Notable Works: Wrote documentary The Ballad of Esequiel Hernández (2007); co-wrote The Homesman (2014) with Tommy Lee Jones and Wesley Oliver; co-wrote upcoming Snowden with Oliver Stone
How did you break in or get your start in screenwriting?
I wrote a script while at the Michener Center for Writers that I managed to get into the hands of one of Chris Nolan’s agents. He wanted to see more, and when I’d finished my second spec script I sent it to him. He also represented Oliver Stone, who was looking for a writer at the time, and as luck would have it, my spec script was about Cuban militants working for the CIA during the Cold War. It struck his fancy. I was hired to adapt a novel for him called The Army of the Republic. The movie never happened, but the job launched my career.
What would be your advice to aspiring screenwriters?
When you go losing yourself in a project, it’s good to have some kind of life beyond movies in place for when you come out the other side.
What was the hardest scene or project you’ve ever had to write?
Writing with an animal as the protagonist. Definitely. I adapted a wonderful book about Siberian tiger poaching by John Vaillant called The Tiger for Focus, and my main character was, indeed, a Siberian tiger. It’s hard not to slip off into the chasm of fuzzy Disney Old Yeller on one side, or Cujo on the other. I have great admiration for anyone who can pull off a movie with animals.
Who is your favorite screenwriter?
I’m going to do some shameless promotion here and say my little brother, Aidan Fitzgerald. Everyone should hire him. He’s seriously good.
1. Annie Silverstein 2. Jared Frieder 3. Mike Covino and Sam Kretchmar 4.Troy Anthony Miller 5. Kieran Fitzgerald 6. Ya’ke Smith 7. Brian Klugman 8. Nina Ljeti 9. Kevin Hamedani 10. Eric Haywood 11. Andrew Lanham 12. Julie Howe 13. Tess Morris 14. Matt Cook 15. Monica Zanetti 16. VJ Boyd 17. Edward Ricourt 18. David Broyles 19. Sasha Gordon 20. Eric Hueber 21. Faraday Okoro 22. Arturo Ruiz Serrano 23. Maya Perez 24. Max Taxe 25. Negin Farsad