Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist Questionnaire (Phil E. Eichinger)
What’s your name? Where were you born? Where do you live? And what’s your hobby?
Phil E. Eichinger. Staten Island, NY. Rahway, NJ. Hockey, Tennis, all forms of working out, Music: Guitar, Piano, Drums, Drinking Wine… it goes on!
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 am a professional actor and I portrayed “CULPEPPER” on the FOX TV show GOTHAM. With that said, my writing partner, Joshua Z. Weiss and I had a brilliant idea to write a GOTHAM spinoff based on my character. It was a smooth five month writing process for the Pilot.
Our story is a clever and complex weave of canonized DC events, with subtle and meaningful easter eggs. We are strictly loyal to the GOTHAM series, streamlining elements from the comics and the entire DC universe that will satisfy even the most uncompromising DC loyalists.
Chronicled through the eyes of former Detective Charles Culpepper of the Gotham City Police Department, Culpepper, a Gotham spinoff, is a reimagined and dangerous origin story revealing the birth of one of the most popular super villains of all time, Darkseid.
From concept to finished draft, can you take us through your screenwriting process?
Again, it honestly was an extremely easy process for us. We worked daily/weekly going back and forth with phone calls to chat about ideas and/or edits. When you have the character, the story and you know what you want to do, it comes together. We are a solid pairing.
Culpepper is a three-season series spinoff of Gotham, which takes place between episodes 99 and 100 of Gotham. Our story tells the reimagined birth of Darkseid and The Consortium’s attempts to kill Superman. It is a dark, highfalutin drama ala’ Billions and Succession, centered around former Detective Culpepper, a character in Gotham Ep. 406, titled “A Dark Knight: Hog Day Afternoon.” In our story, our protagonist Detective Culpepper is “Charles Culpepper” from Action Comics Weekly who becomes a member of The Consortium, a group who believe they must destroy Superman to save the world.
When did you realize that you wanted to become a screenwriter?
I am an actor first, but I have been writing for about twenty years. It is not something I “realized,” it is something I do because I can. Writing is easy and accessible for me. I am very good and I always have great ideas and stories to offer.
Who are your biggest filmmaking/screenwriting influences? What about their style do you like or borrow?
Here we go… Ethan Hawke. He dips his foot into everything from children’s books, novels, theatre, film, tv, music, it is endless… and I pretty much have done everything he has, just at a lower level of success. I am an all-around artist and creator. I am always interested in new artistic paths to express what I have to share.
Have you ever been obsessed with a movie or TV show? If so, which one? Why?
My first few obsessions were as a teenager, go figure The first would be “Beverly Hills 90210,” because it was relatable and I was in the same grade as the characters were in High School. Then there was the film “Reality Bites.” It was the beginning of admiring the work of Ethan Hawke. I saw that movie in the theater four times, with four different people, haha. It still holds the record and will hold the record. I don’t even think I have seen any other movie twice in a theatre, haha.
What’s your favorite moment in cinema history? Why?
Saving Private Ryan… simply the best film in history and unfortunately the best film to not win an Oscar.
Who’s your favorite character in cinema history? Why?
The word favorite haunts me most of the times, because I loathe picking something. Let me enjoy what I want and how many, haha. So, to give you something to indulge in… here we go again… maybe JESSE from the “BEFORE SUNRISE” series. Mainly because at the time of its first release, I was in college and at that age and it was very, very relatable. I truly enjoyed the character and what he was going through. I connected to what he was doing and experiencing, multiple times.
If you could talk to anyone from any era, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Ethan Hawke… “let’s collaborate on a project.”
(I have met him a bunch of times and almost worked with him on a series.)