Peter Hoare, Writer of “Killing David Hasselhoff”
Peter Hoare is a comedic writer on the verge of a great career. His first feature film, Killing David Hasselhoff, has just wrapped production, allowing Peter to quit his day job and finally make the move to Los Angeles. When we speak to Peter he is in the process of packing up his Brooklyn apartment and looking forward to the 3,000-mile journey across the country, a road trip he plans to take by himself. “I’m psyched to be alone with my thoughts for four days,” Peter says. “It will be an opportunity to come up with some new material.”
Raised in Long Island, New York, Peter became interested in comedy in his teens. He hosted a cable access sketch comedy show in high school. “It wasn’t good,” he insists. “I’d rather set myself on fire than show it to you right now.”
Peter says he lost sight of writing throughout his 20s. He went to college to study general communications, and on graduation landed a job at MTV in New York City. “I started working at MTV because I knew it was at least somewhere in the realm of entertainment industry, and I knew I wanted to work in film or television, but I just didn’t have enough focus yet. But when I was about 26, I kind of had an epiphany where I was like, what the hell am I doing? I realized that I hated going into work.”
Peter’s work as a Producer for MTV Digital involved, in Peter’s words, putting clips of Snooki from Jersey Shore on people’s cell phones. “It was the least creatively fulfilling job ever. One day I just snapped and thought I should go back to what I originally always really wanted to do, which was write. That same week a friend said something that sparked an idea that would become Killing David Hasselhoff.”
Killing David Hasselhoff (now known as Killing Hasselhoff) is the story of a man who tries to win a celebrity death pool by hiring a hitman to kill the celebrity he has placed a bet on, which happens to be David Hasselhoff. Peter came up with the idea when a friend asked him if he would like to take part in a celebrity death pool. He said no, but made the flippant comment about the possibility someone might kill a celebrity just to win the money. Peter wrote the script in 2008, and it became not only his first feature film script, but also the first feature film he ever had produced.
“I never took a screenwriting class,” Peter says. “When I decided to do it I read as many screenplays as humanly possible, downloaded Final Draft, and taught myself how to write on the fly.” The screenplay won the Trackingb competition, a contest that included representation by a manager as the prize. Initially the script was called Killing John Stamos. That was before his current manager, Kailey Marsh, suggested he tailor the screenplay for David Hasselhoff, who has a large following overseas. The screenplay landed in the hands of David Hasselhoff himself, who loved it, and ultimately helped the film secure the funding it needed.
“This movie was made because David Hasselhoff is cool,” Peter says. “That’s the only reason.”
David Hasselhoff championed the project, and even flew himself to Abu Dhabi on his own to get financing. He also contributed to the script.
“All of Hasselhoff’s notes were funny as hell. He’s very deprecating. His role in the film is very similar to Neil Patrick Harris’ in Harold and Kumar. The comedy is him looking crazy, and he gets it. He was down for anything.”
The film has recently wrapped shooting and that success led to a number of opportunities for Peter. He is now repped by CAA, and WWE, which co-produced Hasselhoff, hired him to write another script. He also has another spec comedy, Everybody Loves Head, that is being prepped for production. Peter believes a fun title can be helpful in getting executives to read your screenplay.
“A title means a lot. My marketing ploy is to have a crazy sounding screenplay. It’s hard to get people to sit down and commit to reading something for an hour. Sometimes you’ve got to trick them into doing it.”
Peter likes to complete a new project every two to three months. “I always want to be writing something new. It’s smart. It gives you better odds. If you put all your eggs in one basket it’s very stupid. If I moved to LA after I wrote my first screenplay, I would have been destitute. Between 2008 and 2013 I didn’t make any real writing money. When I optioned Everybody Loves Head for $15,000, I thought I was rich. I was like, this is nuts! How did this happen? I was baffled by the fact I got paid. But that was in 2012, and I started writing it in 2007, so that’s years of zero income.”
In the meantime, Peter has plenty of projects on the horizon, as well as the excitement of settling in to his new home. “In New York, when you tell people you write screenplays, it’s kind of special. In LA it’s not. I was in a coffee shop in Silver Lake and I happened to glance at 7 opened laptops, and Final Draft was on all 7 of them.”
Peter is also pragmatic about his current success in Hollywood. He notes that Killing David Hasselhoff took five years from writing to production, with Everybody Loves Head gaining on that number. He recognizes screenwriting is a marathon rather than a sprint. “After you finish your first script, it’s so exciting and you feel so good about it. Then you start to get notes, and you can start to get discouraged, and that’s when people quit. People are going to give you shitty notes, and your first screenplay probably won’t be very good. You’re not going to succeed immediately. If you’re willing to crank out four or five screenplays before you get paid for one of them, then you should be good. If you’re expecting immediate gratification or instant success, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.”
Peter believes screenwriting is not for the faint at heart, and has this advice for upcoming writers. “You need to be really comfortable with failure. It’s the rule, not the exception. Everything fails. I succeeded on a whim, and I’m lucky, and I do love this and I was motivated, but you’ve gotta stay motivated. A lot of people finish their first screenplay, it doesn’t go anywhere, then they get discouraged and they stop. That’s crazy. The fact that my first screenplay was made into a movie, that almost never happens. Get really comfortable with rejection. The persistent get paid.”