Thursday, June 28, 2012

Q&A With David Abramowitz - Screenwriter of "War of the Worlds: Goliath"

From ancient immortals to aliens and detectives, David Abramowitz has been writing for various projects in the competitive Hollywood industry for over 30 years. This includes an internationally much-loved fantasy TV series called Highlander.

The veteran screenwriter, who has a deep interest in Norse mythology and war stories, recently went steampunk-alien-invasion with a new 3D animation movie called “War of the Worlds: Goliath” (WoTW:Goliath). 

WoTW:Goliath” is a creative collaboration between Malaysian-based media company Tripod Entertainment and various American creators like director Joe Pearson, a veteran of animation, co-founder of Tripod and owner/ president of Epoch Ink Animation and Executive Producer Kevin Eastman (CEO, Heavy Metal). Plus a list of well-known genre voice actors - Peter Wingfield (Highlander/ Caprica/ Sanctuary), Adrian Paul (Highlander), Adam Baldwin (Chuck/ Firefly), Mark Sheppard (Supernatural/ Leverage/ BSG), Elizabeth Gracen (Highlander) amongst many others.

This animation film is an epic about the fight by a group of multinational soldiers from war machine Tripod Goliath, in their fearless attempt to ward off the relentless Martians returning for a second round of invasion.

And all the characters in “WoTW:Goliath” would not have voices if there wasn't an interesting story to tell.

Red Dot Diva - who loves things cerebral - had to find out what made an experienced writer like David tick:

Red Dot Diva: Many fans of pop-culture will undoubtedly remember you from the popular “Highlander” TV series. Which character did you enjoy writing the most?
David: That's like asking which of my children I enjoy the most. I think Methos, played by Peter Windfield, was the most fun. A five thousand year old Immortal who when you ask him what he has learned from life, responds "Shit happens." can be great fun to write.

I think Duncan Macleod, played by Adrian Paul, appealed to the flawed and sometimes brooding
hero that all men have as a part of themselves. Macleod always seemed to carry the weight of the world on his shoulder, but he never shrugged. He strove to do the right thing even when it was difficult for him.

Amanda was a hoot to write because she was such a rascal. And because the actress Elizabeth Gracen played her perfectly.

Jim, Byrnes as Joe Dawson, was the perfect everyman and a wonderful professional.

The bottom line and the honest truth was that I loved writing all these characters because of the talent of the actors who played them, which elevated my work.


Red Dot Diva: The technology in media has advanced tremendously in the last 10 years or so. 3D and IMAX are becoming standard mass media format releases as well. Does any of this change or impact the way you write or how a story is being crafted?
David: For me, not really. I think that a good story is the heart of it all. That doesn't change because of technology. What changes is the scope what you can write...“Avatar” proved that.

Red Dot Diva: What has been the toughest challengethat you face while writing “WoTW:Goliath”?
David: Actually believing that it would truly be made. So many projects fall by the wayside. I started with an excellent story created by Joe Pearson our director, so it was pretty painless and the canvas was wide open.

Red Dot Diva: In your opinion, what makes a woman a hero(ine)?
David: The same thing that makes a man heroic - the ability to overcome one's fear or one's nature and yet do the right thing. It's the thing firemen and women have who race into a burning building even though their mind and their instincts are screaming at them to run in the opposite direction. It is also the ability to face the truth of your own failings.

Red Dot Diva: We have a commonly-used Chinese phrase for female characters on screen who speak only a few words and are mainly there to look pretty. The term we use is “flower vase”. In a war-based film like “WoTW:Goliath”, are the females relegated to background characters?
David: No, we have one character named Jennifer who is a gunner on a war Tripod and has given up a life of wealth to fight for what she believes in. She is pretty, but she speaks, has opinions and fires a machine gun well. And if you called her a flower vase she might knock you out.

Red Dot Diva: Are you present when the voice actors record their lines? As the screenwriter, do you offer suggestions on how certain lines could be performed, and are revisions common during recording?
David: I was there for some of it, and I left most the suggestions to Gavin our voice director.  But on several occasions I spoke to the actors and Gavin was kind enough not to object. I worked with most of these folks on Highlander and there is a short hand and trust between us.

There were changes in the dialogue at the last moment.  Sometimes an actor was more comfortable saying a line with slightly different wording.  If it worked for them and didn't change the intent of the line it was fine with me.

Knowing that many of Red Dot Diva's friends and readers love writing and/ or aspire to be publish their works, she had to ask David Abramowitz what he would consider to be important factors which contribute to a writer’s longevity in the media and entertainment industry.

And here are some very valuable advice from a man who has helmed and created several successful projects. Take heed!

In David's own words and not in order of importance:

1. Work hard. Writing is about rewriting and making it better even when you hate looking at the screen. Keep your behind in the chair. Read again and once out loud so that you can hear the voices.

2. Learn how to listen to producers or the executives who are giving you notes, even if you don't agree with them. NEVER tell them their notes are idiotic, even if they are. These are the people who are paying you. It is a collaborative medium. Part of the job is to take their criticism and try to make your work better. If they are giving you note that make your work worse, try to convince them that they are wrong, but do it carefully.

3. Work with good people. Especially directors who can read your work and offer suggestions that make you look at it again and make it better.

4. Deflect praise to the people above you and the people below you, so that the people below you give you their best work and so the people above you don't fear you.

5. Work on the story and know your characters. If you have a good story, the characters will speak the dialogue as if channeled through you.

6. Do not be discouraged. You have to keep showing up at work in order to get the prize. Showing up for a writer is writing.

7. Think like an entrepreneur and never wait for someone else to find you a job. Look for opportunities, whenever they are available.

8. Be grateful. I have always been grateful that I could tell stories for a living.

Now, if you are heading to SDCC 2012, love steampunk, war heroes and aliens, and see how David Abramowitz's words get magically translated into 3D animation, then keep Saturday July 14th night free!

WoTW:Goliath will premiere at 7pm that night, at Pacific Theatres Gaslamp 15, about 5-6 blocks from the Convention Centre. A 20-minute Q&A with cast and production members will follow. Peter Wingfield, Adrian Paul, Joe Pearson, David Abramowitz, Kevin Eastman, Leon Tan and various other crew members will be attending the session too.

There will only be a limited number of tickets available, so stay tuned on how to get tickets to the screening!

And don't forget to visit Heavy Metal booth (#1529) at the Comic-Con showfloor for signings and all things WoTW:Goliath”!


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Website for info and trailer - http://www.wotw-goliath.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/groups/wotwgoliath/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/#!/@WotWGoliath
Production blog - http://www.heavymetal.com/wotw/

Red Dot Diva would like to thank David Abramowitz for taking the time to field her questions.

Thanks also to Elysabeth Fulda from Sphinx Group and Leon Tan from Tripod for the introductions!


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