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An interview with Martin Zitter, writer of Dmitriy’s Revenge

The story follows a Ukrainian concert pianist who is coerced by the KGB to steal the mysterious Truth Serum from America, resulting in unintended tragicomedy and success arising from his amateurish efforts.

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?

Martin Zitter : I recently retired from a career in financial services in Los Angeles and with the help of a manager began shopping Dmitriy’s Revenge, one of the scripts that I had independently developed over the years. My chosen genre, alternative history - with laughs, seemed to be an undeveloped niche for topical subject matter. As to be expected, the U.S. studio system has responded with “hard sell” although it has won several contest and festival awards.

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?

Martin Zitter : I enjoy not necessarily a happy story, but at least on balance an optimistic and entertaining one rather than the typical psychopathy many films feature. I call them assaults with a cinematic weapon. My preference is grounded character-driven social science fiction, as compared to technological science fiction or pure fantasy. The seamless blending of actual fact with realistic imaginary circumstances that are often incidentally comedic.

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?

Martin Zitter : As of this writing with Hollywood on strike, the best a novice writer can hope for is to be included on some prospective producer’s “slate” or “banked” with a nominally-priced option. Dmitriy’s Revenge is at heart a “foreign” movie so I’m attempting to network with European performers and producers.

Filmtage : "Dmitriy’s Revenge" 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?

Martin Zitter : Rather than merely likable, my principal characters should be truly admirable, relatable, and even sociable while under extreme conditions. The idea is that if you met most of them in real life you’d find their manners, tact, and conversation pleasant and even attractive.

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?

Martin Zitter : You can daydream all day long about your above-the-line A-list druthers, but independent filmmaking must by definition be cheap filmmaking, however by no means cheap-looking filmmaking. The calculus must be continuously made so that while you’re putting on the page what you expect to see on the stage you must also put on your green eyeshade and wear your line-producer’s hat while keeping a realistic running tally.

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