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An interview with Dimitri Devyatkin, writer of Pharaoh

Dimitri's screenplay, Pharaoh recently won big at the 3rd season of the Filmtage der Nationen and we had an interesting chat with the writer.

Filmtage : What sparked your interest in  becoming an independent  screenwriter, and how has your  journey been navigating the world of  screenwriting outside of traditional  studio systems?

Dimitri : I became a screenwriter after a long career as an independent  film and video producer. I was a pioneer of Video Art, as  Video Director of the famous electronic theater in New York,  “The Kitchen.“ I worked with legendary video artists and had my work broadcast internationally. Then, I went to Russia to  study documentary directing at VGIK, the film institute in  Moscow. I had great success in the Moscow film world, line  produced 6 great features and several prize-winning documentaries for French, British and US TV. Afterwards, I  became a TV news producer, working at CBS News and other  channels. Returning to New York, I produced many videos and  films. Working as a Broadcast Engineer at ABC Television in  New York, one of my colleagues advised me that since I could  write, I should treasure that ability, as it was rare and the  ultimate of creative potential. I began with an historical  drama that won many prizes, titled “Ferocious,” about  America’s greatest naval hero, John Paul Jones. Then I started  working on “Pharaoh,” the screenplay for which you have so  graciously awarded me top prize. As a producer, I want to  produce both of these films myself. Both projects have won  many prizes, but raising production funds is 99% of the work  to make them happen. As an independent, I am particularly concerned with purity of the content and not succumbing to  corporate control. That is the most difficult struggle.

Filmtage : As an independent screenwriter, you  have the freedom to explore unique  and daring narratives. How do you  approach the creative process to craft  compelling stories that stand out in a saturated market?

Dimitri : I believe that current audiences are mature and sophisticated  enough to appreciate realistic and honest storytelling. I avoid  simple Good Guy – Bad Guy stories, but have developed a  style I call “Historical Noir,” in which famous events and  persons are depicted in both their most heroic and most  despicable aspects. I write these tales with modern  sensibilities, even though they occur in the past. I approach  the creative process by simply laying my fingers on the  computer keyboard and let the ideas just come naturally.

Filmtage : Independent screenwriters often face  challenges in getting their scripts  noticed by producers and filmmakers. How do you go about  networking and connecting with  potential collaborators to bring your scripts to life?

Dimitri : I have submitted my screenplays to contests, both at Film  Freeway and at Coverfly. I have a high percentage of wins, and  have often requested written feedback. Now, producing the  screenplay “Pharaoh,” I have approached film studios and  producers in the Mid East, and have received their praise and  support.

Filmtage : Your submitted screenplay has been  praised for its originality and depth of  characters. Can you share some  insights into the development  process, and how you ensure your  characters resonate with audiences?

Dimitri : My father, Paul Devyatkin, was a superb storyteller and  mythology expert. When I was young, he used to tell my  brothers and me fascinating stories of all sorts. “Pharaoh” was one of our favorites, derived from a very short story in  Herodotus’ “The Histories.” He made all his stories  immediately accessible to a 12-year-old, and I maintain the  same style of simplicity and easy emotional accessibility.

Filmtage : Independent filmmaking often allows  for more artistic expression, but it  can also mean limited budgets. How  do you strike a balance between  creative vision and practicality when  writing scripts for independent  productions?

Dimitri : I refuse to limit the possible films of my screenplays to  insufficient funding. High production values require at least $20 Million USD for a 2-hour feature. I make the extra effort  and pursue interested funders and producers to get the  correct budgets for my films.

We wish a great creative year ahead to Dimitri Devyatkin.

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