David Scinto Interview
David Scinto, screenwriter of SEXY BEAST, 44 INCH CHEST and GANGSTER NO. 1, in conversation with Industrial Scripts back in 2010.
Going back to the beginning, did you always know you wanted to write?
I’ve always written things: poetry, songs, stories. I never really had the idea to write films until I decided to learn a bit more about film, which I did from a friend who was working for a film company, and an ex-girlfriend, who was gifted with an incredibly poetic sensibility. They helped me with my first script, more or less as editors, but I taught myself my own technique, and that was a good way to learn, to just throw myself into it.
And was it always screenwriting, or did you ever think you wanted to be an author, a poet, or a songwriter? When did you first think “I want to channel my efforts into writing scripts and films?”
Never consciously happened. When we learnt that we were going to be receiving more channels, Louis, my former writing partner, thought there might be some money in it, so we simply picked up a pen and gave it a blast. We just had a laugh kicking ideas around and seeing what landed.
So SEXY BEAST was your first produced script. How many scripts had you written prior to that? And how did you come to work with Louis Mellis?
I met Louis at a party. We were both actors. We discussed stuff. Films, theatre, art, music. From talking through ideas, we wrote a play, GANGSTER NO. 1,which was produced at the Almeida theatre in Islington. From that we got our first commission to write the screenplay. The final draft that we wrote of GANGSTER NO. 1 remains, in my opinion, one of the best scripts we ever wrote; there isn’t a single word of fat in it. We worked hard on it. Sadly, in other hands, GANGSTER NO. 1 was ruined. Bastardized. Mutated. The director of the film had very poor taste and judgement. Amateur. They should have given it to Nick Roeg. He wanted to do it. That would have been something. An event.
Do you see that commission as your first break as a writer? Did you have an agent at that point?
Initially, as the play went on, there was a big fuss being made of it, people suddenly got interested. Soon after we got an agent. Agents, like leaches, attach themselves to you. They’re a necessary evil. The commission followed.
How did the commission for GANGSTER NO. 1 segway into SEXY BEAST? What was the chain of events?
The experience with GANGSTER NO. 1 went bad. An actor was attached to the project who was simply ill-suited. Not that he was a bad actor, he just wasn’t right for the role. In fact very, very wrong for the role. So after much painful deliberation, we extricated ourselves from the deteriorating situation. Taking our names with us. It was a very difficult decision. A very difficult thing to do, not something I enjoyed. As it turned out the actor was removed anyway. SEXY BEAST was born, out of a reaction to all that chaos and soap opera. Initially it was an incomplete stage play, entitled, GANGSTER NO. 2, as we were writing a trilogy. We were naming our pieces like paintings, drawing a lot of inspiration from the art world. We used Francis Bacon as a source of reference for GANGSTER NO. 1, Hockney was mentioned for SEXY BEAST and Magritte for 44 INCH CHEST.