A track record in other media doesn't help the screenwriter, he says. "If you've written for radio or television, it isn't going to help you get into Hollywood. Write a novel, and it's different - if you go back, you'll find Hollywood has a thing about novelists, Aldus Huxley co-wrote "Alice in Wonderland", and look at who wrote "King Kong" - you'll be surprised. But one of the worst screenplays I ever read came from a successful novelist."
Couttie wrote his first short story at eight years old, "It was awful, a bad science fiction story, but I liked it then. Fortunately, it doesn't exist anymore. Seeing those black marks on the paper was a buzz. In most forms of writing, those marks on paper are the end product, with movies it's only the beginning. The relationship between a script and a movie is much like that between an architectural drawing and a building. You're making a road map, not the road. That's very difficult for most writers to understand."
How does he deal with creative conflict? "I choose my battleground. Inevitably, the producer and director will have their own concepts, and they'll have a dozen other people telling you they're right - you're just the poor schmuck with a keyboard who's sweated blood to write gold. First, you've got to stand back from your script and ask 'are these guys right?' because sometimes they are.