David Koepp: “We’re all very inspired by Steven Spielberg, but nobody can imitate him. That’s his particular gift”

In case you might ask yourself who is the most successful Hollywood screenwriter of all time, considering the box office receipts of the films he worked on, don’t look any further. Chances are you never heard of him though, but yet, here he is. David Koepp (b. 1963) is his name; over the years, he became a long-time collaborator of Steven Spielberg, writing four screenplays for him. Meanwhile, he also wrote three scripts for Ron Howard and three for Brian De Palma. But don’t kid yourself: no matter how impressive that is, it’s really just the tip of the iceberg, as his entire body of work so far is all the more stunning, surprising and simply splendid.

He was born and raised in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, and made his first feature film “Apartment Zero” (1988) with Martin Donovan after attending film school at UCLA. By the time he was thirty, he was said to earn at least a million dollars a script.

He first got noticed at age twenty-seven with his breakthrough film “Death Becomes Her” (1992) starring Meryl Streep and Bruce Willis, and since then he took his audience on a remarkable journey, from the thrills in “Jurassic Park” (1993) to the breathtaking adventures of the famed archaeologist in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (2008), and from Brian De Palma’s solid action yarn “Mission: Impossible” (1996) to David Fincher’s highly suspenseful “Panic Room” (2002). Those were all scripted, co-scripted and / or adapted by Mr. Koepp. But he’s just as inspiring when he writes and directs Ricky Gervais and Téa Leoni in his precious and little romantic fantasy-comedy masterpiece “Ghost Town” (2008), making Mr. Koepp an absolute favorite of mine.

Screenwriter David Koepp with Steven Spielberg, while making “Jurassic Park” (1993) a worldwide phenomenon. Photograph: Amblin Entertainment

The films he penned up until now grossed over $ 2.5 billion in the U.S. alone, and their cumulative worldwide gross exceeds a staggering $ 6.4 billion. So, being the most bankable, the most successful screenwriter ever, does it also make him the best? Is Mr. Koepp better, wittier or more versatile than Billy Wilder, Preston Sturges, Frances Marion, Anita Loos, Nora Ephron, Robert Towne, Quentin Tarantino, Oliver Stone, Francis Ford Coppola, Orson Welles, Charlie Chaplin, Akira Kurosawa, or the Coen, Taviani and Dardenne brothers? I dare not answer that question, so I gladly pass it on to Fred Zinnemann, another favorite filmmaker I always admired, who told me back in 1993: “Personally I don’t believe that there’s ever anything that’s the best, it‘s a very façade kind of a thing to say this is the best. How can you say that Beethoven is better than Mozart?” I can perfectly live with that, but I do think, as in Mr. Koepp’s case, when you’re always working with the very best, you simply are one of the very best.

I got to meet him during his visit to Brussels a couple of days ago. Late in the afternoon, I sat down with this colorful and spontaneous man with a wonderful sense of humor on a one-on-one setting in the restaurant of the hotel he was staying at, to talk about his craft, his career and his films. ‘Film Talk…! That’s right up our alley!’ he said with a big smile on his face after I had given him my business card.

Later that day he went to the Brussels Cinematek for a masterclass (a conversation with University professor Anke Brouwers), an event organized in collaboration with Cinea. The masterclass was followed by a Q & A with the audience, and a screening of “War of the Worlds” (2005) at the Cinematek’s Ledoux theater, a film he scripted for Steven Spielberg.

This article is my own interview with Mr. Koepp, but it also includes a number of comments, thoughts and topics discussed during the masterclass and the Q & A, and it has been slightly edited and condensed for clarity.

David Koepp: “When Steven Spielberg and I are making up a story, we can sort of smell the popcorn.” Photograph: Leo Verswijver

Mr. Koepp, can you tell me how you start working on a new screenplay? Where do you get your ideas?

If it’s an original work, ideas can come from anywhere. The trick is that you have to learn to respect your ideas, no matter how fleeting. You just write them down. I had an idea for something I’m working on now, I was walking down the street one day and saw a young 24-year-old guy in a security guard uniform, it was a hot morning, he was on his way to work, and you could tell he just hated his job, or at least he was unhappy about going to work. I thought of a whole story about that person as I saw him on the street. So ideas can come from any corner. I did a movie called “Panic Room” [2002] after I had read an article in the newspaper about people who make these rooms in their houses to be safe from intruders, and then a few years later I made this movie. So there’s no telling: you just try to be sensitive to ideas as they float around you.

