Filmmatic.com recently wrapped up judging on it’s 2016 Screenplay Awards competition. One of the great bi-products of that process was the discovery of our overall-winning screenwriter Davin Affrunti (above), and his compelling script “The Sower”.
Davin is a graduate of San Francisco State University, and still lives, works and writes in the S.F. Bay area. “The Sower” is a unique satirical thriller based on the best-selling novel by Kemble Scott of the same name. Described as “Thank You For Smoking” meets “Burn After Reading”, the twisted, darkly-comic thriller follows a chaste introvert who gets pulled into a manic web of intrigue, manhunt and culture warfare when he unwittingly becomes the sole carrier of a “viral phage” STD that cures all human disease.
After congratulating Davin on winning our competition, we asked him to answer a few questions for our readers, enjoy:
1) How long have you been writing?
As long as I can remember, in some form or another. In fact, while recently moving some boxes, I came across a short story parody from back in grade school called Jackass and the Vinestalk. So embarrassing — I truly wouldn’t believe it was mine if my name wasn’t on the front page. I don’t think my mom would have approved of me writing about prostitutes and hallucinogens at such a young age. Now she’s just used to it I guess…
As for as screenwriting, I completed my first script in the fall of 2004 — an assignment we had to turn out in one semester for a college class. Apparently, I was the only one who completed it. I felt like such a geek.
2) What screenwriting training have you received, are you self-taught?
I went to San Francisco State University. They have both a great Broadcasting and Film program, which gave me a solid foundation to continue learning and improving as the years go on. Though it bothers my wife, I tell her — it’s my duty to watch both good and bad movies, in order to see what works and what doesn’t.
3) What writing habits work for you? Do you write in short or long shifts, in the mornings, late at night?
This varies from script to script, and throughout my life. In my early twenties I would pump out hours and hours of material while the moon was glowing. Then I met my wife, and had change my habits a little, obviously. Nowadays, it sometimes requires research during the day, getting out and about, and then writing a scene or two at night. Sometimes vice versa. I still don’t sleep very well, so it leaves me quite a bit of flexibility.
4) What genres do you lean towards, are you mainly a thriller/horror writer?
I tend to gravitate towards dark comedy and crime thriller. They often overlap too. This was my first attempt to fuse a sci-fi element, and it made every bit of attention to detail that much more important.
5) How did you get the idea for Sower?
I read the novel while vacationing in Bali, and was immediately intrigued by the idea of an STD saving mankind. I loved the playful tone — a satire of a paranoid political thriller. It was almost reminiscent of Don DeLillo or Ben Elton. I took the big concept and ran with it, and created completely different plot and characters, while maintaining the bigger social issues at hand.
6) What are you working on now? What do you plan on writing in the near future?
I’m currently adapting a satirical novel — in fact it’s by Kemble Scott, the same author as The Sower. I’m also working on a darkly comic thriller, which revolves around an evicted newlywed couple heisting the coveted annual release of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon from bars during SantaCon to sell on the black market. I have been running restaurants for years, and have actually personally experienced the madness of SantaCon as hundreds of drunkards wearing the same clothing take over neighborhood bars without warning. It’s debauchery… and sort of the perfect cover for the perfect crime.
My next planned project is a crime bio based on true life Irish-American bootlegger “Legs” Diamond, but I really want to get a producer on board before diving into an epic period piece. Any takers?
7) Any advice for those about to dive into their first feature-length screenplay?
Watch the film Adaptation, specifically the scene where Robert McKee rants about how voice-over is sloppy. Take that notion and throw it out the window. If your script calls for it naturally, you write it naturally. Rules and conventions are for fucking book sales.
Congratulations again to Davin Affrunti for winning top prize in the 2016 Filmmatic Screenplay Awards. The Filmmatic staff will happily forward any questions regarding “The Sower” or Davin’s other works it receives.