Interview with Screenwriter Arthur Tiersky (WE ARE ALL DEAD)

1. What is your screenplay about?

It’s based on a terrific novella by Bruno Fischer. It’s about an icy professional crook, a typical noir protagonist, who is recruited by his old friend for a heist that goes very wrong when the young getaway driver is killed. His widow comes to collect his share of the money, and both our hero and his old friend quickly fall for her. Meanwhile, the police are hot on their trail, and the other gang members start mysteriously dying one by one. So it’s part love triangle, part heist flick, and part murder mystery.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It’s pure classic noir. Ideally, it gets made as a letter-perfect imitation of the classics from the ’40s and ’50s, in black and white, the whole deal.

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

Noir is such a great lost genre, beautiful to look at and utterly musical to listen to, when done right. Once in a while, a good neo-noir comes out, but the only ones who’ve really nailed recreating the genre are the Coen Brothers with the fantastic “The Man Who Wasn’t There”.

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

Classic noir

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

Stop Making Sense, Miller’s Crossing, Lost in America, The Exorcist, and It’s a Wonderful Life, I’d say. How’s that for a mix?

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

It was done very quickly, like a couple weeks at most, because it’s such a great story, I didn’t have to do much to embellish or modify it, so it was quite easy. The main two things I did were adding the framing device of Johnny telling the story to the preacher just before execution, and adding a second detective, because writing noirish banter between two wise-ass cops is about as fun as writing gets. Much of the dialogue is mine, actually; Fischer provides a good baseline to start from and mostly my job was to just flesh it out, have a lot more back-and-forth snappiness going on.

7. How many stories have you written?

Jeez. A bunch. I’ve been at this a very, very long time. More than 20? Let’s leave it at that.

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

Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” is up there. Joe Jackson’s “I’m the Man”. S&G’s “The Boxer” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Sinatra’s “That’s Life”. So many songs that get me going; I could be here all day.

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

Finishing it was easy, but it was years before I managed to track down the rights to Fischer’s daughter, who was a total sweetheart and basically just gave them to me for two years. Which we’re reaching the end of, so c’mon, people, let’s make this thing!

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

My family…which these days consists of my girlfriend and cats. Poker. Baking. Politics. Finding a good breakfast burrito.

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

It makes it very easy – arguably TOO easy – to enter contests and keep it all organized. I entered countless contests over the last few years and won or placed in over 100 with various scripts. It’s very gratifying to be appreciated, but then you gradually come to realize that so few of these provide much beyond bragging rights, and it’s just not worth all the entry fees. So I’ve gotten a lot more disciplined about what I enter now, but FF is definitely the most efficient way to go about finding and entering them.

12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

I like festivals that specialize in genres, so that appealed to me, but beyond that, I’ve had good experiences with WildSound in terms of feedback, scene reading, and the rest, so keep up the fine work!

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

When a robbery goes wrong and the getaway driver is killed, the gang’s two leaders become romantic rivals when the driver’s widow shows up to collect her share.


Narrator: Val Cole
Voice/McBride: Shawn Devlin
Johnny: Steve Rizzo


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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