When you write your first draft, is the structure your main concern, or do you tend to focus more on the development of your characters?

They sort of go together. The first stage for me is always research. It involves reading things or you’re going to meet people – meeting people is really the best, because you see faces and you hear about their lives in addition for the things you’re interested in for the research. So the characters start to grow. The events of the story take place because of who the characters are. Sometimes you have a situation that you’re really trying to push your character through, you just want them to do that because that’s the idea of the movie. But you kind of make it all up as you go along, also with little bits of your own life or people you met, and it becomes hard to separate what happened to you, what you observed and what you made up. It sort of intermingles.

When did you first realize that you were a born storyteller?

I always liked writing stories. When I was twelve years old, I used to write stories, so for me it was a pretty natural thing from early on. But when I was in college and early University, I always wanted to be an actor. I was in a lot of plays and did a lot of acting, until I realized that when you’re an actor, someone always has to cast you. You have to be given a part. And when you’re a writer, you don’t need anyone’s permission. You can just start typing. So halfway through University, I shifted my focus to writing and stayed there ever since.

You made your first film “Apartment Zero” at age twenty-four, which is very unusual. I suppose there was never a period in your life when you went from a struggling writer to a successful screenwriter?

I was very lucky, because I started to get movies made very quickly. I did work hard, but I was also very lucky, so it’s a combination of work and luck, that’s what you need. I also met some people who were formative at the right time. That was fortunate. The first couple of movies I made were independent movies which didn’t make money, in fact I invested money: I was paying off “Apartment Zero” for two years. We started it without all of our financing, we were young and did anything to make the movie. Pretty much everything that I did for the next few years went to “Apartment Zero.” But then things changed when I started working at Universal. I had written the script of another independent movie, “Bad Influence” [1990], they liked it and hired me as a sort of overall deal, and my first big break was “Death Becomes Her” [1992] which was the first studio movie that I made. And after “Jurassic Park” [1993], everything changed substantially.

Do you also have the ambition to write something that reflects today’s society?

I find it’s hard to write directly about something, it has to come out almost indirectly. The movie that is screening tonight, “War of the Worlds,” is within a canvas that is very broad and obviously it’s a story that has been around for many years ever since H.G. Wells wrote it. When you see the movie, there are some very overt references to both 9/11 and more concretely the war in Irak, because we made it in 2005, with very obvious references to the foolishness of occupying countries that aren’t yours. If I would ever write directly about the state of things… I am a little more internal, I write directly about things that I am feeling in my own life. The first movie I directed, “The Trigger Effect” [1996], was about my own fears of young fatherhood, a marriage going poorly at the time, that all comes directly from my own life.

“War of the Worlds” was a surprising film: it was an incredible blockbuster, but it was also a simple story of a father who’s not doing very well, who’s trying to take care of his family, and you don’t get to see big monuments being destroyed. Was that intentional?

Yes, very intentional. Steven and I had worked together a few times at that point and he had been trying to figure out a script for “War of the Worlds” with another writer, but that wasn’t working out. A point of view is very important for any filmmaker, but when it is too broad, I feel on shaky ground. I can’t possibly know how all these people are feeling and there are too many choices to make in the world. So all I can think about is, what do I see and feel, and what does this character see and feel? That makes the story for me infinitely more tellable, because I’m always looking for the container that the movie is going to go in. So I went to Steven to talk about it. Certainly, there had been a number of alien invasion movies, so we didn’t want to make any of those. We made a list of things we didn’t want to see in this movie, and things that we had seen too many times before. That was a lot of fun: no generals with big maps in rooms, no famous monuments being destroyed, no space ships. Also, one of the problems working with Steven Spielberg, he has made so many iconic movies and images, you can’t do any of them. I remember writing a scene I loved, it was for the opening of “Jurassic Park,” and he said, ‘It’s a great scene, but I have done that in “Jaws.”’ That’s right, he did! So I had to take that out, and when we were preparing “War of the Worlds,” we also had to avoid all of his “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” [1977] imagery. Then, the idea we had, was to restrict everything to the point of view of the main character. We could only see what he saw and it was therefore a very personal story. That’s what we did, so it was a very conscious choice.

