involved. I write my characters with the idea that I will be the one playing the main one and so I will be the one interacting with the other characters. So for me it’s like living for a while in another person’s life. And I want to enjoy that, so all the characters matter a lot for me because good characters are what can make my acting experience truly feel real.
- What are your thoughts on structure?
I don’t really follow structure. I just let my imagination run free and write. But there are rules to be respected. A writer needs to know when the audience could get bored or when it’s time for a twist and such. So I write freely and let my writing flow out of my hand but every certain number of pages I stop and read what I have just written thinking from an audience perspective. And in that moment I am the audience and I have very high standards in the way I Want to be entertained so I can be very hard on myself, but this approach helps me see the flaws in my writing right away.
- Do you outline before you start writing?
No, I just think about the story in a very general way, sit down and start writing.
- What is the most important aspect of building a great character?
Make it unique. Choose some traits that will make people remember the character. It can be anything, the way he talks, the way he gestures with his hands, some tricks he does while holding a pen or a glass. Anything that you know will stick with the audience. It’s easy to make a boring character. A character which is too realistic is boring. Cinema is made of extremes, even if a character is supposed to be a real life person, it must always have that plus detail, that eccentric feature that will make the audience have a strong feeling towards the role.