Evan Leighton Davis - Script Consultant

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WHY SHOULD YOU LISTEN TO HIM…? Because in total he has assessed over 3,000 projects for Britain’s leading film companies and funding bodies.

WHO HE’S WORKED WITH… Working Title, Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures and Universal.


BIOGRAPHY

Evan is the owner of London-based INDUSTRIAL SCRIPTS, and one of the leading script consultants working in the UK today, having assessed material for a range of established industry producers, funding bodies and American studios, including: Dan Films, TalkbackThames, Intermedia, Mirage Enterprises, Working Title, CinemaNX, BBC Films, Pathé, Screen South, Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures, See-Saw Films, Optimum Releasing, Universal and Scott Free.

In addition, for 3 years Evan was in-house Script Consultant at Ealing Studios, reporting to Head of Development Sophie Meyer. In 2008, he was credited script editor on the first feature financed exclusively out of Dubai (the $7m CITY OF LIFE).  He is also an analyst for PEEP SHOW creator Andrew O’Connor,

Evan has also investigated at length the screenwriting theories of SAVE THE CAT! author Blake Snyder. In total, Evan has assessed over 3,000 projects for Britain’s leading film companies and funding bodies.



Q:  What was your favourite film as a kid?

A:   As a kid, probably WILLOW but having said that my brother did show me both THE TERMINATOR and PREDATOR at a very early age and I remember being stunned by both of them, just outstanding survival-thrillers.

Q:  Who inspired you when you were starting out?

A:   I read the brilliant Faber & Faber published edition of THE USUAL SUSPECTS script when I was about 18 - not only the script but the interview beforehand with its writer Chris McQuarrie were incredibly enlightening. As far as other inspirations, the likes of Michael Mann, Minghella, Scorsese, Ridley Scott and others inspired me through their films, and I also loved (and still love) Shane Meadows when I was starting out – I remember DEAD MAN’S SHOES really impressing me…

Q:  What was your big break?

A:   My career has, like many in British film, represented a steady progression rather than featuring any big breaks. Having said that being plucked from the ranks of readers to work in development at Ealing Studios was certainly a shot in the arm, as was working for the likes of Working Title, Paramount and Scott Free.

Q:  What was the best day in your career?

A:   Realising recently that my company, Industrial Scripts, was going to turn a profit in its first year of business was very satisfying and reassuring because as any business owner will tell you, launching your own ship is a huge undertaking. Walking through the gates at Ealing Studios on my first day at work there was also memorable, as was doing development work for the likes of Scott Free and the Hollywood studios. During my time as a journalist I remember my first big commission for a national magazine felt great, too…

Q:  What has been your most important lesson?

A:   Learn from your mistakes. Everyone makes them, but identifying where you’ve gone wrong and rectifying it the next time is the most valuable skill you can have. That and tenacity - an ability to simply keep going, irrespective of how the industry’s currently treating you. I also read a great bit of advice recently that’s quite applicable to film: “calmly ignore the naysayers, for there are many.”

Q:  If a niece or nephew wanted to be in the business, what would you advise them?

A:  If you are absolutely 100% dead-set, hell-bent, obsessed, no-other-route’s-an-option about film, then go for it on that basis. If you’re not, then be warned: there are countless others who are, in every area of the business, who’ll be willing to go that extra inch that you won’t. And this isn’t an industry which rewards those who attack it half-heartedly. It’s very all-or-nothing, so I would say that looking at yourself honestly in the light of this, and making a judgment accordingly, is very important. Also I would advise building a career back-up plan, and if you’re freelance try to build different revenue streams in different areas so that if one collapses you have others to fall back on.

Q:  What is the hardest part of your job and how do you overcome it?

A:   Reading weak or underdeveloped scripts. The nature of development however is that you only need to read one really strong script every so often to re-charge your batteries, but I have had periods where I genuinely wondered where all the good scripts were. The same goes for watching films, you only need to see one cracker to re-affirm you whole faith in “The Game”…

Q:  What do you feel is a writers’ or filmmakers' key responsibility?

A:   To generate intrigue in the reader/audience would have to be high up on the list. You wouldn’t believe how many scripts I’ve read where I’m not intrigued by a character, or what’s going to happen next - create intrigue in an audience though and you can’t go too far wrong. Also I think too many inexperienced writers and filmmakers – less so in America but certainly in the UK – are afraid of creating projects that do what they say on the tin. Some of the greatest films in history have been pure genre fare, just executed extraordinarily well, so I would say to a new writer or filmmaker: think of your audience all the time, if you’re making a horror and it’s going to satisfy those genre fans, then you’ve done your job.

Q:  What mistakes do you see writers or film makers making over and over?

A:   Leaping headfirst into writing scripts based on poorly conceived ideas would be a very common flaw. Not thinking about audience enough. Kidding themselves about potential audiences – I’ve seen projects submitted where the audience was basically listed as “everyone”…!! So hang on, that’s SAW meets LADIES IN LAVENDER, right?!!

Q:  What advice would you offer a writer or film maker?

A:   Be in it for the long haul. Be very strategic about your career and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do great things early – look at your Minghellas, your Ridley Scotts, those guys were toiling away in TV/advertising well into their 30s, but those experiences greatly informed their later work. Network furiously, turn up to anything, everything. And again, don’t put all your eggs in the one basket, and try to be creative about generating different revenue streams for yourself.