In some of your films like “Panic Room” [2002] or “Secret Window” [2004] your characters have certain restrictions in time and in place. Do you find this confinement appealing?

It makes the story easier to tell, because I have created a box in which I can present the story. “Panic Room” is the obvious extreme of that. The idea of that movie was that it would take place entirely in the house, there was no going outside the house, and it would only have little dialogue. I succeeded to varying degrees. We did go outside the house at David Fincher’s insistence for the first five pages or so and there is more dialogue than I had wanted, but you know, the world is too big. Some filmmakers thrive on that, David Lean liked the big open space, while I like something tight. Wait till you’ll see the one I’m shooting in October, that’s really a claustrophobic, scary movie. But to me, it’s a marital drama basically, starring Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfried. They play a married couple, she’s way too young for him, it’s a huge mistake and they don’t trust each other. That sounds interesting to me, and I would see that movie. It’s budgeted at $ 5 million – that’s not $ 30 million, but I don’t need that. The $ 5 million they’re giving me is still a lot of money on the earth.

Does it affect your work as screenwriter if you know it will be directing by a filmmaker you’ve already worked with, like Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard or Brian De Palma?

Consciously or not, you start writing towards the director once you know who will direct the movie. You do hear his voice in your head, without question, but I don’t mind if it’s a voice that I like – I like Spielberg’s voice. I’ve had very good relationships with Steven, Ron Howard and Brian De Palma, we get along very well. And when I write for myself, I tend to do smaller movies, a little bit more personal and more intimate, and I mix up genres quite a bit with varying degrees of success. Sometimes they work, although I’ve also had movies that failed quite completely. But I can live with those because they were my mistakes. They were my choices, they were me all the way, I know why I made them, I know what I meant, and how close to it I got.

Do you have a specific working method with Steven Spielberg, Brian De Palma or Ron Howard?

It always varies, based on the personality of the director and your relationship with him. Steven doesn’t like to share a cut of his film, he doesn’t preview or show it. He and [editor] Michael Kahn decide what they want in the movie, while Ron Howard wants a lot of input and then he decides whether he agrees with it. He shows his films to a number of audiences and he wants to know what everybody thinks, like the screenwriter, producer,… In the end, all the decisions are his, but he wants that input.

Before you reached the top, what was the best advice anyone had ever given you in terms of screenwriting?

The best advice was just to type, you know, to write: the only way you learn anything is by doing it. Writing, it’s something you have to press on. I was talking to a film student yesterday, she said she had a perfectly good idea for a story, not sure if it’s for a book or a movie, and I asked her, ‘Have you started writing?’ And she said, ‘No, not yet.’ I told her, ‘You have to go home today, write one page of it as a movie, and one page as a book. By the end of the night, you’ll know which one it is. But you have to go home and do it today. Don’t wait.’ The only progress you make is by doing it, not by talking about it. And it always takes a few tries. The first script that I got made, was my sixth script – which is still pretty quick. But it’s six screenplays. I think that is what I picked up in film school when I was in UCLA. It’s all about making your film: write this, shoot that, and edit. It’s all very specific and goal-directed.

Welcome to the world of Jurassic Park, with Richard Attenborough and Laura Dern

What’s the secret of the chemistry between you and Steven Spielberg?

I don’t know. It just goes well and it’s a lot of fun. Obviously he’s the greatest filmmaker we’ve ever had. When we’re making up a story, we can sort of smell the popcorn. It clicks, and I don’t know why. Sometimes it doesn’t, our ideas will differ or we pursue something a little bit but it won’t go as far as we’d like, and it falls apart. But when it works, it really works. I think what’s truly special about Steven, is that there is just an absolutely uncynical love of storytelling. That makes it so wonderful to work together. And he doesn’t surround himself with a lot of other people. When you work together, there’s just the two of you and you only have each other to please. When they’re making big movies, Hollywood is famous for lots of layers of people, opinions, different people to please, and you just don’t face that with Steven.

Is there anything you learned from him when you watched him at work on the set?

