Revati Dhomse & Hector Lowe
screenwriters to watch
Listed as one of Variety’s 110 Students to Watch in their 2015 educational impact report, Revati Dhomse is a writer and director who lives in Los Angeles. Born in Mumbai and raised in California, Dhomse is a child of two worlds. Her undergraduate capstone project ‘The Death of Colm Canter’ went on to receive praise by CineWomen magazine as a “technically audacious and emotionally gripping film.” The feature screenplay of the project, co-written with Hector Lowe, ranked as a quarter-finalist in the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in 2018, and the same year was awarded the Barry Josephson Fellowship at the Austin Film Festival. Most recently, Revati was one of the eight women selected to be part of the AFI’s Directing Women Workshop. Dhomse enjoys exploring themes of womanhood through magical realism and heightened genres in her art. Working as a production coordinator at Cartoon Network, Dhomse was instrumental in the studio’s “We Speak Up” campaign in which she spearheaded the production of 20 anti-bullying shorts. Recently, she co-founded Cartoon Network’s Diversity & Inclusion Council to amply and support marginalized voices at the studio. Dhomse and her writing partner Hector Lowe are represented by Heroes and Villains Entertainment.
Hector Lowe is a British-American screenwriter, originally from London. After studying Literature at University, Hector’s career took him all over Asia, Europe and North America, where he has worked as a teacher, game designer, artist, legal clerk, and writer. In 2013 he settled in Los Angeles, where he met his partner Revati Dhomse. Together they have collaborated on a number of projects, winning acclaim from the A-List, Austin Film Festival, The Barry Josephson Fellowship and American Film Institute. Hector is currently represented by Heroes and Villains Entertainment.
How did you break in or get your start in screenwriting?
Revati: One of my first jobs in the industry was working in live action, feature film development. I started writing when I realized I wasn’t seeing myself represented in any of the scripts that were coming across my desk. Hector and I broke in through a community of screenwriters when ‘The Death of Colm Canter’ won an industry specific screenplay award called ‘The A-List.’ It all snowballed from there!
Hector: Organizations such as Austin Film Festival helped me break into screenwriting. Submitting to screenwriting competitions is a great motivator to hone one’s craft, and a terrific way to get feedback on your work. Revati and I were fortunate enough to place as finalists or semi-finalists both years that we submitted, and in 2018 we were lucky enough to receive the Barry Josephson Fellowship, which was truly an honor. I would say that the exposure from the Austin Film Festival has been our biggest break, as it directly led to us meeting our current managers, Chris Coggins and Aaron Lipsett.
Revati: Writer – ‘The Death of Colm Canter’
Hector: Writer – ‘The Death of Colm Canter’
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
Revati: “Do what you love” is an elitist, classist statement. Do what you have to do to pay rent, try and find time to write a little every day.
Hector: Perseverance and self-reflection are the greatest tools I’ve learned as a writer. It’s a crowded playing field, so in order to get noticed and make your break, you just have to keep writing, writing, writing. Fail until you succeed, keep working and submitting and talking to people until someone notices you. Persevere. And then learn. Reflect. What could you have done better this time? What will you do differently next time? Adapt and improve. It’s all very well to say ‘just keep going’, but we all know that repeating the same actions and expecting different results is definitively insane. Do keep going, keep rolling that boulder, but try to learn from your failures and adjust accordingly.
What’s the hardest scene or project you’ve ever had to write? How did you navigate the challenge?
Revati: Before Hector and I wrote the ‘The Truth,’ a period genre pilot that proceeded to the second-round in the 2017 Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition, we wrote an entire first draft of a feature focusing on completely different characters, that dealt with completely different themes. It was only after writing those 120 pages did we realize that there was another story underneath the surface. Sometimes, you have to write a feature before you find a pilot.
