Screenwriters. On Screenwriting. The BAFTA and BFI Screenwritersâ€™ Lecture Series in association with The J J Charitable Trust 23 September - 03 October 2015
Just write. You can dive in later… You have to create your material first – do the knitting, spin the wool. It doesn’t matter whether it’s bad, because you can make it better later, but if you’ve nothing to work on then it’s neither bad nor good, it’s just nothing. So just write. It doesn’t matter what you write. Just sit at that desk and write.” EMMA THOMPSON S C R E E N W R I T E R S ’ L E C T U R E 2 014
elcome to the sixth year of the BAFTA International Screenwriters’ Lecture Series, in conjunction with the BFI and The JJ Charitable Trust. While continuing to assert the primacy of the screenplay as the sine qua non of narrative filmmaking, this year’s lectures reflect the ever more fluid relationship between the different media delivering drama to their public. As more and more screenwriters migrate between film and television, film and theatre, film and novel-writing, we invite five of the world’s best screenwriters to interrogate and elucidate their unique relationships with this shifting paradigm. We open with the Oscar-nominated screenwriter and world-renowned novelist Nick Hornby, followed by one of Australia’s greatest living playwrights and the screenwriter of A Most Wanted Man, Andrew Bovell. Winner of the coveted Writers Guild of America award for Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen, nominated for a Golden Globe and an Oscar, Nancy Meyers discusses her extraordinary filmography, including Private Benjamin, Baby Boom, Something’s Gotta Give and It’s Complicated. She is followed by one of the UK’s most renowned dramatists, the multi-award winning screenwriter Jimmy McGovern, author of such seminal works as The Lakes, Hillsborough, The Street, Accused, Banished and the film Priest. We end this year with the garlanded American playwright Beau Willimon, screenwriter of The Ides of March and creator of the multi-award winning US version of House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey.
Jeremy Brock Screenwriter and Founder of the Lecture Series
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vell... s, MARTHA d define for u l u f you cothe long-term we i , e b y a M think at are what youve would be? Wh objecti to achieve? trying Nick Hornby Wednesday 23 September, 19.30 at BAFTA 195 Piccadilly GÜNTHER safer place. he world t e k a m o many, Nick Hornby is synonymous with TFor Hornby’s unique insight into the literary
the world of literature, having won numerous process perhaps informs his talented and awards and nominations for his bestselling sympathetic adaptations. In 2014, he followed novels, including being shortlisted for the An Education with the emotionally engaging prestigious Whitbread Book Awards in 2005. adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling Several of his factual and fiction books have memoir, Wild, which starred Reese served as inspiration for films in their own right, Witherspoon. November 2015 sees the UK including High Fidelity (2000), About a Boy release of Brooklyn, an adaptation of Colm .. rs.and Meye(2002) Fever Pitch; the latter adapted for Tóibín’s acclaimed novel of the same name, the screen by Hornby himself in 1997 starring Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, (eagle-eyed viewers may also have spotted Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent. R the writer’s brief cameo as a R football e THUcoach A , we havLtOhNeE SbCeHsEtR F I G s in the film). e i v o m e n the work isajust But Hornby’s screenwriting d we hav are a s, i n i r I s e i d as celebrated, having and allergy to l, Maybeait’ssNick’s lahim both BAFTA ng won n,modesty n tel capast. e thatoexplains leadiAward r I and Academy nominations in the anything pretentious the minimalism in e , m u o o s Y d. enBAFTA-nominated utforforhis h Indeed, twice scripts. They frheiwas sare,t at the same time, airy and dense. , b y d e be a l t g e n k i An Education (2009), once for his Adapted His dialogue and prose is usually dry and precise, but i d l a e l ving ha e b Screenplayuof'Lynn Barber’s memoirs, and on rare occasions there is space for a wonderful effect: e r yo again for Outstanding Nick’s setting characters free when spilling their beans, . British Film, alongside iend frFinola producers Dwyer and Amanda Posey and or letting himself divert into long, meticulously detailed director Lone Scherfig. His screenplay was also description. I think my favourite is the album cover copy Oscar nominated. in Juliet, Naked. 2
The BAFTA and BFI Screenwriters’ Lecture Series