Yes, but it’s dangerous. I mean, you almost learn more from watching bad film directing than from watching his brilliant film directing. And you can’t do what he does. There have been several times when I watched him compose a mastershot, and I know he’s making it up of the top of his head at the moment, it’s like a beautiful camera move covering a couple of pages of dialogue, the shot falls apart and recomposes, actors taking over each other’s close-ups, you know, really complicated beautiful shot-making – and I can watch that, but I can’t really learn from it because I can’t do that. Nobody can do that, only he can do that. Sometimes I feel a little bit like Salieri, trying to take notes [laughs]. So we’re all very inspired by him, but nobody can imitate him. That’s his particular gift.

Are there any films or other filmmakers who have influenced or inspired you as well?

As far as directors are concerned, for the record, Steven Spielberg [laughs]. You can’t really be a Hollywood screenwriter or filmmaker of my generation and not have been heavily and significantly influenced by him. But for me, the influence also came before that: my mother is a great movie fan and when I was a kid, she would not let me stay up late when a good movie was on TV, she would tell me I had to stay up late. I remember when I was about ten years old, the famous Hitchcock film “Notorious” [1946] was on TV. So I was enthralled by the fact that my mother made me stay up late to watch television, which I thought was fantastic. I was enthralled by the experience, because my mother and I were movie buddies, I loved that. And I was enthralled by Mr. Hitchcock and what he did. So my really formative memories of movies are in the cinema, but they’re also at home in front of the television, because in those days, you watched whatever was on, and whatever you could find. There were only a couple of channels. I remember Channel 12 used to show on Friday night Sherlock Holmes movies from the 1930s and 1940s, and I loved those. So in time you’d get a wide breadth of film knowledge, because you watched what was there. Then later, as a teenager, the Steven Spielberg and George Lucas movies came along, and of course I was the perfect audience for them: they were unlike any movie experiences we ever had before. But I was also affected profoundly by “Altered States” [1980], I think I was seventeen when that came out, and I remember being overwhelmed by “Body Heat” [1981] a little bit later. Those are just your prime receiving years when you’re, let’s say, between fourteen and twenty-four: whatever you’re absorbing then forms your aesthetics in a way that’s going to stay for the rest of your life.

Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in Alfred Hitchcock’s screen classic “Notorious” (1946)

What about screenwriters? Did you have any favorites in that department?

That’s harder, because our work is interim. A script is a piece of a finished work and then it’s hard to tell what is the screenwriter and what is the director. One of the first scripts I remember reading was Lawrence Kasdan’s “Body Heat”: a beautiful script, very clear, very concise. But scripts are difficult documents, and they’re kind of hard to read. You also have the obvious sort of auteur screenwriters like Paddy Chayefsky, but even so you can’t separate their work from the directors quite as well as you’d like to, except maybe when he did “The Goddess” [1958] that he produced himself and paid for it, clearly that was his ‘making,’ but you can’t talk about Chayefsky without talking about Sidney Lumet or the other great directors he worked with.

Has your point of view as a screenwriter changed since you began working as a film director?

Yes, when you direct, it changes the way you wrote it. They are different jobs, usually you have one hat on, then you switch and put the other hat on, but it can help if you appreciate the value of a visual. A screenwriter too often will fall back on dialogue which is a great tool, but it’s by no means the only tool or the strongest tool in your toolbox. A visual always tells your story and you appreciate that once you turn the camera on and start to photograph. Then you truly realize the value of a visual.

David Koepp, the most bankable and successful Hollywood screenwriter in film history. Photograh: Leo Verswijver

Where or when does your work as a screenwriter end? Does it stop when you have finished the screenplay, or do you stay on board during shooting and editing?

I used to go to the set during shooting, but I don’t really like to, because I’ve written it, I’ve seen it clearly in my mind a certain way, the director is invariably doing it his way, and to me that feels wrong: in my mind, the door was on the left, and on the set, it’s on the right. See what I mean? So my presence isn’t really helpful. Another problem when you’re the screenwriter and you go to the set, is when the actors see you, they either feel your presence and they think you’re checking, ‘Am I saying every word?’ Or, worse, they see you and they want to rewrite, ‘Oh, we’ll change it!’ [Laughs]. So I tend to not go during shooting. If the relationship with the director is good, I do like to come back in editing, and if they’ll let me see a cut, I’ll comment. Some directors will, some won’t.

