BenDavid Grabinski Sells “Bravado” to Paramount
With the sale of his spec script, Bravado, screenwriter BenDavid Grabinski has become an overnight success…after 10 years. Here’s his story.
Growing up in the Midwest, Grabinski knew he wanted to be a film director at 10-years old. “I was really obsessed with movies, so I had this long-term plan that when I turned 18, I would just move to L.A. and become a director,” he said. But his parents had other plans for their son that included a college degree. Reluctantly, Grabinski agreed to study journalism at Iowa State. He liked the idea of journalism because he could write movie reviews and didn’t have to take any math classes. One summer, while Grabinski was working at Wendy’s, donating plasma and reading comic books, he decided he would just try writing a script for the heck of it. His buddies told him the script was good and he believed them, so he just kept writing.
After college, he moved to L.A. and passed one of his screenplays, Imaginary Barry, to his actor-roommate, who in turn showed it to a few people. Soon, the screenplay was optioned and Grabinski got a call from an agent at William Morris Endeavor who wanted to set up a meeting. The agent was keen on packaging his script with one of the actors represented by the agency and gave Grabinski a big speech about how making his film with this particular actor was going to be the best thing he could do for his career. Ironically, the actor passed on the script, but Grabinski is still with the agent from that meeting. It’s been 10 years.
Grabinski is thrilled to report that his latest spec script, Bravado, recently sold to Paramount. Producer Andrew Lazar (American Sniper), helped develop the script and is producing. Though wanting to keep the main plot points under wraps, Grabinski did say that Bravado is about a war veteran who comes back to be a cop and, “it spirals out from there.” The story also deals with gun issues related to the militarization of the police.
A huge fan of The Fast and the Furious movies, Grabinski is hoping to create a franchise that is tonally similar and also explores, “machismo and the family dynamic in the context of a heightened modern adventure movie. I like movies where stuff explodes, people destroy each other, there are car chases and twists and turns.” Though it sounds like a box office smash, Grabinski doesn’t write specifically for the marketplace. “You don’t know what the trends are going to be, you don’t know what the marketplace is going to be tomorrow, you just have to work really hard, write a lot, take criticism and be patient.”
Grabinski’s advice to young writers is not to try to emulate someone else’s career path. “Overnight success does happen, but it’s usually a manufactured narrative for someone’s PR. Some things take longer and some things take shorter and I think my main advice is, you have no control over anything except your own work. I’ve been working as a screenwriter for 10 years and I would have liked to have more movies made by this point, but at the same time, my writing has really improved and I understand the business a lot more. I feel a lot more confident in my writing and in my ability. I think that it’s all about staying positive.”
Most importantly, Grabinski says to never stop writing specs. “It’s very easy to forget that, but just keep writing specs as long as you have ideas.”
Bravado was written on Final Draft.
Screenwriter / Film Critic
Shanee Edwards graduated from UCLA Film School with an MFA in Screenwriting and is currently the film critic for SheKnows.com. She recently won the Next MacGyver television writing competition to create a TV show about a female engineer. Her pilot, Ada and the Machine, is currently in development with America Ferrera’s Take Fountain Productions. You can follow her on Twitter: @ShaneeEdwards.