Screenwriter reveals work to get DVD out 

David Koepp’s name is attached to some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters. The 44-year-old producer, screenwriter and director wrote "Spider-Man," "Mission: Impossible," "Jurassic Park," "Panic Room" and "War of the Worlds," among others. These days, he’s working on "Indiana Jones 4" (due out in 2008) and has signed on for "Spider-Man 4."

But what he’s really excited about "Apartment Zero" — a 1988 film he produced — which is out this week on DVD (for the first time) in its original, uncut format. The thriller is about a disturbed, reclusive movie buff, played by Colin Firth, who is forced to take in a boarder to help pay for his pricey apartment. Yet things and people aren’t what they seem. When a serial killer strikes the surrounding city of Buenos Aires, it sets off a frightening and suspicious chain of events for the roommates.

Here’s what Koepp said about the movie in a recent phone interview:

Q: Why do you think "Apartment Zero" has become such a classic movie?

A: I think it has a singularity about it. Martin [Donovan] is a great director. The film has a keen worldview. Just a lot of things came together.

Q: Why did it take so long to get "Apartment Zero" on DVD?

A: Well, what a story this is. Like many indie films, the copyright is owned by someone else.

In this case, it happened to be one of our investors who lived in the Channel Isles in England. Well, he died and left no heirs.

I spent years, really years, trying to straighten out the rights so that we could get it to DVD.

Finally I was able to break through and make it happen.

Q: Was your movie "Bad Influence" your first solo writing credited project?

A: Yes, it was. For "Apartment Zero" I was given writing and producing credit. But I’m really proud of "Apartment Zero" because it was the first thing I got made. It was Martin’s [Donovan] script. It was his movie and vision.

I was just 24 years old at the time and just entering the business. I was really young and naïve about the entire moviemaking process. All the money that I made from "Bad Influence" was poured into "Apartment Zero." And even though it was embraced by audiences, I didn’t feel that I had arrived.

But the first time you do something you love and get paid for it is an amazing feeling.

Q: You started your career wanting to be an actor. Now, with so many screenwriting credits, are you comfortable now in this skin?

A: I really do enjoy writing now more than anything. Acting is very hard work. It is out of my system now completely. I remember I wrote a part for myself in "The Lost World: Jurassic Park." I was this guy running down the street who gets eaten by a dinosaur. I looked fat in the movie. I told Steven Spielberg that I didn’t like my wardrobe and I didn’t want to be in the film.

Q: What are some movies you grew up watching and still enjoy today?

A: I’ve always loved the big Japanese monster movies. And of course everything that Alfred Hitchcock has made. It didn’t occur to me until I was about 18 years old that someone actually went into an office and put this together and had a good time doing it. It was then I was, like, `I got it. This is what I want to do.’ And I’ve been loving it ever since.

Contact Lana K. Wilson-Combs at www.N2Entertainment.net.

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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