You wrote the screenplays for several blockbusters, but with the exception of “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” [1997], you didn’t write the sequels. Why was that?

It’s really hard for me to go back and do it again, and when I wrote “The Lost World,” I felt like I ran out of steam halfway through because I used all my best ideas the first time. When I see writers doing two or three sequels, I ask myself, ‘How are they doing that? Where is it coming from that they can pull up new ideas for that all the time?’ It’s like people who have been doing television shows for decades. I find it hard, and also I have so many ideas that I like to move on to something completely different. I always like to change genres and styles, then you can find some freshness.

Do you have a favourite time and place to write your screenplays?

I seem to do best from late afternoon till early evening, then it comes together, from four-thirty till six-thirty. But I don’t know why, it would be very convenient if mornings worked well. I know Stephen King writes every day from 09:00 AM to 01:00 PM, that’s it! And boy, I wish I could do that, then you’re kind of free for the rest of the day. And where I write my scripts, it can be anywhere, really. The only thing is, once that I start, I need to stay in that spot. I can’t take the script around with me to different hotels. Once I start it in one place, I need to finish it in that place for reasons that I don’t understand.

When you’re directing, do you have total autonomy on the set?

Yes, people usually let the director direct. After you have cut the film, then everybody has opinions about what’s funny and what’s not, what should be shorter or longer. A lot depends on your test screenings. And there’s nothing wrong with that, we make movies for audiences, but while the test audience can tell us what to do, we still have the responsibility to make the film ourselves.

British filmmaker Guy Hamilton once told me, ‘The worst nightmare for a filmmaker is when you’re editing your film, you see a sequence that you never quite solved the way you hoped to while you were shooting it, and suddenly it strikes what you should have done.’ Does that sound familiar to you?

It happens almost on a daily basis. Regret is an enormous part of filmmaking. I think it was Francis Ford Coppola who said, ‘If you get twenty-five percent of what you have in your head, that’s a good day.’ While you’re shooting, you’re facing bad weather, New York City [laughs]… But in the editing room, you’re done with all that: bad weather won’t affect you anymore and all the footage is captured. Every day in the editing room, the film looks the worst; every day after that, it is somewhat better. In a way editing is like writing: it’s controllable again.

How do you manage to switch so easily from big-budget blockbusters to smaller and more intimate films like “Ghost Town” [2008] ?

I try hard to make changes. If you have some success, Hollywood will always encourage you to more of that. That’s their job, ‘Do another one of those.’ But you also need to try different things and push yourself: try a comedy, try an action film, or a thriller. The one thing all my movies have in common, is that I would like to see all of them in a movie theater. They have to pass the test of what I have to pay money for, sit down and watch it in a movie theater. And I like all different kinds of movies, so I also like to make all kinds of movies. So far, I’ve been able to. We’ll see, they’ll stop me someday, but not yet [laughs].

Ricky Gervais and Téa Leoni in David Koepp’s romantic comedy “Ghost Town” (2008)

Is there any particular image or line that you used in one of your movies, that you’re really happy about?

I like the last two lines of “Ghost Town.” Ricky Gervais plays a very unpleasant dentist who turns into a nice person, and Téa Leoni is his unlikely love interest. At the end of the movie, she has a terrible toothache, she’s standing in the doorway of his office and says, ‘It hurts when I smile.’ And he says, ‘I can fix that for you.’ I thought that was really pretty, really lovely, and in this romantic comedy it said a lot about pain and love, because the film is about loss, pain, finding love, and it’s full of hope. I have a particular fondness for that.

