Magazine article Screen International

Stephen Chin, 'War Dogs'

Magazine article Screen International

Stephen Chin, 'War Dogs'

Article excerpt

Chin spoke about how his research trip in Iraq inspired the screenplay for War Dogs, which eventually shot in Miami Beach, Arizona, Morocco, Romania, and Los Angeles.

Jonah Hill, Miles Teller star and the film opens on August 19 in North America via Warner Bros and August 29 in the UK. Chin is pictured with his wife Elaine. Pic credit: Eric Charbonneau.

You originally went to Iraq to tell another story about two men. How did that contribute to the War Dogs script?

In 2004, I was trying to make the transition from being a former lawyer and producer to being a writer, and I was having a very difficult time because no-one took me seriously. I decided to go to Baghdad to get the life rights to these two young guys who snuck in there to start a radio station, since I couldn't option [an] article that was written about them.

My journalist friend said that you need to hire a smuggler and cross the border of Jordan to get into Baghdad. And when I asked if it was dangerous, he said that you could get two trucks to make your way in, so that if you get chased by the 'bad guys', you at least have a 50-50 shot of getting away. [This would inspire a scene in War Dogs.]

Also, the Rolling Stone article that we optioned [Guy Lawson's Arms And The Dudes, which Philips optioned in 2011] didn't get into detail about how exactly Efraim and David [War Dogs protagonists Diveroli and Packouz] scored this huge contract, instead painting them as just stoners, kids, idiots and focusing more on the political aspect of US defense spending.

But I knew from my time in Baghdad that there was no way that these guys in their twenties got such a big contract by just stumbling into it. I wanted to find out what the real story was, and so did Todd. So that prompted us to want to travel to Miami and actually meet these guys.

Why did you tell the story from the perspective of David Packouz?

The idea of David being generically anti-war but not really thinking deeply about what he was getting into [partnering with gun-runner Diveroli], was certainly meant to be a metaphor for an America that got into a war naively, and agnostically went along as things got more and more out of control and more and more money was spent. So I thought it would be really interesting to show the story from David's perspective, as someone who was a more average American and not already a gun dealer or a gun runner, and his experience as he got closer and closer and more deeply involved in it.

The film seems very timely as Congress weighs up a bill that would boost U. …

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