Alex Tse at SFIAAFF in March 2009
May 20, 1976 |
San Francisco, California
Alex R. Tse (born May 20, 1976) is an American screenwriter who wrote the 2004 gangster film Sucker Free City and co-wrote the 2009 superhero film Watchmen. Tse grew up in San Francisco and attended Emerson College in Boston.
Alex Tse, a Chinese American, was born in 1976 to his father, a banker, and his mother, a teacher. He grew up in Richmond District in San Francisco. He went to Alamo Elementary School, Presidio Middle School, and Lowell High School in the area. When Tse was growing up, his parents were movie fans, and he was incidentally exposed to movies not appropriate for his age like Heavy Metal, Prom Night, and Altered States. His father's favorite film was The Godfather, and the family would watch two films every Christmas, such as To Live and Die in L.A..
Tse attended Emerson College in Boston. When Tse was a first-year student at Emerson, he explored journalism as a career by having a radio show and realized that it was not his aspiration. He saw Pulp Fiction and was inspired by the film to pursue a screenwriting career. He described Pulp Fiction's influence on him:
I had never seen anything like it, in terms of narrative structure, characters, the character's point of view, all the pop culture references and humor. It seemed like it was coming from my own sensibility... though the world of Pulp Fiction is so fantastic and obviously not my world, it felt like these were characters who were speaking from the perspective of people in your world. And I don't know that a movie has done that since.
After Tse graduated from college, he moved to Los Angeles in December 1998 to pursue a writing career. He worked for under three years producing rap videos and working part-time jobs for Miramax Films and Walt Disney Pictures. One of his first productions was the music video for the single "You Never Knew" from the album 3rd Eye Vision by Hieroglyphics, and the video eventually aired on Yo! MTV Raps. His work attracted the attention of other independent rappers, for whom he also produced videos. He was encouraged to begin temping and found temp work at Disney, particularly under then-president Peter Schneider. Tse also learned more about screenwriting by reading scripts, with two noteworthy examples being the onomatopoeia in James Mangold's script for Heavy and the sarcasm in the narrative for Man on the Moon.
After three years of small jobs, Tse sold to television-based Showtime a script called 87 Fleer, about four middle-class kids from the Richmond District. The company was impressed with his script and encouraged him to write a pilot about gangs. By June 2002, Tse submitted a first-story outline titled The Game for a potential television series. By the following September, the outline was developed into a full script that eventually became the Showtime television movie Sucker Free City (2004), directed by Spike Lee. For the film, Tse won a literary award from PEN Center USA for best teleplay, and he was nominated for best screenplay (original or adapted) for the 2006 Black Reel Awards. After Sucker Free City was released, Tse and Lee discussed the possibility of producing a feature film based on Tse's first script 87 Fleer. Tse developed a script for an untitled project for the singer Ashanti. He also developed a script for a remake of Superfly (1972) for Warner Bros. and Silver. Tse said that the remake "had nothing to do with the original" and that it evolved into a possible film titled Gangland.
After Sucker Free City, Tse performed uncredited production rewrites for such films as House of Wax, Step Up, and its sequel, Step Up 2: The Streets. Tse's major screenwriting debut came when he was a co-writer for the 2009 superhero film Watchmen, which was directed by Zack Snyder. He and fellow screenwriter David Hayter were nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Writing for Watchmen. Tse has expressed interest in working with Darren Aronofsky, Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh, Curtis Hanson, and Danny Boyle. In 2012, Tse said he was planning to make his directorial debut with '87 Fleer. Toward the end of 2013, Tse was hired by Columbia Pictures to write the script for a film adaptation of the racing video game series Gran Turismo. The Hollywood Reporter called Tse "one of the bigger names in genre screenwriting" for his work on a remake of The Crow, a live-action remake of the anime film Ninja Scroll, a film adaptation of the graphic novel Battling Boy by Paul Pope, and a remake of Highlander.
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