Brussels (Belgium)
May 18, 2018

FILMS

APARTMENT ZERO (1988) DIR Martin Donovan PROD David Koepp, Martin Donovan SCR David Koepp, Martin Donovan (story by Martin Donovan) CAM Miguel Rodríguez ED Conrad M. Gonzales MUS Elia Cmiral CAST Hart Bochner, Colin Firth, Dora Bryan, Liz Smith, Fabrizio Bentivoglio, James Telfer, Mirella D’Angelo

WHY ME? (1990) DIR Gene Quintano PROD Marjorie Israël SCR Leonard Maas, Jr. [David Koepp], Donald E. Westlake (book by Donald E. Westlake) CAM Peter Deming ED Alan Balsam MUS Phil Marshall CAST Christopher Lambert, Kim Geist, Christopher Lloyd, J.T. Walsh, Gregory Millar, Wendel Meldrum, Michael J. Pollard, John Hancock

DARK ANGEL (1990) DIR Craig R. Baxley PROD Jeff Young SCR Leonard Maas, Jr. [David Koepp], Jonathan Tydor CAM Mark Irwin ED Mark Helfrich MUS Jan Hammer CAST Dolph Lundgren, Brian Benben, Betsy Brantley, Matthias Hues, Jay Bilas, Jim Haynie, David Ackroyd, Michael J. Pollard

BAD INFLUENCE (1990) DIR Curtis Hanson PROD Steve Tisch SCR David Koepp CAM Robert Elswit ED Bonnie Koehler MUS Trevor Jones CAST Rob Lowe, James Spader, Lisa Zane, Marcia Cross, Rosalyn Landor, Tony Maggio, Palmer Lee Todd

TOY SOLDIERS (1991) DIR Daniel Petrie Jr. PROD Jack E. Freedman, Wayne S. Williams SCR David Koepp, Daniel Petrie Jr. (novel by William P. Kennedy) CAM Thomas Burstyn ED Michael Kahn MUS Robert Folk CAST Sean Astin, Wil Wheaton, Keith Coogan, Andrew Divoff, R. Lee Ermey, Mason Adams, Denholm Elliott, Louis Gossett Jr.

DEATH BECOMES HER (1992) DIR Robert Zemeckis PROD Robert Zemeckis, Steve Starkey SCR David Koepp, Martin Donovan CAM Dean Cundey ED Arthur Schmidt MUS Alan Silvestri (lyrics song ‘Me’ by David Koepp) CAST Meryl Streep, Bruce Willis, Goldie Hawn, Isabella Rossellini, Ian Ogilvy, Adam Storke, Nancy Fish, Alaina Reed-Hall, Michelle Johnson, Sydney Pollack

JURASSIC PARK (1993) DIR Steven Spielberg PROD Kathleen Kennedy, Gerald R. Molen SCR David Koepp, Michael Crichton (novel by Michael Crichton) CAM Dean Cundey ED Michael Kahn MUS John Williams CAST Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, BD Wong, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards, Samuel L. Jackson, Wayne Knight

CARLITO’S WAY (1993) DIR Brian De Palma PROD Martin Bregman, Willi Bär SCR David Koepp (novels by Edwin Torres) CAM Stephen H. Burum ED Kristina Boden, Bill Pankow MUS Patrick Doyle CAST Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Penelope Ann Miller, John Leguizamo, Ingrid Rogers, Luis Guzmán, James Rebhorn, Joseph Siravo, Viggo Mortensen, Paul Mazursky

THE PAPER (1994) DIR Ron Howard PROD Brian Grazer, Frederick Zollo CO-PROD David Koepp SCR David Koepp, Stephen Koepp CAM John Seale ED Daniel P. Hanley, Mike Hill MUS Randy Newman CAST Michael Keaton, Glenn Close, Marisa Tomei, Randy Quaid, Robert Duvall, Jason Robards, Jason Alexander, Spalding Gray, Catherine O’Hara, Clint Howard

THE SHADOW (1994) DIR Russell Mulcahy PROD Martin Bregman, Michael Bregman, Willi Bär SCR David Koepp (character The Shadow from stories by Walter B. Gibson) CAM Stephen H. Burum ED Peter Honess MUS Jerry Goldsmith CAST Alec Baldwin, John Lone, Penelope Ann Miller, Peter Boyle, Ian McKellen, Tim Curry, Jonathan Winters

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE (1996) DIR Brian De Palma PROD Tom Cruise, Paula Wagner SCR David Koepp, Robert Towne (story by David Koepp, Steven Zaillian; TV series created by Bruce Geller) CAM Stephen H. Burum ED Paul Hirsch MUS Danny Elfman CAST Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Emmanuelle Béart, Henry Czerny, Jean Reno, Ving Rhames, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vanessa Redgrave, Ingeborga Dapkunaite

