David Goyer Interview - on Blade lll and other things

As we prepared for the launch of Screenwriter's Voice, acclaimed screenwriter David Goyer was getting ready to hit the Vancouver production set of the third film in the popular Blade franchise. A writer best known for penning action films and comic books,
As we prepared for the launch of Screenwriter's Voice, acclaimed screenwriter David Goyer was getting ready to hit the Vancouver production set of the third film in the popular Blade franchise. A writer best known for penning action films and comic books, Goyer's work includes such brooding fan favorites as Dark City, Blade, Blade II and Freddy vs Jason. A man far from ever being pigeonholed but certainly well steeped in comic book tradition and lore, Goyer was gracious enough to tap into his own screenwriter's voice and share thoughts on a wide variety of interesting topics such as his early origins as a writer, his love of comics, the legacy of Blade, today's video game revolution and the possible challenges a writer faces when penning an action/superhero spec. Playing double duty as writer/director of Blade III, Goyer also let slip even more interesting insight on his unique writing style and approach to Batman 5.

But, for all of you aspiring scribes out there, David Goyer also provides a wealth of invaluable tools on how to make it in the competitive world of Hollywood screenwriting. Whether you've just finished your first or fifteenth drafts, this is one screenwriting chat you don't want to miss.

SCREENWRITER'S VOICE: What are the origins of your career and what inspired you to get into writing?

DAVID GOYER: When I was younger I had always written lot of short stories and things like that in Junior High and High School. And I remember in High School making a kind of unique arrangement with my English teachers because I was a little bit accelerated and bored in my classes. So the arrangement was that I didn't necessarily have to do the reading or other work if I would write an original story every week.

So I wrote a lot of short stories in junior high and high school and I ended up winning I don't even remember what it was called some kind of national award they submitted me. And, so I was interested in writing, but to be honest, in high school I had every intention of going off to college - going to Michigan State University and getting a degree in Police Administration and becoming a homicide detective.

SV: Wow.

GOYER: And I was very keenly interested in that. Some of my teachers in High School, senior year, kind of staged an intervention and thought that I needed to go off and do something that involved writing. Bizarrely, given that we were in Michigan and had absolutely no connection to Hollywood or film whatsoever and the fact that I had never even read a screenplay before, bizarrely three or four of these teachers of mine felt I should go into movie making. And it's not that I was specifically a cinefile, or anything like that and I had taken a filmmaking class in High School, I was running around with and 8mm camera like young Steven Spielberg.

They felt I should do that and I remember one of my teachers got an application to USC film school for me and I applied to the undergraduate writing program and I got in, much to my surprise. We didn't really have enough money for me to attend, per se, but we were able to fish together financially for the first semester and it was always a little dicey any given semester or year because I never knew for sure if I would get enough money to be able to keep attending. But, fortunately there was fair amount of pressure for me to keep up my grades to get grants and things like that. But I did and I wrote a lot during school.

This is kind of an interesting anecdote that I don't think I've ever said in an interview before. I was kicked out of my beginning freshman year screenwriting class.

SV: Really?

GOYER: Yeah. And, I... sort of... I didn't get along well with my teacher and I was mortified that here I was, freshman year, and had been kicked out of my first class and that I had to appeal to the Dean of the film school to get back in. And, ultimately the Dean ruled that I should be re-instated and I got back in. And that same teacher kicked me out of a class my Junior year as well! (laughing) I think he had it in for me. And I also got re-instated into that. So that was sort of my minor trial and tribulation.

It was hard when I first graduated because it was 1988 during the writer's strike and not only were there no film related jobs, but there were no jobs, period, because everybody that couldn't get into film were trying to get other jobs and so I was terribly depressed and what not after I graduated but fortunately about 6 - 8 months after I graduated I sold a screenplay and it eventually became a Jean-Claude Van Damme film called Death Warrant. And although I had always intended on writing quirky little comedies - character driven pieces, I had written and action film because I had seen Die Hard and those seemed to be selling. And suddenly I was an action writer in the way that Hollywood likes to pigeonhole everyone. You know, I was fortunate because I was 22 and the first script I sold got made and it didn't get made into a particularly a good film, but I was on the set every day and there wasn't another writer. And so, at a fairly young age I learned a lot about filmmaking because of that. And the director was good. He knew I was very green. The film was not the film I wanted it to be nor was it for the director, but I was lucky in that regard. And I made a lot of crappy movies, until I ended up writing Blade.

Blade was a very kind of transformational script for me. That's the first script that I felt kind of truly started to represent some of the things I was interested in because it was action but it was much more quirky and specific to me. Even though I wrote the script for Blade in '94, it didn't come out until '98. I remember it was after that script that I started getting offered jobs as opposed to having to go out and audition for jobs. I was fortunate enough that Blade got made and Dark City and suddenly I had a bit of a brand name. I was known for a certain kind of thing because action appeals to me, but it needs to be more. I don't do straight action. I do kind of quirkier, darker, weirder kind of stuff.

SV: How difficult do you think it is to get the tone right of the comic and then duplicate it on screen?

GOYER: Well, see, the thing about Blade was... well... let me think about this for a second... Blade we had more latitude because it wasn't a very well known character and in fact hadn't even been in his own comic book. He was a supporting character in the Tomb of Dracula comics. So we didn't have the burden of a canon, or popularly known canon, that we had to adhere to per se. I had a lot more latitude in terms of adapting. But I think the significant point that I made early on wh
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UGO - Screenwriter's Voice