Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist Questionnaire (David Hutter & Les Zig)

Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist Questionnaire (David Hutter & Les Zig)

(Jordan Bonn)

By Jen B.

David Hutter

What’s your name and where are you from?

My name is David Hutter, and I am from London, UK.

What’s the title of your screenplay?

Those Guys

Also Read: Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist Questionnaire (Jim Norman & Brian Trim)

What’s the logline and how did you come up with the concept for your screenplay?

Logline:

When friendly aliens arrive on Earth, middle-aged Randy and Kimberly are hostile while their hated liberal neighbors happily host one of them. Yet as the aliens start “stealing” people’s jobs, the two families suddenly bond over their shared Earthling heritage just as Randy’s and Kimberly’s teenage daughter falls for one of “Those Guys.”

I came up with the concept when I thought about the fact that racism is always driven by a fear of ‘the other’ and that this plays out on different levels. That is, people worry about who is moving in next door, and citizens of one country are afraid of people from elsewhere, and different cultures clash, etc. So, one day when we discover aliens or they discover us, I imagine there might well be racism towards them in that same way.

Tell us about your history as a screenwriter. Where did your journey begin?

I did a degree in Creative Writing in London and then worked as a copywriter between 2007 and 2018, when my self-published satirical novella Fake News was named as one of the 10 best books on Donald Trump’s presidency by British newspaper The Independent.

I subsequently became a ghostwriter, producing memoirs, novels, self-help books, and, more recently, film and TV scripts for clients from around the world.

In spring 2019, I spent some time in California and managed to get a meeting with a talent manager in L.A. for my ghostwriting work. As a result, I decided to start writing scripts. So far, I have completed only a handful, all of which have done well in competitions in the U.S. and the U.K., garnering a total of 14 awards nominations.

In the summer of 2020, the talent manager in L.A., The Robb Company, signed me for a sitcom I had written. And a few weeks later, I was signed for all my other scripts (including Those Guys) by another talent manager, ONE FOUR FILMS. I am also a member of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain.

What motivates you to be a screenwriter or filmmaker?

To produce great, meaningful art.

What is the biggest challenge you have encountered as a screenwriter and filmmaker?

The biggest challenge so far has been Covid because it has disrupted the whole industry. On a personal level, I think my path has been good so far, getting signed by two talent agents just over a year after I had started writing my first-ever script.

What’s the most important thing you want audiences to take away when watching your films or reading your screenplays.

The feeling that my scripts say something about the human condition and/or society.

Ideally, where do you see yourself in 5 years?

As an established screenwriter, ideally living in the U.S. by then.

What’s your favorite film of all time? If you can’t single out a film, give us your top 3.

My two favorite films of all time are Sideways and Sunset Boulevard.

What’s your earliest favorite childhood movie?

I can’t remember.

Who’s your favorite cinema hero?

Alexander Payne

Who’s your personal hero?

Jerry Garcia

Les Zig

What’s your name and where are you from?

Les Zig. From Melbourne, Australia.

What’s the title of your screenplay?

“Producers” (aka “Above the Line”).

What’s the logline and how did you come up with the concept for your screenplay?

A producer with a shady past as a tax lawyer tries to raise money for her first feature but must contend with her old ties to the Mob, who demand repayment of money she was meant to launder.

The first draft was written in the early 2000s. I had hooked up with a few people who weren’t having much luck in the industry, and we’d decided to try do something low budget. We didn’t get far, but those initial struggles inspired the idea of a small team of people trying to raise money for a feature.

Over the years, I’ve periodically revisited the script and revised it and revised it. I think the only thing that’s remained the same are the digital pages.

Tell us about your history as a screenwriter. Where did your journey begin?

I have to go all the way back to the early 1980s, when I first read The Lord of the Rings. That inspired me to want to tell stories – initially in prose. I had all these ideas shooting around my head that I wanted to share with everybody.

In my twenties, I took several drama classes, and by virtue of that segued into screenwriting. 

I tend to see stories cinematically in my head, so it seemed a natural evolution to write to that structure.

What motivates you to be a screenwriter or filmmaker?

I love stories. All I’ve ever wanted to do is tell stories. If nobody ever reads/sees them, I’d be disappointed, but I’d still write to tell those stories.

What is the biggest challenge you have encountered as a screenwriter and filmmaker?

Writing in itself is an ongoing challenge to find the right word to fill the right sentence to construct the right paragraph – all the way up to finishing the story.

That brings up a lot of self-doubt and insecurity.

As I’ve grown older, that self-doubt and insecurity has grown. I’ve learned so much over the years. And I’m always learning.

However, in learning, you also learn about all the things that could be wrong.

What’s the most important thing you want audiences to take away when watching your films or reading your screenplays?

That for however long they’re with me, they forget the real world, and take an adventure with me.

There are lots of great things that storytelling can impart – themes, lessons, ennoblement, etc.

But, foremost, I want to create a world the audience can slip into and be a part of.

The best stories are the ones you regret having to leave.

Ideally, where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Writing and making films for a living.

What’s your favorite film of all time? If you can’t single out a film, give us your top 3.

Jaws. Aliens. The Shawshank Redemption.

I love stories where the characters take you on a journey. You might not be experiencing their specific circumstances, but you relate to their struggles. They end the story in a different place to which they began it.

What’s your earliest favorite childhood movie?

Before streamers, cable, and even video recorders, there was only free-to-air television.

Three movies were repeated annually: The Great Race, The Wizard of Oz, and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. I never missed them.

I’d perch myself in front of the television and wait to be taken on an adventure.

All three are magical – especially to a child who believes that extraordinary things can happen.

Now I think I keep chasing the recreation of that magic.

Who’s your favorite cinema hero?

Ellen Ripley from Aliens. She’s terrified initially. She doesn’t want to go back into the nightmare she’s escaped, and which has dislocated her entire life.

But, ultimately, despite her terror, she goes because it’s the right thing to do.

When things go awry, she finds the courage to take the initiative when seemingly better qualified people fail. She earns the respect of her companions. They defer to her because she’s proven herself to them.

The whole time she’s scared. She’s not super-powered. She picks up skills, but she’s just an ordinary person in extraordinary circumstances. She doesn’t conquer her fear. She navigates it.

It’s such a brilliant example for everyday life – we might not be facing aliens or a hostile environment, but we can empathize with finding the courage to deal with our circumstances and responsibilities, and go above and beyond in hope of getting somewhere better.

That’s what great stories do – we find ourselves in them.

Who’s your personal hero?

My sister in-law Christine, who fought cancer with unfailing courage and grace.

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