THE TRIGGER EFFECT (1996) DIR David Koepp PROD Michael Grillo SCR David Koepp (TV mini-series CONNECTIONS [1978] by James Burke) CAM Newton Thomas Sigel ED Jill Savitt MUS James Newton Howard CAST Kyle MacLachlan, Elisabeth Shue, Dermot Mulroney, Richard T. Jones, Bill Smitrovich, Michael Rooker, Tori Kristiansen

THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK (1997) DIR Steven Spielberg SECOND UNIT DIR David Koepp PROD Gerald R. Molen, Colin Wilson SCR David Koepp (novel by Michael Crichton) CAM Janusz Kaminski ED Michael Kahn MUS John Williams CAST Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Pete Postlethwaite, Arliss Howard, Richard Attenborough, Vince Vaughn, Vanessa Chester, Peter Stormare, David Koepp, Steven Spielberg

SNAKE EYES (1998) DIR – PROD Brian De Palma SCR David Koepp (story by David Koepp, Brian De Palma) CAM Stephen H. Burum ED Bill Pankow MUS Ryuichi Sakamoto CAST Nicolas Cage, Gary Sinise, John Heard, Carla Gugino, Stan Shaw, Kevin Dunn, Michael Rispoli, Joel Fabiani, Luis Guzmán

STIR OF ECHOES (1999) DIR David Koepp PROD Judy Hofflund, Gavin Polone SCR David Koepp (novel by Richard Matheson) CAM Fred Murphy ED Jill Savitt MUS James Newton Howard CAST Kevin Bacon, Zachary David Cope, Kathryn Erbe, Illeana Douglas, Kevin Dunn, Conor O’Farrell, Lusia Strus, Stephen Eugene Walker, Mary Kay Cook

PANIC ROOM (2002) DIR David Fincher PROD David Koepp, Gavin Polone, Judy Hofflund SCR David Koepp CAM Conrad W. Hall, Darius Khodji ED James Haygood, Angus Wall MUS Howard Shore CAST Jodie Foster, Kristen Stewart, Forest Whitaker, Dwight Yoakam, Jared Leto, Patrick Bauchau, Ann Magnuson, Ian Buchanan, Nicole Kidman (voice only)

SPIDER-MAN (2002) DIR Sam Raimi PROD Laura Ziskin, Ian Bryce SCR David Koepp (Marvel comic book by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko) CAM Don Burgess ED Arthur Coburn, Bob Murawski MUS Danny Elfman CAST Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Willem Dafoe, James Franco, Cliff Robertson, Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons, Joe Manganiello, Octavia Spencer

BIG TROUBLE (2002) DIR Barry Sonnenfeld PROD Barry Sonnenfeld, Tom Jacobson, Barry Josephson SCR Robert Ramsey, Matthew Stone (novel by Dave Barry) CAM Greg Gardiner ED Steven Weisberg MUS James Newton Howard CAST Tim Allen, Rene Russo, Stanley Tucci, Zooey Deschanel, Ben Foster, Sofia Vergara, Tom Sizemore, Johnny Knoxville, Dennis Farina, Jason Lee, Barry Sonnenfeld, David Koepp

SECRET WINDOW (2004) DIR David Koepp PROD Gavin Polone SCR David Koepp (novel by Stephen King) CAM Fred Murphy ED Jill Savitt MUS Philip Glass, Geoff Zanelli CAST Johnny Depp, Maria Bello, John Turturro, Timothy Hutton, Charles S. Dutton, Len Cariou, Joan Heney, John Dunn-Hill

WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005) DIR Steven Spielberg PROD Kathleen Kennedy, Colin Wilson SCR David Koepp, Josh Friedman (novel by H.G. Wells) CAM Janusz Kaminski ED Michael Kahn MUS John Williams CAST Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Miranda Otto, Tim Robbins, Justin Chatwin, Rick Gonzales, Yul Vazquez, Lenny Venito, Lisa Ann Walter, Ann Robinson, Gene Barry

ZATHURA: A SPACE ADVENTURE (2005) DIR Jon Favreau PROD William Teitler, Michael De Luca, Scott Kroopf SCR David Koepp, John Kamps (book by Chris Van Allsburg) CAM Guillermo Navarro ED Dan Lebental MUS John Debney CAST Josh Hutcherson, Jonah Bobo, Dax Shepard, Kristen Stewart, Tim Robbins, Frank Oz, John Alexander, Derek Mears, Douglas Tait

