dylan k. petley screenwriter


I believe that some stories MUST be told.

They’re the stories that seem to sustain themselves, rising to the surface to become the life-allegories and moral fables that grandparents eventually tell to their grandchildren.

When I found Andy Dougan’s biographical work, ‘DYNAMO: DEFENDING THE HONOR OF KIEV’, I knew I had just that. The story of eleven Kievan bread-factory workers who toppled the Luftwaffe’s dream soccer team was the greatest tale of courage- in-the-face-of-adversity that I had ever read. Reaching the last page, I stopped only long enough to wipe the tears before flipping to the front and starting again.

And amazingly, no one had handled it as a screenplay. The only attempt at anything close had been an early-eighties film titled ‘VICTORY’ – a flop with a cast which included Bobby Moore, Pele and Sylvester Stallone as American POW’s in a Nazi Camp.

I knew the research was going to be the hardest part of this project. It was a continual challenge not getting creatively ahead of myself as I painstakingly logged an inventory of authenticators – anything I could find to do with Kievan pre-war life and culture.

Harder still was finding information about the mythic ‘Deathmatch’. Several Ukrainian web sites provided renditions of the story, but details seemed scant. Thanks to a chance meeting with a Kievan cab driver and a coincidental trip to the Ukraine by my old university writing professor, I found myself in possession of the facts and the confidence needed to tackle as large an undertaking as ‘DYNAMO’.

It was the most exciting ‘FADE IN:’ I ever typed.

‘DYNAMO’ and I were a perfect fit. Soccer was always something I had been dangerously passionate about. Pre/Post-war Russian cinema has been a prominent part of my university studies. This story had moved me in a way I’d never been moved. It was love at first sight.

But as with all relationships, it came with its own set of challenges. I had the unique task of streamlining almost two years-worth of disjointed and little-known Soviet history into 130 pages of script. This is why I use the SUPER, ‘based on actual events’. I’ve taken several small liberties for the sake of narrative flow and dramatic tension, but rest assured that very little was altered in the name of creative license. This is a story in which the truth screams louder than anything I could have fabricated – which is why I’ve felt a strange custodial responsibility ever since typing ‘FADE OUT:’ I’ve always believed my responsibility was to write ‘DYNAMO’ without compromising the heart of the story or the memory of the brave men it’s about.

That being said, I left my stamp where appropriate. Although witness accounts of the ‘Deathmatch’ convey a clear sense of the game’s tone, no great detail is given as to the nature of each goal. My solution was as self-indulgent as it was effective — tribute to my all-time favorite goals. I’ll give two away: David Beckham’s unforgettable debut goal for Manchester United (1996) and Diego Maradona’s sensational World Cup goal against England at MEXICO 86. The rest are there for the serious fan to enjoy.

World War Two was an ugly war. Soccer will eternally be ‘The Beautiful Game’. ‘DYNAMO’ brings them together in the perfect story.


1 Comment »

  1. Just passing by.Btw, you website have great content!

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    Comment by Mike | March 1, 2009

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