Sunday, 6 April 2014

Everett DeRoche: 1946-2014

Everett DeRoche died on Tuesday after a three year battle with cancer. He was an American-born screenwriter who migrated to Australia in 1968 at the age of twenty-two. He worked as a journalist for the Queensland Health Education Council, but wanted to be a writer, so he wrote a spec script for the TV show Division Four. Nine months later he received a telegram inviting him to write for the show. From 1970-74 he was a staff writer at Crawford Productions mainly working on police shows, then he freelanced. In the late 70s and early 80s he established himself as the leading screenwriter of thrillers in Australia.

He is best known for his work in the thriller and horror genre, with such credits as Patrick (1978), Long Weekend (1978), Snapshot (1979), Harlequin (1980), Roadgames (1981) and Razorback (1984).

In 2012, SpectacularOptical published an interview with Everett. Here are a few quotes from that. 

I always wanted to be a writer but couldn’t think of a way to make a living from it other than journalism, which I disliked. It wasn’t until I got an offer from Crawford Productions in Melbourne that I began to see myself as a script writer. They took me on with no experience, training or even much education. It was earn while you learn – a golden period that will probably never happen again.
I had no training other than the very helpful advice given by generous veteran writers at Crawfords. It was trial and error, and it took me about three scripts to get up to speed.

In those days, your job wasn’t on the line if you stuffed up – unlike now! Because of this, I remain skeptical of scriptwriting courses. I don’t think it’s something you can learn — although you can learn to do it better. I think you either have the knack or you don’t.

At Crawfords, professional journalists, novelists and playrights would often fail, while a hair-dresser or an ex-cop or a schmuck like me would suddenly shine.
Long Weekend was a unique project because I began with no outline, no notes or research, very little idea as to where the story was going, and absolutely zero knowledge of screenplays. I simply started at page 1, scene 1, and made it up as I went. I had only a vague plan to write a kind of environmental horror story. My premise was that Mother Earth has her own auto-immune system, so when humans start behaving like cancer cells, She attacks.
It’s ironic that it took a Quentin Tarantino, 30 years later, to draw the world’s attention to what he describes as “this little Aussie masterpiece”. It wasn’t until the DVD was released just a few years ago that I realized – via the DVD’s “extras” – that the movie had done exceedingly well in Europe and that John Hargreaves had won a major award for his performance, beating out nominees like Richard Burton and Sir Lawrence Olivier!
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Millions of people across the world saw movies written by Everett DeRoche. Those pictures contributed to Australia's professional credibility as an emerging film industry. I had the privilege of directing one of his kids' mystery scripts, Frog Dreaming, starring Henry Thomas. The fact that it's still well regarded 30 years later is a tribute to the quality of his story telling. Rarely does the writer get the spotlight he deserves. ~Brian Trenchard-Smith











IMDb    Wikipedia
 

1 comment:

Kathy Smart said...

I remember going with my mother to the movies in the days before imdb. We thought a movie called Patrick would be about a man and perhaps have some romance in it. We kept hoping for a happy ending right till the end, jumping out of our chairs in terrified synchronicity as things kept getting worse and worse. Certainly no happy ending and no deep meaning that either of us could glean.