Steven Deeble on How Film Led Him to Writing


Steven Deeble started writing screenplays on an old Underwood in sixth grade. He went on to write, produce, and direct several short films, serve as Associate Producer on two independent feature films, and produce many industrial, training, and promotional films.

On Saturday, Aug. 25 at 11 a.m. in the Long Beach Main Library, 101 Pacific Ave., Deeble will conduct a free screenwriting workshop. (Email lauren.nguyen@lbpl.org to reserve your seat.) In advance, Long Beach Literary Arts Center board member Rachael Rifkin spoke to Deeble about his interest in writing and film.

Why did you want to give this workshop?
Film, to me, is the ultimate art form. It combines elements of all the other arts. I came to writing through film. The first pieces I really worked at as a writer were the scripts for the Super-8 films I made in school. And while I call myself a filmmaker, I am primarily a writer.
What takeaway do you hope people walk away with after attending your workshop?
That writing, regardless of whether it's screenwriting, short stories, novels, or poetry, is a craft and must be practiced. That it takes persistence to become a good writer. And that there are few things more satisfying than seeing a screenplay you've written produced as a film.
How did you get started with screenwriting? Why were you initially interested in it?
I wrote my first screenplay in sixth grade. It was for a horror film called The Blood in Dracula's Castle. We shot it on a Sony VTR with dialog. I was emulating the old films and TV shows I watched. I was interested in special effects first and foremost, but through my film studies became interested in film as an art form. When I started making films again as an adult I was influenced by German Expressionism, Italian Neo-realism, and the French New Wave.
Who are some of your influences? Who inspired/inspires you?
Kubrick and Hitchcock are my two favorite directors and they both had a lot to do with the screenplays for their films. My favorite film is Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. It combines a variety of elements that make it a great film, but that started with the screenplay. Originally the film was going to be serious, based on Peter George's novel "Red Alert." After Kubrick worked with George on early drafts, he realized that the material was too serious. At that point he decided to bring in satirist Terry Southern and, between the three of them, fashioned it into the wondrous black comedy we know and love.
Which script of yours do you like best?
I wrote a screenplay called Next in Line that I'm pretty proud of. It explores how we got information - news, gossip, myth, dreams - in the early days of the Vietnam War. It came from a research project I did on the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that included, among other sources, the Pentagon Papers. The script explores the impact of the war on a family in Southern California.
What are you working on now?
I took a break from writing screenplays to complete my first novel, "Persistence of Vision." Funny thing - everyone who reads it tells me it would make a great movie. I've spent the last year doing author events and writing workshops to promote it. I have a few ideas for new projects and am working out whether they're books or scripts.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I hope the workshop attendees enjoy the presentation. We're going to cover a lot of material in a short time. My main goal is to cover big- picture questions and to provide information about resources available to take what they learn in the workshop and continue learning the craft of screenwriting. (8/21/18)