The first performing arts job that came Pen Densham’s way involved riding atop a live alligator at age four for a short film made by his British parents. Lo these many years and Hollywood projects later, the USC adjunct professor has chosen to refer back to those beginnings for the title of his January 2011 screenwriting how-to book Riding the Alligator: Strategies for a Career in Screenplay Writing (And Not Getting Eaten).
The 63-year-old writer-producer has two Oscar nominations to his credit, for Best Short Subject (Live Action) in 1973 and Best Documentary Short Subject in 1980. On the TV and feature film side, his best known credits are the 1991 Kevin Costner film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and the sci-fi anthology remake series The Outer Limits.
Densham’s new book features a forward by Jay Roach (Austin Powers, Meet the Parents) and short essays by a dozen successful screenwriters including Shane Black, Eric Roth and Nia Vardalos. He promises that this is “the first book that explores both specific screenplay writing techniques, while simultaneously imparting industry-tested strategies for carving a successful, long-term career.”
The website promoting Densham’s book is solidly put together and features a very interesting ten-minute autobiographical video clip. He is offering the preview of a free chapter to anyone who contacts him via email.