Jacobo Fe Gismera is a UCLA graduate student in Screenwriting & TV writing, and one of the youngest published authors in the historical genre in Spain (at the age of 19). He has been consecutively awarded three of the main Artistic Scholarships from his homeland: Faro Program, Fulbright Singular Award, and the Mutua Madrilenian Grant (2017/18/19) after completing three study fields in Film, Business Administration, & Law in five countries (Spain, Italy, India, Thailand, & the U.S.). His work is focused on true stories and biopics, combining historical research with creativity and has obtained international recognition on several occasions.
Besides his facet as a screenwriter, Jacobo has developed multiple professions through his work as a legal and business trainee, story analyst, translator, linguistic, proofreader, and fashion model in 10+ countries.
Currently, Jacobo is developing a historical fiction TV pilot screenplay for Joy Factory, after being granted fellowship, and works for Slamdance Film Festival. In addition, he assists Gaitafilms, a production company, as a story analyst and works as a literary agent for Café con Leche and Waterside Productions.
1. Your script ACE won award Best Script Month December 2020. How was the script inspired?
This is a true story about Sir Douglas Bader, a British pilot during WWII, who, after losing both of his legs, became a flying ace. The use of prosthesis was not an impediment in proving his value and wit both when battling in the skies or as an inmate in the most impregnable Nazi prison. His rude and rebel spirit coupled with his will power and energy resulted in adoration and frustration in equal measure with his allies and enemies. His exceptional merits and career made him an inspirational hero.
2. How did the writing process go? What was challenging during writing?
I am a perfectionist when it comes to resurrecting a true story from the past. My wish is to respect the events and characters I write about. A historical recreation set in the 40s must be accurate, even if its purpose is to serve as an instrument for entertainment. That’s why I spent long hours on understanding aviation concepts and flying strategies during WWII, and I read every single source I could find about Bader’s life and the exciting environment where his epic and inspirational story takes places.
Bader was a controversial pilot, whose tough, rebel and sometimes rude personality attracted both many allies and enemies. This is why I tried to recognize both sides of the story to build an empathetic antihero that flies in a grey cloud. He’s not the classic blue-blooded prince, but his merits and resilience make of him a memorable figure from history.
3. Tell us about your background and when did you decide to become a screenwriter?
Since I was 12, my vital goal is obtaining an Oscar for best original screenplay. That golden dream has always given a sense to my existence, to my reason for being after I made such a vow. Throughout my childhood I had the great luck to count on my supportive parents to develop my creativity thus I grew up far from technology, spending my leisure time reading, drawing, painting, and, of course, writing. The teachers and mentors I met have watered that same seed, inspiring me and encouraging me to do my best in every step I take. In that sense, many educational institutions support my cause and allow me to keep chasing my dream far from home. Now that I live in Los Angeles, the land of my dream, I’ll do everything it takes to make it real.
4. Films that inspired you to become a filmmaker/screenwriter?
Life is Beautiful, Pirates of the Caribbean, Lawrence of Arabia, and Indiana Jones are my top four favorite films. I love how entertaining getting inspiration from historical elements or ancient myths can be while creating empathetic characters and stories that, despite being remote and exotic, feel close to our core and our hearts, as human beings who care about each other.
5. What’s your all-time favorite series and why?
Spartacus, for its epic and emotional representation on how far a person will go to defend their freedom; together with Cobra Kai, an absolute writing masterclass on how to bring back the nostalgia of an old saga. Both are amazing, but if have to I pick only one… Oh, well, you know, Cobra Kai never dies!
6. Who is your biggest influence?
It's difficult to choose just a few but if I had to, I’d say the director Spielberg because of his ability to build so many different characters and mastery of many diverse genres, the manga creator Eiichiro Oda, whose manga about One Piece is the most marvelous universe I’ve ever dived into; and, finally, Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot, who wrote the stories of the infamous Jack Sparrow, my (anti) hero during my childhood.7. Do you have a favorite genre to work in? Why is it your favorite?
Doubtless, historical fiction. It is my element and nature. I’m a quick reader and exhaustive researcher. I feel passionate about digging up the past in search of inspiration until I find a story I would like to bring back to life. Maybe that’s why my nickname is “Phoenix”.
8. The most challenging project you worked on. And why?
I recently received a fellowship from Joy Factory to develop an entire TV pilot based on an interesting prompt they had in mind. It’s been very complicated dealing with the many notes from the producer in charge, trying to keep a balance between my style and what they are looking for. I’m extremely satisfied with the final result, but it’s been a struggle to complete the draft since it required a lot of energy and time.
9. What are your short term and long term career goals?
As a young writer recently graduated from UCLA, there is nothing I aspire more right now than to become a professional screenwriter while still having the opportunity to spend as much time as possible with those I love. I am trying to find a balance in that aspect of my life. Forward-looking, I hope the day I get an Oscar will come, someday, somehow. Hard work, patience and persistence are all I need.
10. Your next projects?
I’m confident about finally watching one of my scripts on the screen this year or the coming one. The last project I mentioned which I created together with Joy Factory, titled Direct Response, and Ben Forman could become that green-light project. It’s a one-hour drama show set in Atlantic City during the 80s… I can’t say much more now, but, hopefully, you can watch the show on your TV pretty soon!
Photos used in the spotlight: Alevtina Kalashnik (@ak.frames), Indrek Arula (@indrek_arula)