David S. Cohen - About Me

Snorkeling Honoloa Bay, Maui, 2018

As long as I can remember, I've been a storyteller. I was the kid who was assigned an essay on the history of Japan and turned in a short story (Got an A!), and made a werewolf movie for a Spanish class assignment. The movie was better than our Spanish.
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I bring groups together to tell stories, too. I trained to be a stage director, and aside from breaking down a script, staging beautifully and exploring character with actors, I learned how to frame a top-line vision, align a team behind that vision, and bring out the best in all of them. These days I'm "directing" writers, illustrators and page designers, or the creative teams on a video production. But to me, it's still about inspiring myself and my team to excel — all to move an audience.

I've won awards for my work, including awards for print and video journalism, and I've been in demand as a speaker at conferences around the world, from Park City, Utah, to Tampere, Finland. But I'm most proud of the things audiences never really know about: the creative leaps that elevated a story or show; the solutions to thorny problems; the times I stayed cool in a crisis; the ways I've helped my teams do their best, and the times they've made me better in turn.
Some personal history: I started to fall in love with show show business before I could read or write, after a very kind babysitter helped me write Lassie and Timmy, the stars of my favorite TV show. Receiving an autographed picture of Lassie and Timmy in the mail, I was hooked. I went on to study acting and directing at the State University of New York at Albany, graduating summa cum laude in 1981 and becoming the first Theatre major in the school's history to be inducted Phi Beta Kappa.
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Theater was my first love, and I hoped to be a director. I worked as a stagehand in regional theaters before moving to New York City, where I directed and stage managed in Off-Off Broadway theatre. I realized I didn't really know how the business worked, so I took jobs in casting and an agency. I worked on casting for some legendary Broadway flops, Carrie and Legs Diamond, and hits M. Butterfly and The Piano Lesson. At APA, I learned the ins and outs of TV finance and writing deals while helping to represent top television writers.

Moving to Los Angeles, I worked at first in the business office of the hit sitcom
Home Improvement. That taught me a lot about the TV industry from the inside. Later I evaluated books and screenplays for movie production companies, including Turner Pictures, Simpson/Bruckheimer Productions and the Kennedy-Marshall Company. But the plan was always writing. With my old friend and writing partner Martin Winer, we wrote and a sold script to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; we received sole "Written by" on our episode, "Destiny."
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Martin was trained a scientist, so when we wrote science fiction, people assumed he did the science and did the fiction, but it was often the other way around. I had a passion for reading and telling true stories, and eventually that led me away from fiction to journalism.

I cut my teeth as the first Los Angeles stringer for the South China Morning Post of Hong Kong. Aside from the SCMP, I wrote for Total Film, Heat and Okay! magazines in the U.K. and the Jerusalem Post; and Cathay Pacific’s inflight magazine, Discovery; and the science magazine Discover. I took on wrote Script magazine’s “From Script to Screen” series and built it into one of Script readers' favorite series. After some 60-odd stories on feature films, those articles became the basis of my first book,
Screen Plays: How 25 Scripts Made It To A Theater Near You — For Better or Worse.
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I began freelancing for the "entertainment bible” Variety in the late 1990s, covering every aspect of film and television. I joined the Variety newsroom as a copy editor, while continuing to write features as a freelancer. Later I moved on to be a film reporter then a features editor, the post-production/visual effects beat reporter and technology columnist. My coverage of the VFX industry earned an international following and spearheaded the venerable trade’s expanded coverage of technology and the Digital Revolution.

I have also attended and covered the Emmys, Golden Globes, SAG Awards, Visual Effects Society Awards, the Scientific and Technical Academy Awards, Academy Governors’ Awards and the Oscars — some 11 years in a row backstage at "Hollywood's Biggest Night." I reported from the field on the Consumer Electronics Show, NAB Show, SIGGRAPH conference, and more.

In 2014 I received a Maggie Award for my Variety cover story on Alfonso Cuaron and Gravity, and a Southern California Journalism Award for his Variety cover story on the demise of 35mm film prints. The following year I received yet more awards, this time as the producer of Variety Artisans video, for the episode "The Dangerous Art of Aerial Cinematography."
In 2016 I moved to Variety's new branded content studio. I was especially proud to edit the unit's award-winning advertorial supplement for Easterseals of Southern California, "Abilities Unlimited," about opportunities in entertainment for people with disabilities. Since then I've gone on to oversee supplements for Disney Studios (Mary Poppins Returns, Avengers: Endgame), Starz, AppleTV+, Neon (Parasite), Warner Bros. (Joker) and more.
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I love to travel (Who doesn't?) both for the experiences and the photos I take on the way; they're my favorite souvenirs. I also like to eat my way through the world. I've avored duck tongues in mustard sauce in Hong Kong, tsampa in Nepal, supped on soup with banana flowers in Bangkok, sipped Scotch in Edinburgh and slurped dou yar (soft tofu) from a street vendor in old Chengdu — before that spot disappeared under the waters upriver of the Three Gorges dam.

In my spare time, I enjoy swimming, hiking, sipping fine tea, exploring the food scene in Los Angeles and, of course, moviegoing.