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Iris, in ARTHUR leading the movies, w e have195 Piccadilly es 25aSeptember, friend. ladiFriday Andrew Bovell 19.30 at BAFTA n d w e leading You, I can tel have the best l, are a ady, but you'rinebothbhislnative As an acclaimed playwright with the lives of multiple characters interlocking f o r e s hnovingafterlthe initial discovery omofea dead r Australia and internationally, it is perhaps a body. friend e ason, ike he are just as compelling . work often surprise that Andrew Bovell’s film His other filmtscripts best focuses on examining the human condition. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the rich characters that inhabit his adaptation of the John le Carré novel, A Most Wanted Man (2014), directed by Anton Corbijn, and in particular its conflicted protagonist, intelligence expert Gunther Bachmann. This nuanced, world-weary character, impeccably played by Philip Seymour Hoffman in his last leading role, is indicative of the kind of delicate characterisation that prevails throughout Bovell’s screenplays. A master of penning scripts for ensemble casts and giving each character their own, very defined agenda (a skill perhaps honed through his stage work), Bovell’s screenplays are often labyrinthine in their complexity, but never so convoluted that they are impenetrable. Gripping thriller Lantana (2001), based on Bovell’s own play, Speaking in Tongues, is a prime example, in association with The JJ Charitable Trust
and include Edge of Darkness (2010), directed by Martin Campbell and starring Mel Gibson; three collaborations with director Ana Kokkinos, Blessed (2009), The Book of Revelation (2006) and Head On (1998); and the original screenplay for director Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom (1992). A N TO N C O R B I J N
It is not an easy task to throw pages out of any John le Carré novel and make the rest of it into a script, and A Most Wanted Man is no exception, but Andrew did just that. He came to Hamburg with me in September 2010 (on a bicycle, which came naturally to me, but was not a great experience for him, though a good way to bond) as I wanted the city to be a character in the film. He then went back to Australia and put this amazing, clear and very compelling story together that lost nothing of the intricate world of the book. 3
In the Beginning… All films and television dramas start with the screenwriter. Every line of dialogue and every action on screen begins with them. But writing a script can be daunting, so here’s some sage advice from past lecturers in this series on how to beat that blank page…
STEVEN KNIGHT I try to make the opening of the film an event or a decision that causes the rest of the film to happen. It’s like the pebble that hits the pond. It’s because of that moment in the opening – even if you don’t realise it when you’re watching it – that everything else happens and wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for that moment.
EMMA THOMPSON You start with this little piece of grit and each draft is a layer, and there’s a nacreous quality to that layering. Sometimes, when you’re looking at the pearl at the end – hopefully it’s a pearl, not a pig’s ear – you can see the shadow or the light from a very early draft coming through, a feeling of an early draft. It’s a very interesting layering process.
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HOSSEIN AMINI Working with actors once the script has got to a certain stage is something I’d love to be able to keep doing. I think they have certain insights and ideas, and, ultimately, they’re the people who will have to say those lines. I’ve become much less precious about nailing the dialogue in drafts one or two, because I know at some stage they’re going to want changes to fit their patterns of delivery. It’s great to be part of that process.
DAV I D S G OY E R Write what you feel passionate about not what you think the market is dictating. At the end of the day, I believe good writing, and passionate writing, will always win out.
JAMES SCHAMUS The words on the page, the textual linearity of them, are really the matrix for the introduction of capital into the process. And that means that at that moment something else happens. Those words become not simply words and not simply inspired creations, but they become a place where we conflate two separate ideologies and two separate economic practices.
in association with The JJ Charitable Trust
SUSANNAH GRANT I guess what you need is a little bit of wisdom and honesty, to look at something you’ve written that feels false, or boring or derivative, or in poor taste, or inauthentic to you, or just plain not good enough. And say to yourself: ‘I bet I can do better.’ And then you sit yourself down and try to do better, and then once you’ve done that decide it can be better still. And when you’ve made it better, take another crack at it to see if you can improve it even more. You have to be clear. You have to be simpler and richer. And that’s difficult.