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (2008) DIR Steven Spielberg PROD Frank Marshall SCR David Koepp (story by George Lucas, Jeff Nathanson; characters created by George Lucas, Philip Kaufman) CAM Janusz Kaminski ED Michael Kahn MUS John Williams CAST Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Shia LaBeouf, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent, Igor Jijikine, Dimitri Diatchenko, Ilia Volok, Sasha Spielberg

GHOST TOWN (2008) DIR David Koepp PROD Gavin Polone SCR David Koepp, John Kamps CAM Fred Murphy ED Sam Seig MUS Geoff Zanelli CAST Ricky Gervais, Téa Leoni, Greg Kinnear, Billy Campbell, Kristen Wiig, Dane Ivey, Aasif Mandvi, Alan Ruck, Brian d’Arcy James

ANGELS & DEMONS (2009) DIR Ron Howard PROD Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, John Calley SCR David Koepp, Akiva Goldsman (novel by Dan Brown) CAM Salvatore Totino ED Daniel P. Hanley, Mike Hill MUS Hans Zimmer CAST Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgård, Pierfrancesco Favino, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Thure Lindhart

THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD (2011, animated) DIR Elliot M. Bour PROD Richard Rich SCR David Koepp, John Kamps, Elana Lesser, Cliff Ruby (story by David Koepp, John Kamps; book by Watty Piper) ED Joe Campana MUS Heitor Pereira CAST (voice only) Jodi Benson, Corbin Bleu, Jaimie Lee Curtis, Whoopi Goldberg, Khamani Griffin, Suzy Nakamura, Ray Porter, Michael S. Garcia

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL (2011) DIR Brad Bird PROD Tom Cruise, Brad Bird, J.J. Abrams SCR Josh Applebaum, André Nemec (characters created by David Koepp, Steven Zaillian; TV series created by Bruce Geller) CAM Robert Elswit ED Paul Hirsch MUS Michael Giacchino CAST Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, Michael Nyqvist, Vladimir Mashkov, Samuli Shvedoff, Léa Seydoux

PREMIUM RUSH (2012) DIR David Koepp PROD Gavin Polone SCR David Koepp, John Kamps CAM Mitchell Amundsen ED Jill Savitt, Derek Ambrosi MUS David Sardy CAST Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez, Sean Kennedy, Kimberly Perfetto, Anthony Chisholm, Ashley Austin Morris, Wolé Parks

JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT (2014) DIR Kenneth Branagh PROD David Barron, Lorenzo do Bonaventura, Mace Neufeld, Mark Vahradian SCR David Koepp, Adam Cozad (characters created by Tom Clancy) CAM Haris Zambarloukos ED Martin Walsh MUS Patrick Doyle CAST Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Kenneth Branagh, Keira Knightley, Lenn Kudrawizki, Alec Utgoff, Mikhail Baryshnikov

MORTDECAI (2015) DIR David Koepp PROD Johnny Depp, Gigi Pritzker, Christi Dembrowski, Andrew Lazar, Patrick McCormick SCR Eric Aronson (novel by Kyril Bonfiglioli) CAM Florian Hoffmeister ED Jill Savitt, Derek Ambrosi MUS Mark Ronson, Geoff Zanelli CAST Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Goldblum, Paul Bettany, Olivia Munn, Jonny Pasvolsky, Michael Culkin, Ulrich Thomsen

INFERNO (2016) DIR Ron Howard PROD Brian Grazer SCR David Koepp (novel by Dan Brown) CAM Salvatore Totino ED Tom Elkins, Daniel P. Hanley MUS Hans Zimmer CAST Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Irrfan Khan, Omar Sy, Ben Foster, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Ana Ularu, Ida Darvish

THE MUMMY (2017) DIR Alex Kurtzman PROD Sarah Bradshaw SCR David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, Dylan Kussman (story by Alex Kurtzman, Jon Spaiths, Jenny Lumet) CAM Ben Seresin ED Gina Hirsch, Paul Hirsch, Andrew Mondshein MUS Brian Tyler CAST Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari, Simon Atherton