Hector: Perhaps the hardest project that my partner and I have had to write was our original TV pilot ‘The Truth’; a mini-series based on the real life of gonzo journalist Barry Jenkings and his interactions with a young Rupert Murdoch. Because it was our first experience with adapting a biography to the screen, we were faced with certain new challenges. Namely: how do we bend the real facts to fit an engaging narrative? Both Revati and I are very dedicated to authenticity, so we did not want to misrepresent Mr. Jenkings or his family in our show. Unfortunately, real life does not obey the rules or rhythm of storytelling, so we were a bit stymied! Ultimately, we were able to tie together seemingly disparate plot threads into a compelling story. As ever, the key was to look at the material from every angle until we found a version that worked. If in doubt, just tear the whole thing apart and put it back together again!
What was a major turning point in your career?
Revati: Other than beginning to write with Hector, a major turning point in my career was seeing “The Death of Colm Canter” win first place drama feature at the A-list script competition. It’s extremely validating to be told that you’re actually good at something you love doing.
Hector: Other than being signed to HVE, I would say that the biggest turning point in my career was when I began working with Revati. We had known each other for years, but when we began writing together, we realized that we had a great balance of focus and ability that allowed us to collaborate to wonderful effect. Alone we were swimming in circles, but together we were able to strike forward, and we’ve continued moving forward since.
What are you working on right now?
Revati: Hector and I are developing a southern gothic TV drama with our managers. I am also directing a short south-Asian horror/thriller piece that Hector and I wrote for AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women.
Hector: Right now, Revati and I are working closely on a number of projects with both our managers and the good people at Barry Josephson Entertainment. I have two favorites at the moment: one is a feature-length horror-thriller based on the folktale ‘Bluebeard’, which marries elements of South-Asian cinema with Gothic Romance. The other is a television drama about a group of estranged siblings in the American South, who reunite after their father’s death to run the family business as black-market smugglers. We love to write in heightened genres that have strong social themes.
What are some of your favorite movies?
Revati: This is a hard one! The Brother’s Bloom, Omkara, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Get Out, Boy, The Matrix, Old Boy, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night …I could go on
Hector: My tastes are generally pretty elastic, but some of my favorite films at the moment are: ‘Sorry To Bother You’, ‘In Bruges’, ‘The Favourite’, and ‘BlacKkKlansman’. Though it’s hard for me to play favorites in cinema, I find I tend towards off-kilter drama with comic elements, and black comedy with a unique tempo and a bit of action.
Who are some of your favorite screenwriters?
Revati: Though more than just a screenwriter, Jordan Peele is possibly my favorite screenwriter out there right now. He brings important, personal stories to the big screen. He manages to generate empathy and connect audiences to marginalized identities through heightened genres. He is #goals.
Hector: I’m a tremendous fan of Edgar Wright, not just as a writer, but as a director. In his screenplays he creates a level of self-referential depth that isn’t only mechanically precise, but also funny as hell. Then he strives to recreate that detail on screen. Taika Waititi is an immensely funny and sincere writer – he brings a level of humanity to even the most bizarre concepts. Martin McDonagh is the consummate playwright-screenwriter; his work has some of the pithiest dialogue and well-tempered theming, down to the minutest slug line. Everything is considered. Every word is used to great effect. That’s really the common element in the people I admire – the attention to detail, and economy of language. The ability to inject every syllable with life and purpose.
Share a memorable experience at Austin Film Festival.
Revati: My favorite thing to do at the Austin Film Festival is going to watch the short films. Some of my fondest memories come from excitedly waiting in that line at night outside the Rollins Theatre. Because of the distribution models for most short films, there’s a good chance I won’t get to see most of this art in a theater near me. Each time I walk into that block of programming, it’s a shot of adrenaline and inspiration. I get to see the fresh work of talent filmmakers from all over…. and they’re all always in the audience too.
Hector: While the entirety of the Austin Film Festival is a wonderful experience, I must say that the most memorable occasion was certainly when Revati and I won our award from Barry Josephson! It came as such a surprise that I hadn’t even prepared any kind of acceptance speech, which I rather wish I had in hindsight. Getting to share time with all the other nominees and getting to know them all was such a pleasure, and I can’t wait to come back again!