Journo driven to write for the bigscreen

HOLLYWOOD — Matt Healy’s script “Clay Pigeons” rides the current vogue of dark comedies about serial killers. The difference is, “Clay Pigeons” is as genuinely funny as it is bleak. The film, helmed by first-timer David Dobkin, stars Joaquin Phoenix and Vince Vaughn, and will be released this fall by Gramercy.

Healy, 41, started screenwriting about seven years ago when sports daily the National shuttered and his career in journalism came to an abrupt end. Unemployment drove him to writing scripts, the third of which, “Clay Pigeons,” nabbed him a prize, from the Writers Network, as well as an agency, ICM.

He recently finished a World War II drama, “Battleship,” for Warners, and is signed to adapt Douglas Kennedy’s novel “The Job” for MGM. His hopes, though, rest with spec script “Crystal,” about a woman just released from jail after holding up a 7-Eleven.

“I like things on a darker side,” Healy says, expressing special admiration for screenwriters Scott Frank (“Get Shorty”) and Don Roos (“The Opposite of Sex”). “The writers I tend to like are the ones I have similar tastes to.”

As for that previous career, Healy says journalism isn’t the worst training ground for his current profession. “In tabloid journalism and screenwriting, you make everything as tight as possible. Novelists have a problem with that.”

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