Thursday, October 16, 2008

From "Taco!" to Mexico

CS Open Winner Becomes Produced Feature Writer
by Jim Cirile

The Screenwriting Expo is rolling back into the LA Convention Center next month, and I know I’ll see plenty of you guys there. As always Coverage, Ink will be coordinating the CS Open live writing tournament. Can you write a killer original scene, on the spot based on parameters we give you? You have 90 minutes and a pencil. Go! If you’ve never tried your hand at the CS Open, I urge you to do so. Thousands of dollars in prizes plus fun and learning await. And every scene is critiqued and graded by the Coverage, Ink team. Check it out HERE. And check out the interview with CS Open winner Bob DeRosa to see what he’s been up to!

In 2003, Bob DeRosa’s hilarious scene “Taco!”, about a inept investigation at a mob holiday dinner, easily won the CS Open Writing Tournament. Four years later, “The Air I Breathe”, cowritten by DeRosa and Jieho Lee, is now available on after a theatrical release earlier this year -- with a cast that includes Kevin Bacon, Julie Delpy, Brendan Fraser, Andy Garcia, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Forest Whitaker.

“I moved to L.A. summer of 2001,” DeRosa recalls. “I wrote a spec called ‘The Hatchet Club,’ a horror/action movie that got me an agent--but no one bought it. I got over 40 meetings out of it though, and wrote (unproduced) movies for Revolution and New Regency.”

DeRosa’s career got a little bump after “Taco!” DeRosa loved the scene so much he reworked it into a short. “My good friend Kevin Ward directed ‘Taco!’ with Charles Robinson (Mac from ‘Night Court’) starring. “Taco!” is currently on the festival circuit and won an award at the SoCal Independent Film Festival. But it wasn’t until DeRosa began a collaboration with “The Air I Breathe” director and creator Jieho Lee that things kicked into high gear.

“I met Jieho when I was a programming assistant at the Florida Film Festival
in 2000,” DeRosa says. “We programmed Jieho’s short ‘A Nursery Tale.’Then after I (moved to L.A.,) my friends put on an evening of my one-act plays called ‘Brutally Yours.’ Jieho came, really enjoyed my dialogue, and asked me to collaborate on the script that would become his feature directorial debut.”

“The Air I Breathe” was shot entirely in Mexico and features four vignettes, each involving a character named after a specific emotion. “The storylines eventually intertwine, with a transcendent payoff,” says DeRosa. “(It’s) ‘Crash’ meets ‘Pulp Fiction’--a spiritual and romantic crime drama.” With his aptitude for shorts, DeRosa embraced Lee’s ensemble piece. “You have such a limited time with each character, it forces you to make every scene as rich and meaningful as possible.”

Once they had a script, Lee and DeRosa set about packaging. “There were times when it felt like we were the hottest project in town,” DeRosa recalls, “and then all of a sudden, our momentum would disappear. It was two years of pure craziness and unpredictability.” But once investor Nala Films came aboard and a start date was set, DeRosa found actors drawn to Lee’s vision. “Every actor that said yes increased our momentum.”

DeRosa is hoping “The Air I Breathe” will open doors for studio assignments. “I’d love nothing more than to collaborate with Jieho on a cool comic book adaptation.” And DeRosa has words of advice for other CS Open participants who might enjoy sipping tequila in Mexico with Sarah Michelle Gellar and Julie Delpy: “Tell stories that matter to you. You want whoever reads it to FEEL about it the way you feel about it. And make sure that every character in your script has their own unique voice and moments of silence as well. We must’ve done something right, considering our amazing cast.”

Check out THE AIR I BREATHE on

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