Film of the Month: Alexander Dinelaris

Posted November 1st, 2016 by Nicole Rutkowski

Alexander Dinelaris is a producer, playwright and screenwriter best known for his work on Alejandro Iñárritu’s last two features. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) and The Revenant. Dinelaris, along with the other three credited screenwriters, won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Birdman in 2015. His smart stories offer a peek into his rocky beginnings.

Growing up, Dinelaris used to sneak out of the house and take the Long Island Rail Road into New York City almost every day. He’d bribe the people cleaning the theatres with beer so that they’d let him in. Sitting on the stage, staring out at the aisles of seats for hours, Dinelaris, like many who are drawn strongly towards entertainment, was just trying to escape his life for a little bit.

But his trips to the theatre did more than offer a sweet escape from troubles at home. In 1999, while working in restaurants, strapped for cash, and sleeping in his bathtub for warmth after having his heating turned off on him, his aunt and acting teacher, Marjorie Ballentine, encouraged him to begin writing. An early play he wrote, Folding the Monster, gained significant attention which led to stage readings with Danny Aiello and Rosie O’Donnell. The play was set to open on Broadway but after Rosie ended up getting a role on The View the deal fell apart. But not all was lost. Folding the Monster gave Dinelaris his break and led to his next play Still Life being produced at MCC Theater and eventually read by Alejandro Iñárritu, who would end up bringing him on board the project Birdman.

After working on the preliminary stages of Iñárritu’s Biutiful, Dinelaris was immersed fully in the creative process of Iñárritu’s next film. Iñárritu, Nico Giacobone, Armando Bo, and Dinelaris all wrote Birdman together, developing their ideas over Skype and conference calls before Dinelaris and Giacobone put the words together on paper. One of the hardest scenes Dinelaris wrote in Birdman was a scene with the main character and his daughter since Dinelaris drew off of his own life and his relationship with his own two daughters.

Other varied works of his include a musical version of The Bodyguard, a book for the Broadway musical On Your Feet about the life and career of Gloria Estefan, a harrowing look at the legacy of the 1915 Armenian genocide in Red Dog Howls, and other plays The Chaos Theories and In This, Our Time  Additionally, Iñárritu and Dinelaris are the creators and writers of The One Percent, a Starz network drama set in the world of organic farming and starring Ed Helms, Hilary Swank, and Ed Harris.

Other than The One Percent, Dinelaris is currently working as the executive producer on a short called Directions and is hoping to work on another film with the other three writers from Birdman. Another of his scripts, a sports drama titled The Year of the Monarchs, is currently in development, and there has been talks of him working on a feature with Guillermo Del Toro.

Alexander Dinelaris is our judge for November Film of the Month. Please submit your shorts to him by November 14th. The three films with the most votes from a shortlist of twelve will be sent to Alex for his esteemed feedback. Winners also receive free membership to Vimeo+.


Comments are closed.