Screenwriter Daniel Kunka wrote the 2009 movie 12 Rounds and has sold two high profile spec scripts: Agent Ox and Bermuda Triangle. In addition, Daniel is working on the project “Crime of the Century” with Chris Morgan producing.
Recently Daniel and I had an excellent conversation which I am happy to share here.
Today in Part 4, Daniel recounts what the actual sale of “Bermuda Triangle” was like:
Scott: One theme that creates empathy and also ties together some of the subplots is regret. Multiple characters carry a significant remorse about something in their past. Is that accurate, and if so why did you decide to explore that emotional territory?
Daniel: I think part of your voice as a writer relates not just to the stories you tell, but also the character choices you make either consciously or subconsciously.
For me, I love making my main characters the sort of reluctant hero. Or maybe it’s the unlikely hero. I don’t know why, it’s just something inside of me that’s drawn to that. For Bermuda Triangle, I focused very early on to the idea that this semi-horrific global disaster would be a chance for a few of our main characters to gain redemption. And to gain redemption, you have to start with some sort of regret. So it became a theme of how I wanted to relate to this particular group of people.
On a more general note, I think regret or self-doubt is just incredibly empathetic. Even the most confident person in the world has some things about himself that he’s unsure about. It’s a universal truth and as they say, those make the best stories.
Scott: So you write this script, it goes out, and Warner Brothers buys it. Where were you when you found out that they stepped up to the plate and acquired the script?
Daniel: I was cleaning my house. Seriously, it’s the most nerve‑wrecking and exhilarating thing in the entire world. I love writing specs, but it’s terrifying. When you’re writing it, you think you’re making this huge mistake. Then you give it to your agent and your manager and they have a notes and then one day it’s, “Okay, we’re going to try and sell this thing now.”
So it goes out early in the week. The producers, hopefully they like it, they’re taking it into studios. But none of them actually call you. You get very little feedback as the town reads your script. And then it goes into the studio, and then the junior studio executive reads it and loves it, and then holy crap, your script is literally sitting on the desk of one guy who can say yes or no and either ruin your year or make it.
Like I said, nerve-wrecking. And it never gets easier. But then you get the call, the script sells, you’re totally euphoric and then you hang up the phone and your kid is crying and you need to make dinner and it’s “all right, I get to be a professional screenwriter for another year.” And that’s just about the best thing in the world cause who wants a real job? I love it.
Tomorrow in Part 5, Daniel discusses some key aspects of the screenwriting craft.
For Part 1, go here.
For Part 2, go here.
For Part 3, go here.
Please stop by comments to thank Daniel and ask any questions you may have.
Daniel is repped by ICM Partners and Madhouse Entertainment.