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Dubuque: Corporate headhunter followed ‘Calling’

10 Screenwriters to Watch 2012: Bill Dubuque

After 12 years of working as a corporate headhunter, Dubuque was ready for a change. “It gets to the point where you just want to do something different,” says Dubuque, who switched to screenwriting. “I was confident that I could do this. I went to the library, got as many books as I could find about how to write a screenplay and went at it.”

And yet, Dubuque’s unlikely background has proved a unique benefit to his approach. His first script, “The Headhunter’s Calling,” drew from life experience, while his writing style was an extension of that job.

“More than anything else, my inspiration for the dialogue and the scenery come from headhunting,” he says. “When you’re on the phone and you don’t see these people, you’ve got to fill in the blanks. It’s just like writing a scene.”

After “The Headhunter’s Calling” captured the attention of Robert Downey Jr. and his associates, they deemed Dubuque the perfect guy to revise a screenplay the producer-star wanted to make. That project, “The Judge,” tells the story of a bigshot Chicago lawyer who returns to his tiny hometown to defend his estranged father.

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“It’s not so much a legal drama as it is a relationship drama,” Dubuque says. “It’s a father-and-son story.”

With two scripts in the can for Warners, another that he’s working on and an upcoming two-film blind deal to work on projects for Team Downey, Dubuque is definitely in demand. But the self-effacing screenwriter seems content to lie back and let things take their course.

“That’s one of the reasons I get along so well with my agent and my manager,” he jokes. “I’m not calling every day and saying ‘What do you hear?’ ”

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