PF: WHAT ABOUT IT DO YOU MOST ENJOY?
SK: I really like telling stories, especially how they relate to people and human nature. Screenwriting is particularly interesting because you often have these extraordinary people in other worlds going through incredible things but we can learn from them because they are people and we are all essentially are faced with the same problems and challenges from a human nature perspective.
PF: WHAT SPECIFIC TALENTS DO YOU FEEL DISTINGUISH YOU AS A WRITER?
SK: There are things that concern me as a writer that I think allow me to solve problems that come up in the filmmaking process. I find a very common problem is reconciling a tension that occurs between theme and plot in a script and I've become fairly good at smoothing that kind of problem out.
PF: AND WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES?
SK: Sometimes shoots can be very chaotic and pressurized to the point where you are rewriting huge sections of a script on a daily basis as it’s being shot. So the challenge can be to just maintain your composure, keep your focus and do the work. Not to mention the fact that there can be all kinds of different people requiring something different from your work at the same time, so learning to please several different masters under very pressurized circumstances can be challenging.
PF: YOUR WORK HAS BEEN PRIMARILY IN THE "GENRE" SPHERE, WITH MR. AND MRS. SMITH, X3, ETC. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS, AND WHAT ARE THE PARTICULAR CHALLENGES?
SK: I particularly enjoy making seemingly "big" stories smaller and more character focused. For instance Mr. and Mrs. Smith is basically just a story about a marriage. They happen to be this specific world, but they still have to confront the challenges any marriage would face. And in X3, the main character Wolverine is put in a position where he has to make the choice whether or not to kill the woman he loves. I've always loved comic books so it's really thrilling for me to help bring these stories to the screen.
PF: HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR EXPERIENCE AT COLUMBIA, AND HOW HAS IT AFFECTED YOUR WORK?
SK: Columbia has the reputation for having strong writing and I think it's well deserved. I was coming from the West Coast, so I already had a strong sense of what's commercial, and I think Columbia taught me to appreciate the art of character, storytelling and all its subtleties. An interesting thing happened where I reached a kind of middle ground where I can manage to tell stories that some might consider "commercial" but bring a degree of craft to it, pay more attention to structure and character, etc. I had some great writing professors at Columbia and I learned a lot from them.
PF: ANY PARTING WORDS FOR THE READERS OUT THERE?
SK: Well, I've been very lucky, but I also think I work hard and also work hard to stay grounded and focused, which can be difficult in this business. I think finding a balance in life can be the hardest part, and I've also been lucky to have been exposed to kind of the two different extremes in terms of East Coast and West Coast culture, and even time in Europe, so I think that's helped.
PF: SO BASICALLY: STAY GROUNDED, FOCUSED AND PROFESSIONAL… AND BE LUCKY.
SK: Pretty much. And be nice.