TO N Y G I L ROY You hear all the time, ‘Write what you know.’ I don’t know if that means ‘write what you’ve lived’, which would put a lot of people in the ghetto of their own existence – I think that’s pretty limiting. You can only write what you know about, and what you know about will limit or open the possibilities to everything. Science, history, how the world works, tools, jobs, occupations. Are you interested in other people? Are you a curious person?
R I C H A R D C U RT I S When anyone ever says, ‘How do I start? Where do I send my scripts?’, my first piece of advice is to send them to producers or people that you really, really like their credits and the things they’ve made before. Don’t send them to the five most successful producers in the country, because they won’t be to your taste and your stuff won’t be to their taste. I think that’s crucially important.
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Inspiring minds in Film, TV and Games in association with The JJ Charitable Trust
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Saturday 26 September, 19.30 at BAFTA 195 Piccadilly
Over her 35-year career, Nancy Meyers has developed a reputation as a first-rate writer, director and producer of literate and sophisticated romantic comedies. As a writer/producer, Meyers’ first film was the groundbreaking comedy Private Benjamin (1980), starring Goldie Hawn, which would earn both actor and writer an Oscar nomination. The film bucked conventional film wisdom at the time, which dictated that a female lead could not open a movie without a male star, and became a huge hit in the US and internationally. After the success of Private Benjamin, Meyers co-wrote and produced the critically acclaimed Irreconcilable Differences (1984), followed by Baby Boom (1987), starring Diane Keaton, and the box office hits Father of the Bride I and II (1991 and 1995), both of which starred Steve Martin and Keaton. Following two decades of successful screenwriting and producing, Meyers made an auspicious debut as a director with the highly 8
popular update of the Disney classic The Parent Trap (1998), starring Dennis Quaid and Lindsay Lohan, which Meyers also co-wrote. The multi-talented writer, director and producer also helmed the blockbuster romantic comedy What Women Want (2000), which enjoyed critical acclaim and international box office success. Meyers reunited with Keaton for the touching Something’s Gotta Give (2003), and again with Steve Martin in It’s Complicated (2009). Her most recent comedy, The Intern (2015), pairs Robert De Niro with Anne Hathaway, and is due for release in the UK in October this year. S T E V E M A RT I N Nancy called me and said I have this part that I would like you to play [in It’s Complicated]. In my head, I went, ‘Yippee!’ I read it and found, as is typical with Nancy’s movies, it was sophisticated and accurate to human behaviour. She writes quirkiness very well without it looking too exaggerated. She writes real people. The BAFTA and BFI Screenwriters’ Lecture Series
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ST EPH29EN I'm not Jimmy McGovern Tuesday September, 19.30 at BAFTA 195 Piccadilly MEYE a R
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and Katy Jones); and two for The Street for Drama Series in 2007 and 2008 (with Sita Williams, Terry McDonough, John Chapman, David Blair and Ken Horn). He was presented with BAFTA’s Dennis Potter Award in 1995. PAU L A B B OT T
Loudmouth blokes with big opinions are ten a penny; men who can consistently dramatise them to provoke an international audience are rare. The biggest nod I owe to Jimmy McGovern was teaching me how to double my income by simply getting better. He’s always written women beautifully because he surrounds himself with the best of them, at home and in his company. And when I saw him recently at a funeral, I was reminded that he has one of the kindest faces I’ve ever met. He’ll always be my hero. 9
