‘Backdraft’ Scribe Pen Densham Says Success for Midwest Screenwriters is Just a Few Ideas Away


No doubt in a basement office in Cleveland or the back booth of a coffee shop in Pittsburgh or on an iPad in the middle of study hall in an Indianapolis high school, there’s an aspiring screenwriter punching keys and imagining great adventures that she hopes will someday grace the silver screen.

Not in Los Angeles, not in New York, but right here in the Midwest. Is she just chasing a dream? Not according to screenwriter Pen Densham, whose film credits include Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Backdraft, and Rocky II.

The truth is, any movie is about great ideas that stimulate human emotions, and if you can write films that mesh in scale with the new grass-roots producers that are evolving all over the country, there is a chance that someone in your city may be just as likely to produce your script as someone in Hollywood,” says Densham. “There is a new, technological gold-rush, as digital technology disrupts the entire old distribution system, and no one is quite certain where the new markets are.  But many people are willing to experiment to discover them.”

Densham recently published the book Riding the Alligator, his definitive guide to screenwriting that advises writers to filter their final product through their passion. We had a chance to chat with Densham via email to get his take on screenwriting outside of Hollywood.

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