BPS 201: How to Get IP and Life Rights for Your Screenplay with David Kessler

05.27.2022 - By Bulletproof Screenwriting™ Podcast with Alex Ferrari

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Originally from Philadelphia, David attended that city’s “Fame” high school, Creative And Performing Arts, where his classmates included QuestLove and Boyz II Men. He then graduated from Parsons School of Design in New York, and worked as a graphic designer for ad agencies, designed book covers, movie posters, and indie film titles.He impulsively moved to Los Angeles in 2000 and became a stand-up comic for a while, performing at The Improv, The Vancouver Comedy Festival, and in sketches on “The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson” and “The Showbiz Show with David Spade”. But he tired of comedy clubs after a few years and focused on writing instead. In 2006, his “Will & Grace” spec made it to the semi-finals of the Warner Bros. Comedy Workshop.Switching to drama, he optioned the book “Minamata” (and the life rights of the author), about the experiences of journalist W. Eugene Smith photographing mercury poisoning victims in Japan. He wrote the screenplay in six weeks, and it got him a literary manager. Then Johnny Depp’s company came on board to produce with Depp himself as the star. Filming on MINAMATA completed in the Spring of ’19, with an expected release in Fall 2021. “Minamata” premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 2020 and has since been picked up by Samuel Goldwyn Films for domestic distribution. It also stars Bill Nighy, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tadanobu Asano, and the singer Katherine Jenkins.His follow up, DREAMERS (based on the book John Lennon Vs. The US), is about John Lennon’s immigration battle with the Nixon administration which legally set the stage (many years later) for DACA/The Dream Act. David was recently hired by the director of “Minamata”, Andrew Levitas, to rewrite a script about the two brothers who owned Adidas and Puma and who battled each other for decades. That project, “Adidas V Puma”, is currently out to actors and mentioned in “The Hollywood Reporter” in early March 2021.

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