Interview by Nathan Leslie
Stacey Davis is the screenwriter and producer of The Sibling Code, a short film that appeared in 2016. The film, directed by Roberta Munroe, features Amy Hill, Jonathan Lisecki, and Amy Okuda. Stacey is also an entertainment and intellectual property lawyer who lives in Alabama.
Nathan Leslie: What initially inspired you to write screenplays in general? What was the spark?
Stacey Davis: I have always been interested in film, even as a young child. And I loved to read. I think the combination of stories and film has always been a natural connection for me. I starting writing my first script—about a high school sleepover crashed by Chris O’Donnell—in high school.
NL: What stirred you to write The Sibling Code in particular? What is the story behind the story?
SD: I had long wanted to turn one of my scripts into a film and thought I would start with a short. I wanted to highlight my comedy chops, and family relationships are always a good bet to mine some comedic gold.
My brother and I had a love-hate relationship growing up. It was the very typical “I can say or do whatever I want to my sibling, but don’t you dare try it.” I wanted to explore what it would be like if two siblings had never outgrown the childish ways of interacting and arguing, like you do when you are young. That’s how The Sibling Code came to be, through that exploration.
NL: The Sibling Code was screened at many festivals in 2016. Have you been pleased by the reception of the film?
SD: Yes, we’ve been thrilled with the reception. It’s been a fun ride, and hopefully, it’s not quite over. We have a few submissions pending (looking at you, Ashland Film Festival, Maryland Film Festival, Newport Beach Film Festival, and Sarasota Film Festival) so we are keeping our fingers crossed that we will be able to bring it to a few more audiences across the country.
NL: What is your next project?
SD: I have a few in the works. I am currently shopping my latest action-comedy, Where Are They Now, about a trio of estranged former child stars, who, twenty years after the cancellation of their hit TV show, My So-Called High School, 60301, hit the road to save their cast-mate from a ruthless drug lord. It’s Saved By the Bell cribs Tropic Thunder.
I’m also developing a short documentary about pie.
NL: From your IMDb profile, it appears you have found a niche as production counsel for a number of films (you are a lawyer as well). It must be rewarding to wear two different hats, no? Have the two hats dovetailed a bit?
SD: It’s definitely helped. To be able to understand not only the business side of the industry, but the creative side as well, I think that gives me a leg up, no matter what hat I am wearing.
NL: What are some of your favorite films? Favorite screenwriters? Directors?
SD: I love the screwball comedies of the 1930s (It Happened One Night, My Man Godfrey, The Thin Man), the MGM and 20th Century Fox musicals of the 1940s, and the female-centric comedies of the 1980s (Working Girl, Baby Boom, and anything by John Hughes).
Favorite screenwriters: Neil Simon, Preston Sturges, John Hughes, Aaron Sorkin.
Favorite directors: Sydney Pollack, Mike Nichols, Alfred Hitchcock.
NL: Tell me about your collaborative relationship with Roberta Munroe.
SD: Roberta directed and produced The Sibling Code and she was a true mentor throughout the process. She’s a veteran in the short film world and I was a newbie. I wanted to know everything and she was very patient with walking me through each step. We would not have been able to do it without her.
NL: I feel that the short film, like the short story, is underrated. Do you agree?
SD: I do agree. Whenever we go to festivals, my husband and I always see as many short blocks (narrative and doc) as we can. We are always amazed at the storytelling and craft that go into just a few short minutes.
NL: Do you ever try your hand at other genres? Any Stacey Davis short stories, plays, or poems in the works?
SD: I have dabbled in poetry (who hasn’t?), but my other passion right now is writing children’s picture books. It is such a challenging medium, but I love the freedom it gives me to explore a wide variety of topics. So many people think, oh 500 words, how hard can that be? Hard—really hard. Acclaimed author/illustrator Mem Fox put it best when she said, “Writing for children is like writing War and Peace, in haiku.”
NL: Thanks so much for chatting with me. Best of luck to you in all of your writing and legal endeavors!
SD: Thank you!
Read about The Sibling Code online.