Interview with Screenwriter Jacobo Fe (ACE)

1. What is your screenplay about?

The true story of Sir Douglas Bader, a British pilot during WWII, who, after losing both of his legs, became a flying ace. The use of prosthesis was not an impediment to prove his value and wit; both when he was battling in the skies or as an inmate in the most impregnable Nazi prison. His rude and rebellious spirit coupled with his will power and energy resulted in adoration and frustration in equal measures with his allies and enemies. His exceptional merits and career made him an inspirational hero. A human hero.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

True story, Historical, WWII, True Story, Biopic, Diversity (Disabilities), Adventure, Action, Drama.

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

We are used to watching movies in which the main character, after suffering a dramatic accident, ends up discovering somehow a way to rebuild their life. The character is basically forced by the circumstances to find a new vital purpose, an inner reset in order to achieve happiness. Life has changed for them, forever, but they eventually still find a reason to be glad about their existence. The peculiarity of this screenplay is that it presents the story of a singular man who, after losing both of his legs, bypasses any limit and unfair treatment… and he is still able to get his original goal: flying in the greatest war ever seen. This story is a breath of hope to any person dealing with difficulties, a vivid proof of human’s willpower.

4. How would you describe this script in two words?

Personal overcoming.

5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

“Life is Beautiful” is my favorite movie and, consequently, I have watched several times. It’s the only script whose ending made me cry when reading it. Using a bold protagonist, this movie has an edgy cocktail of feelings, along with well-mixed comedy and drama in an artistic piece which shows a father’s love. It was also the favorite movie of my grandmother, Christiane Neuberger, whose father, a polyglot, smart, and noble man, was a victim of the Holocaust. Somehow, when I see the wit of Guido (Roberto Benigni), I imagine a reflection of my ancestor – his myth, I guess.

6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

The original idea of writing a screenplay about the figure of Douglas Bader came from one of my University professors in my homeland, Spain, whose name is Abelardo Fernández Bagüés. He´s not just a great mentor but a wise man with knowledge of politics, history, economic and military strategy. He is my friend too, so I heed his advice. When I was 22, he told me the story of Douglas Bader over a cup of coffee and recommended me to write a feature script about him when I felt ready. That´s what I did when I turned 26 after spending one whole year doing exhaustive research about such a controversial British pilot. Historical accuracy is fundamental in my work as a write. Once my study was completed, I wrote down the draft after six months of preparation.

7. How many stories have you written?

Stories? Hundreds! I wrote tens of comics and tales when during my childhood, made a short movie using LEGO pieces at the age of 5… But if we strictly refer to “solid” stories, let’s start counting from the publication of my historical novel, titled Perfectus Imperator, when I was 19. After that, since 2018 on an ongoing basis, as a graduate screenwriting student at UCLA, I have been developing several screenplays. So far, I have completed two feature scripts and three TV pilots. They have all been awarded in several contests. In January, I’m expecting to have completed two more screenplays: a feature, with my mentor Meredith Post, and a TV pilot for Joy Factory: Creative Content Studio, under the guidance and supervision of Ben Forman. I feel extremely grateful that Meredith and Ben believe in me enough to dedicate their time in my growth as an artist. Thanks to them, 2021 could be my launchpad as a professional screenwriter, my goal since I was 12.

8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

“High” by James Blunt and “War of my Life” by John Mayor. Those two hits bring my mind and heart back to many memories. They have a unique effect on my spirit since I associate them with both the beginning and ending of some of the events and situations that have defined my life and personality. Their lyrics hide my dreams, ambitions, and fears.

9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Douglas Bader, as any historical figure, is a contested man depending on the study materials. His manners are questionable, but his merits are doubtless. I tried to keep that balance in the script to offer a humanized vision of a hero. Douglas is rude, even arrogant, but gifted and with a golden heart inside. We don’t need to like every decision he takes. Just admire what he did and how he did it.

My knowledge about aviation and the RAF was limited, so I had to dedicate long hours to understand the world I wanted to create in an accurate way. During my research, I found certain incoherence in many archives together with anecdotes about Douglas’s life that had been purposely deleted when his story is commonly told to build his legend. It was hard to take certain decisions about what to include in my screenplay and what not. As a screenwriter, if I write about true events, I do it trying to show veracity. My imagination operates in a narrow frame made from pre-existing events. I am against the idea of building a fiction slightly based on real facts with the mere goal of amusing the audience. My aim is to use the 7th art to both educate and entertain, so I cannot simply distort reality at my convenience. In that vein, I try to respect history and someone’s legacy as much as possible.

10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I’m a professional model with international experience (published in 12+ countries). I wouldn’t define modeling as my passion. That narrow space is reserved for screenwriting. After all, I’m that weird guy who waits for his turn in a modeling casting reading a novel about Napoleon while the other candidates are taking hundreds of selfies to build traffic on their social media. Still, I enjoy modeling, and I try to do my best for any brand and client I work for. In connection with this aspect, fitness is a discipline I practice every day. It’s a healthy habit that spurs you to improve through practice and helps you get rid of stress.

Reading, drawing, traveling, history, or any other endeavor somehow related to filmmaking are also activities that I do with regularity. I love meeting diverse cultures and exotic places. They are the inspirations of the stories I tell. Life is tremendously exciting.

11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

At first, I must confess that I felt scared of submitting my script on the platform, but soon I realized of how convenient the platform is. You can basically submit your screenplay to any contest or festival in just a few minutes. The results of those competitions have been satisfactory as well, so I have no complains.
12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
My scripts face social concerns, so I felt that the story of a disabled person facing a hostile environment would fit well in a script competition about diversity. Also, I read very good critics about the competition. Those were the main reasons for me to apply for this script competition in particular.

Sincerely, this is one of the most precise feedback I have ever received. It’s very extensive and clear, addressing every single point of my screenplay with accuracy. It help me realize that there are certain points of the script that could be improved in order to polish my work.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

Sir Douglas Bader was a British pilot during WWII, who, after losing both of his legs, became a flying ace. The use of prosthesis was not an impediment to prove his value and wit; both when he was battling in the skies or as an inmate in the most inexpugnable Nazi prison. His rude and rebel spirit coupled with his will power and energy resulted in adoration and frustration in equal measures with his allies and enemies. His exceptional merits and career made him an inspirational hero. A human hero.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Bader: Shawn Devlin
Halahan: Sean Ballantyne
Coach: Matthew Camp

Writer Biography – Jacobo Fe

-UCLA graduate student in Screenwriting & TV Writing.

-The youngest Spanish author with a published historical novel (at the age of 19).

-Awarded with the top Artistic/Writing Scholarships from Spain: Faro Program/Fulbright Singular Award/MMF Prize (2017/18/19) after completing three study fields (Film, Business Admin. & Law) in five countries (Spain, Italy, India, Thailand & the U.S).

-Achieved the highest national scores in Universal History, Philosophy & Art History in exams from Access University.

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