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Beau Willimon Beau Willimon’s Emmy and Golden Globe-winning political drama House of Cards marked a sea change in the television landscape when it was released in February 2013. It was simultaneously the first original content by online streaming powerhouse Netflix and the first serialized US programme to release a full original season in one go. Willimon is creator and showrunner of the truly groundbreaking series, which is based on the BBC satirical political drama from the 1990s. Now into its third season, the show charts the rise of ruthless congressman Francis Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, and his wife Claire Underwood (Robin Wright). Prior to House of Cards, Willimon’s skilful storytelling and sharp political insight found acclaim on stage and the big screen; reworking his own play Farrugut North into The Ides of March (2011), which won his adapted screenplay an Academy Award nomination. Incredibly, Farragut North was his first play, written while studying at Juilliard. 10
Saturday 03 October, 18.00 at BFI Southbank
As the creative voice behind one of the most acclaimed television dramas in recent years, Willimon’s work captures the struggle for power in modern politics, set against the backdrop of Washington DC. K E V I N S PAC E Y Beau Willimon is not just a writer of enormous gifts. He is a man with a remarkable and generous perspective on what it means to be alive. I have found working with him to be the most effective, demanding, provocative and satisfying relationship I have ever had with a playwright. And I say playwright deliberately. This is a writer who understands drama, who believes in the power of what an actor in a dark space can do with words. He understands breath, beats, pause, the music of dialogue and the value of silence; but more than that he appreciates and understands the actors’ custom. His ability to shift, rethink, change and move toward something entirely different from what he first thought is one of the qualities that makes him such a pleasure to collaborate with. The BAFTA and BFI Screenwriters’ Lecture Series
in association with The JJ Charitable Trust
E V E N T S TA F F
Nick Hornby Andrew Bovell Nancy Meyers Jimmy McGovern Beau Willimon
Series Founder and Programmer Jeremy Brock
Paul Abbott Rachel Aberly Stuart Brown Billie Browning Jenne Casarotto Lucy Chavasse Anton Corbijn Georgina Cunningham Daniel Dalton Ryan Doherty Abi Fiedler Kate Finn Lucy Guard Briony Hanson Meghan Lechette Charlie Lindsell Steve Martin Norman North Nev Pierce Deborah Reade Kate Richter Miranda Sawyer Lone Scherfig Tanya Seghatchian Kevin Spacey Francine Stock Jayne Trotman Tricia Tuttle Joe Wheatley United Airlines Warner Bros Mark Woodruff With special thanks to Kindred PR
Series Programmer Andrea Calderwood Event Programmers Katie Campbell (BAFTA) Laura Adams (BFI) Event Producers Cassandra Neal, Julia Carruthers Event Coordinators Ciara Teggart ( BAFTA) Thomas Walker, Tega Okiti (BFI) Brochure Design Joe Lawrence Brochure Editor Toby Weidmann Photo Shoot Producer Janette Dalley Portrait photography by Miriam Douglas (Nick Hornby); Randy Larcombe (Andrew Bovell); Brian Bowen Smith (Nancy Meyers cover) and Francois Duhamel (Nancy Meyers, page 8); Matt Squire ( Jimmy McGovern); and Geoffrey Hauschild (Beau Willimon). Steve Martin quote from the It’s Complicated production notes.
The Academy chooses Amadeus Primo Silk, supporting excellence in print. Publication printed on Amadeus Primo Silk 300g/m² (cover) and 170g/m² (text) supplied by Denmaur Independent Papers. www.denmaur.com
SCHEDULE AND BOOKINGS Nick Hornby An Education, Fever Pitch, Wild Wednesday 23 September, 19.30 at BAFTA 195 Piccadilly Andrew Bovell Edge of Darkness, Lantana, A Most Wanted Man Friday 25 September, 19.30 at BAFTA 195 Piccadilly Nancy Meyers Father of the Bride, Private Benjamin, Somethingâ€™s Gotta Give Saturday 26 September, 19.30 at BAFTA 195 Piccadilly Jimmy McGovern Cracker, Hillsborough, The Street Tuesday 29 September, 19.30 at BAFTA 195 Piccadilly Beau Willimon House of Cards, The Ides of March Saturday 03 October, 18.00 at BFI Southbank
H OW TO B O O K Tickets for Nick Hornby, Andrew Bovell, Nancy Meyers and Jimmy McGovern can be booked via the BAFTA website at www.bafta.org/whats-on Tickets for Beau Willimon can be booked at the BFI Southbank via www.bfi.org.uk/whatson
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On 26 September, Nancy Meyers (Father of the Bride, Private Benjamin, Something’s Gotta Give) will deliver the third in this year's BAFTA an...
Published on Sep 21, 2015
On 26 September, Nancy Meyers (Father of the Bride, Private Benjamin, Something’s Gotta Give) will deliver the third in this year's BAFTA an...