Interview: David Steinhoff

Interview: David Steinhoff, Screenplay Writer & Photographer - 27th October 2004

How does one write a feature film script?

I approach, ‘Writing partnerships’, with Producers, Directors, Actors and Film Entrepreneurs, by asking a series of questions, to establish their creative vision for the project.

What kind of questions?

For example;

1. What is the genre?

(Drama, comedy, thriller etc).

2. What is the premise?

(The core idea).

3. What is the tone?

(For example, dark and brooding, bright and romantic).

4. Does this look like or have a similar story to another film?

( For example, it may look like, ‘MAD MAX’ or, ‘ DRIVING MISS DAISY’,

or it may look like MAD MAX meets DRIVING MISS DAISY ).

5. Who is the hero and who is our nemesis?

(The hero can only be as great as the challenge laid down by the nemesis).

6. What does the hero want and what or who is stopping them from achieving that goal.

7. What do the hero and the nemesis have in common and how do they differ?

8. What are the main characters’ arcs?

(For example; What is their emotional journey and what do they learn from it)?

9. What is the general story arc?

10. Is there a theme or message?

11. What story and filmic components do you wish to see?

12. What are the story outcomes you wish to see?

13. What is your key demographic.
(Who are you trying to reach)?


Once I get answers to those basic questions, I can generate a template to build on.

I can also quote, time and price estimates, to producers, based on that template.

So that’s it? That’s all there is to scriptwriting?

That’s the foundation stone to a spiral cathedral.

Who hires a scriptwriter?

Producers, directors and members of the public.

Members of the public? You mean, Joe Schmo can hire a scriptwriter and make his own movie?

Joe Schmo may have the best story going.

If someone has a great story and they want to see it become a feature film, TV series or even a short film, they can call me.

They have to be prepared to fund its development, but if they do fund it, I can write it and take it to market.

You have a reputation as being one of the best action writers in Australia.

So the reviewers say. I do like action and I do have a natural skill for writing it.

Regrettably, there’s little in the way of demand for that kind of writing in Australia. The audiences want to see it but the funding bodies only fund, art house work and laconic Australian comedies. (Yawn).

Is action all you write?

I like thrillers, crime, war, romance, Sci-fi , in fact I could write just about any genre and enjoy myself.

All of my work, regardless of genre, speaks of the human condition and there’s always romance. I like romance. Especially tragic romance. I love what Craig Pierce and Baz Lurhhmann did with ROMEO and JULIET. It’s a masterpiece.

What have you done in the past and what are you doing now?

I have written two feature film scripts.


A crime thriller about a 16 year-old schoolgirl who avenges her brother’s murder.



A WW2 romance about an Australian war cameramen that films the relationship between a fighter pilot and a French girl.

Both of these scripts have been optioned and the producer is looking to raise finance to make them.

In addition, this year, I was commissioned to write a TV pilot for a South African production company and currently, I’m working as the script supervisor for the new WW2 mini-series,


(Based on the book by Allana Arnot).

Have you made any short films?

I’ve lost count of the number of productions I’ve worked on.

Last year, I produced my own short called, ‘POOKIE’, a black comedy, and now I’m planning a series of 6 to 9 relationship shorts titled, ‘IN LOVE, AT WAR’. (Shorts on life, love and sex). The series explores the gap of misunderstanding between the sexes.

You mean there’s a gap?

It’s hard to believe, but yes.

What are your favourite movies?

Based on the number of times I’ve viewed them…

Schindler’s list. (19 times).
Romeo and Juliet. (14 times).
Koyaanisqatsi ( 6 times).
4. Casablanca ( 5 times).

That said, I have many favourite films.

The Russian classic, Burnt by the son.

The Czech film, Dark Blue world.

The 60’s cold war masterpiece, Failsafe.

The Australian 80s version of, Robbery under arms.

Final Fantasy

The Thing ( Both versions).


Black hawk down
The English Patient

The Alien movies


All of these represent vastly different genres and styles of movies but I have no problem liking them all.

Who inspires you?

Right now, you do. I am knocked out by GREG TINGLE’S get up and go attitude.

See you at the top.

Do you have a list of writing services you offer?

Sure, follow the link.



David Steinhoff


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