Screenwriters on Screen-Writing: The Best in the Business Discuss Their Craft
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Before any lights, camera, or action, there's the script--arguably the most important single element in filmmaking, and Screenwriters on Screen-Writing introduces the men and women responsible for the screenplays that have produced some of the most successful and acclaimed films in Hollywood history. In each interview, not only do the writers explore the craft and technique of creating a filmic blueprint, but they recount the colorful tales of coming up in the ranks of the movie business and of bringing their stories to the screen, in a way that only natural-born storytellers such as themselves can. These and other screenwriters have garnered the attention of the movie-going population not only with their words, but with headlines announcing the sales of their scripts for hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of dollars.
Anyone interested in writing, making, or learning about movies will enjoy reading this fascinating behind-the-scenes compendium that brings together some of the most prominent and talented screenwriters in modern-day filmmaking.
Screenwriters interviewed include:
Bruce Joel Rubin (Ghost), Ernest Lehman (North by Northwest, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), Amy Holden Jones (Indecent Proposal), Ted Tally (The Silence of the Lambs), Horton Foote (To Kill a Mockingbird, Tender Mercies), Andrew Bergman (The In-Laws), Caroline Thompson (Edward Scissorhands), Richard LaGravenese (The Fisher King), and Robert Towne (Chinatown, Shampoo).
chance with movies. When you see a really fine picture, wow, what a miracle. Writing for publication, you’re everything. Writing for films, it’s you plus the actors, plus the director, plus the producer, plus the art director, plus the composer, plus the editor, plus the studio executives. JE: I watched The Sound of Music with my daughter the other night. They don’t make ’em like that anymore. EL: I’d change only one scene: When Maria is sitting with the children, thanking them for being nice
Finally I took a trip, and while on the plane I made an outline. I was going to visit my husband on location. I gave myself that long weekend visiting him to figure out how to solve the script problems. I had been looking at the films of Billy Wilder. Almost all of them have something to do with people selling themselves, making some horrible compromise. Think of The Apartment. Think of Sunset Boulevard. And yet, you still care about those people; they’re just human. I started to think, “Yeah,
just cannot ask him. It’s not done. Even when any of us has talked with him, you can bring up almost anything, but not his work. JE: What did you do to, in essence, make yourself Clarice, so that you could see through her eyes, so that the screenplay could be written through her eyes? TT: It’s easy to put yourself in her shoes, because she doesn’t know what’s going on, and she’s scared. It’s easy to be scared of Lecter and, imaginatively, of a scene in which you have to examine a brutally
possibilities that my mind would shut down more. JE: Screenwriting is about problem solving: having this space to solve that problem. A novel is creating the world in six days. CT: My mind shuts down at infinity. I panic. I find I come alive within the boundaries of the screenplay. What I do when I’m writing a scene is ask: What is the feeling? What’s it about? What’s the purpose? What does it feel like? What does it feel like? What does it feel like? JE: How do you know when you’ve gotten it
were writing Chinatown, did you have a sense that something extraordinary had happened or was happening? RT: No. I remember vividly that I had a sense, at about page eighty, that it had kicked in, and I just started watching it happen. I mean, I didn’t know that I said that to myself at the time, only in retrospect. To extend the dance metaphor, you start off leading, and you like to end up following. JE: What is it that you gave to the story that jump-started its self-activation? RT: I don’t