Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist – Douglas Fisher

What’s your name? Where were you born? Where do you live? And what’s your hobby?

Douglas Walter Fisher.  I was born in Camden, NJ and I live in Maple Shade, NJ.  My hobby is playing pickleball 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?

I came up with the concept circa 2011 when I watched videos on YouTube of the televised news footage of John Lennon’s death in 1980.  It took eight years to shape and create the screenplay you read during the competition.  The untimely death of my son in 2016 sped up the process because I wanted to dedicate my screenplay to him and make him proud of me.

From concept to finished draft, can you take us through your screenwriting process?

Once I come up with the concept, I try and think of the most emotional extremes which the concept can present and I hone in on those.   I’ve rewritten The Dakota more than five times until I felt it reached the best version it could be.

When did you realize that you wanted to become a screenwriter?

I wrote a young adult novel in my early twenties which was never picked up by a publisher.  I began to read about screenwriting and I was hooked by its purity in storytelling.  I truly began the push to become a screenwriter in my 40’s.

Who are your biggest filmmaking/screenwriting influences? What about their style do you like or borrow?

Woody Allen and Steven Spielberg are the biggest influences.  They both have a diverse range of ideas and an ability to tell these stories in a way which would appeal to mass audiences with style and substance.

Have you ever been obsessed with a movie or TV show? If so, which one? Why?

The Graduate and The Sure Thing, both while I was in my late teens.  Why?  Because both to me represented the ultimate in romantic comedy, which I’m a sucker for.  I watched both with all of my friends, most of which didn’t share my enthusiasm for these movies, but I watched them with a huge grin and undying excitement.

What’s your favorite moment in cinema history? Why?

There is a lot to choose from.  However, I’ll go with an unlikely one.  The ending scene in Die Hard 2 in which John McClane, who was just kicked from the wing of a plane by the villain but managed to open the fuel dump door on the way to the ground.  The bad guys think they will fly away victoriously, but a beaten and bloodied, but not bowed McClane has one more trick up his sleeve.   While lying on the snow-covered ground, he flicks his lighter, utters his famed catchphrase, and tosses the lighter onto the jet fuel trail.   The trail of fire rushes quickly up to the ascending plane and causes the plane to explode in mid-air.  This is probably the most satisfying scene in which the hero snatches victory from the jaws of defeat I’ve ever seen.

Whos your favorite character in cinema history? Why?

Another tough one because so many would qualify, but I’ll say Cliff Booth (played by Brad Pitt) in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.  He was the epitome of cool and unflappable, a guy who could go toe-to-toe with Bruce Lee and take out the would-be Manson gang before they were able to kill Sharon Tate and others.   It is an alternate history ending we wish occurred.

If you could talk to anyone from any era, who would it be and what would you ask them?  

I would talk to my son, Ryan, and ask him if he misses me as much as I miss him.