The Nine-Year Overnight Success Story of the 'Olympus Has Fallen' Screenwriters
Working on the outside looking in when you are an aspiring screenwriter can be a grind. Certainly, there are moments when you may wonder if you are making progress toward your ultimate goal of getting a screenplay turned into a feature film. If you don't put in the hours on your writing, however, your craft will never rise to the level necessary to make a sale or get a greenlight. Those hours, in the case of screenwriter Creighton Rothenberger, started at 4 a.m. before his corporate job for several years until 2002 when he won the Academy Nicholl Fellowship. After conceiving Olympus Has Fallen in 2003 and writing it with his wife, Katrin Benedikt, this screenwriting duo spent another nine years writing specs before selling this particular script in 2012 and seeing it hit the big screen last weekend. Watch them tell their story below.
First, here's a trailer for Olympus Has Fallen, the first of two films to hit theatres this year with a Die Hard in the White House story:
Here are highlights from Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt's Academy Conversation:
Script Magazine also recently published an in-depth interview with both Rothenberger and Benedikt. While Olympus Has Fallen was an older spec that their newer representation asked the writing duo to dust off and update, Rothenberger and Benedikt point out in the written interview the importance of next idea:
CR: That’s one thing that we’ve learned as writers: no matter what you're working on right this second, always be thinking the next fresh original idea that you can write. As a writer, the most important thing that you have is a great idea. And then, if you are truly a writer with the ability to put it on the page, you’ll be able to execute and have someone interested in it down the line. But you constantly have to be generating fresh, original ideas. That’s the life-blood of any writer.
KB: … even for us, for example, Olympus Has Fallen would never have seen the light of day had we not moved out here in 2007 and wrote five other spec scripts at that time. One of which got the attention of our new rep. It was another script that we had written, on spec, for free while we were struggling.
For aspiring screenwriters here on NFS, we've talked about perseverance and what we can do to write our next screenplay. Hearing the long journey (and risks) that Rothenberger and Benedikt had to take along the way certainly inspires me to continue working on my craft every day, and reminds me that you never know which script will get someone's attention about your writing, nor which script will actually sell.
Make sure you check out the complete Script Magazine interview with Rothenberger and Benedikt to learn more about their story, and thanks to Academy Conversations for sharing their video (had to refrain from saying, "I'd like to thank the Academy," but I guess I just did).
What lessons from Rothenberger and Benedikt's journey to you find most valuable for your own path as a screenwriter? Let us know in the Comments.
- Academy Conversations: Creighton Rothenberger & Katrin Benedikt - YouTube
- 'Olympus Has Fallen' Screenwriters Creighton Rothenberger & Katrin Benedikt -- Script Magazine