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.