Today, I interview Dale Zawada, writer of the award-winning film, A Big Love Story. We take a few moments to find out how the idea came about to write the film, how Dale attacks the script from start to finish, and the rather interesting way it all came to be.
Ryan Sprague (RS)
Dale Zawada (DZ)
RS: Where are you from?
DZ: Orland Hills, Illinois
RS: What did you study in college?
DZ: I have an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice.
RS: How long have you been writing for film?
DZ: I've been writing scripts on spec for about seven years now.
RS: How many films have been made from your scripts?
DZ: I have one produced feature comedy called A Big Love Story. The film took in several festival awards and received positive reviews from Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.
RS: Tell us a little about A Big Love Story.
DZ: The film is about an out of shape young man who falls in love with his personal trainer while trying to lose weight as part of a weight loss contest among his best friends.
(Scene from A Big Love Story)
RS: Where did the idea for the film come from?
DZ: It started with the idea of a weight loss competition comedy, with friends sabotaging one another and other fun shenanigans. It ended up being a story about much more than that, though.
RS: What is your process in writing a screenplay?
DZ: I spend 2-3 months "pre-writing" which involves notes, outlining, character bios, and preparing the story. After that I'll spend 1-2 months actually writing it in Final Draft.
RS: Is there any method/technique/or manual you like to follow when writing?
DZ: Not really. I like to outline and have a strong structure, but I don't follow any specific formula. As long as the story makes sense, moves forward, and entertains, I'm happy. I know "when" things are supposed to happen and keep that in mind but I don't handcuff myself in that regard.
RS: Usually the writer seeks out a production company or director to submit their work to. Your story for A Big Love Story was a little different. Care to explain the "Craigslist Story"?
DZ: I always check forums, message boards, and even Craigslist for screenwriting leads. 99.9% of them are bogus of course. I saw one listing from a director who was looking for a script to turn into his first feature film. After a couple e-mails, I learned his name was Ryan Sage, and he did a lot of work for Modern Family and other ABC shows. Sometimes you can get "lucky" on Craigslist and sometimes you get lucky on Craigslist. Ryan Sage liked the story and the characters, and the rest is history!
(Director, Ryan Sage, doing his thing)
RS: Who is your favorite film-maker?
DZ: John Carpenter. He's a great storyteller and amazing director who I feel is taken for granted a bit.
RS: What would you consider your Top 3 favorite movies?
DZ: This changes all the time but...
1. The Burbs
3. Escape from New York
RS: What advice would you give someone who is writing their first screenplay?
DZ: Actually write it! Then write the next one.
RS: What's next for A Big Love Story?
DZ: Distribution deal later this year, will hopefully see the film on DVD, streaming, and cable!
(A sold out screening of A Big Love Story at the Savannah Film Festival)
To learn more about Dale's work, CLICK HERE
View the trailer below