Sunday, December 18, 2011

Interview: "Chained" screenwriter Damian O'Donnell

Perth Now/The Sunday Times, December 17, 2011
by: Glen Quartermain

A rugby player's field of dreams


DAMIAN O'Donnell has many guises: captain-coach of University's fourth-grade rugby team, accountant, sports administrator.

Now he can add international screenwriter to the list.

The 52-year-old has spent a lifetime dabbling in screenplay, but until now it has been only a hobby.

That hobby has morphed into a low-budget independent psychological thriller, Chained, directed by Jennifer Lynch and starring Vincent D'Onofrio and Julia Ormond, which is due for release next year by Myriad Pictures.

O'Donnell is now being wooed by one of LA's big talent agencies and is in demand to write more low-budget horror and bigger- purse action thrillers.

O'Donnell's life changed in a moment of serendipity, but it would take another 16 years for it to be transformed.

In 1995, he wrote a screenplay that was shown to a US producer, Craig Anderson, who just happened to be holidaying in Perth at the time.

"I mentioned this script I wrote to a mate named Bear Yugnovich one day when we were getting ready for a game and it turned out his wife's best friend was married to Craig and it all went from there," he said.

"There were big plans in place, but they were all shot down by the release of the trailer for Independence Day.

"It was a virtually identical story, so we were dead in the water. But on the strength of that, Craig said, 'We love your writing so if you write anything else please send it to us'.

"So I wrote this thing called Archangel about these ritualistic murders in New York in the lead-up to the year 2000 and the end of the world and they quite liked that, but before that had gone too far Arnold (Schwarzenegger) came out with End of Days. Same deal. Dead in the water again.

"I got so frustrated, putting in so much time and effort to go nowhere."

In 2001, O'Donnell received an email out of nowhere asking if he had any low-budget horror scripts in the pipeline.

"I said no I don't, but I'll write you something," he said. "So I wrote the first 20 pages for this thing that is now being made, but with a fairly heavy workload in my day job. I didn't get around to finishing it until 2005, which I decided to do really just for my own personal satisfaction.

"I sent it off not expecting too much after such a long delay and they came back saying that though they loved it, their slate was full and they wouldn't be able to pick it up.

"Truthfully, I just forgot about it after that until one Saturday morning in September last year when I got another email out of the blue asking if the script was still available.

"The guys at the production company, Envision Media, said that over the course of the subsequent five years they just kept coming back to thinking what a great movie that little script would have made."

Shot with a $2.5 million budget in Los Angeles and on location in Regina and Moose Jaw in Saskatchewan, Canada, D'Onofrio, best known for his detective role in Law and Order, plays a serial killer who kidnaps a woman (Ormond), who happens to have her young son, Rabbit, in tow.

The killer decides to keep the kid around and make him his protege.

Fast forward 10 years and a grown Rabbit must decide whether to follow in the footsteps of his captor/mentor or plan his escape.

"There are only really two types of serial killer genres," O'Donnell said. "Those where the victims are trying to run away from the killer or those where the dogged cop chases the killer.

"I have never seen one where you take a normal person and parachute him fair and square into the middle of a serial killer's life. Where murder is just another day on the ranch for this guy. The question it poses is: Does a normal, naturally good person become evil because of their environment or can they overcome all that and stay a good person?"

O'Donnell had to pinch himself at times when he was on set in July watching D'Onofrio and Ormond perform their craft with his script.

"It is in pretty good hands," he said.

"Hearing Vincent on set . . . I can remember sitting at my desk when I was writing it, thinking, 'What the hell am I going to get this guy to say next?' And then a guy of Vincent's calibre comes along and elevates the character more than I could have imagined. He has developed this speech impediment and he has a stoop and he walks with a shuffle.

"I wrote it, I knew what he was going to say, but he still scared the st out of me."

At the moment O'Donnell is an amateur sportsman who dabbles in movies. If his career as a screenwriter takes off, it might be reversed.

Originally from Sydney, he was a ball boy for Eastern Suburbs Roosters in 1974-75 when they won first-grade rugby league back-to-back titles under legendary coach Jack Gibson and captain Arthur Beetson, who died on December 1 at 66 from a heart attack..

O'Donnell remains a rabid Roosters fan and even named one of the characters in his film Brad Fittler, after the former Roosters player and coach.

He moved to Perth as a 17-year-old at the end of 1975, but crossed codes to union and 36 years later is still playing, this year chalking up his 500th game for University, which won its third successive fourth-grade premiership in September.

"I've had the crap beaten out of me, but thankfully not all the creative juices," he said.

Shop Amazon - FREE One Day Shipping on Select Products


No comments:

[Browse Amazon]

[CURRENT PROJECTS]

List of films in production.

"In Dubious Battle" [2016]

"In Dubious Battle" [2016]
An activist gets caught up in the labor movement for farm workers in California during the 1930s. Vincent....Al Anderson

"TENN" [TBA]

A story about the early life of Tennessee Williams

Directed by James Franco
Vincent D'Onofrio, Jacob Loeb

"American Falls" - [TBA]

In a rural town in Southern Idaho, the Suzukis, a Japanese American family, run a small motel. One night they get a strange visitor who sports ‘city’ clothes who turns out to be the first African-American man that Toru Suzuki’s children have ever seen. Yoshiko takes it upon herself to solve the mystery about this man, especially when 2 police officers come knocking on their door.

Short film produced by Erika Hampson.
Vincent D'Onofrio as Detective Foster.

'Purgatory' [TBA]

'Purgatory' [TBA]
Tagline: In the Wild West a lot of blood was spilled... but it didn't go to waste. Vincent....Dallas Stoudenmire

"A Fall From Grace" [TBA]

Detective Michael Tabb knows the city of St. Louis inside and out. He has felt its true heart, as much as its dark underbelly: but he does not know who, in both the dark and light - is taking the lives of young girls.

Director: Jennifer Lynch
Producer/Writer ...Eric Wilkinson

Vincent D'Onofrio ....George Lawson (GRACE's father)
Tim Roth.......Detective Tabb

Filming in St Louis - TBA

"Supreme Ruler" [TBA]

A man campaigns to become the leader of the Buffalo lodge.

Vincent D'Onofrio as Hank Dory
Ron Livingston as Steve
Marcia Gay Harden as Nancy

"The Monster Next Door" [TBA]

"The Monster Next Door" - Comedy Horror

Executive Produced by Dennis Johnson, Melanie Mohlman Produced by Eric Wilkinson, David Michaels
Written by Jim Robbins
Directed by Jennifer Lynch

Cast: Vincent D'Onofrio, Bill Pullman, French Stewart, Bill Moseley

'Down & Dirty Pictures' - [in Production - Filming TBA]

'Down & Dirty Pictures' - [in Production - Filming TBA]
Vincent......Harvey Weinstein

[Search This Blog]

[Google It]

  © Blogger templates Brooklyn by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP