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SCREENWRITERS FESTIVAL MAGAZINE / 2014 —


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T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

W E LC OME


In 2014, for three days, over 1,000 screenwriters, filmmakers, producers, practitioners and executives congregate to share ideas and build powerful relationships. Most delegates report massive breakthroughs in their understanding of the business and craft, However, perhaps the most vital part of the festival is the inspiration and sense of belonging you will experience when you attend. Year on year, delegates report that the community is one of the main reasons they return. Have a good time!

W E LC OME T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

»You had me at hello!« — Welcome to the 5th Triennial Screenwriters Festival


D IRE CTORY T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

Directory —

»You had me at hello!« — Welcome

   03

The Exhibition     07 Session Schedule     14 Movie Schedule     22 The Art of Screenwriting: Billy Wilder

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Writers Award Nominees       41 New York Conversations: Richard Price

     66

Do you really want to be a Screenwriter?

     78

On the Rise      82

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Advice to my 18  –  Year  –  Old Self

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— Dean Devlin SAID BY CAPTAIN STEVEN »STEVE« HILLER

D IRE CTORY T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

»Let’s kick the tires and light the fires, big daddy!«


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The Exhibition — Deichtorhallen Hamburg The Museum and the Museum Store are open all days from 8:00 am – 9:00 pm


THE EXHIBITION


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THE EXHIBITION


THE EXHIBITION


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THE EXHIBITION


THE EXHIBITION


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THE EXHIBITION


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THE EXHIBITION


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SESSION SC HE D ULE

Session Schedule — Deichtorhallen Hamburg


SESSION SC HE D ULE

Edward Saxon: Opening Keynote — Saxon is best known for the film »The Silence of the Lambs«, which is, to date, the third and last film to sweep the five main categories of Academy Award for Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. His most recently released project is »Away we Go« a comedy directed by Sam Mendes and written by Dave Eggers. // 08:00 — 09:00h, Hall A Marilyn R. Atlas: I really want an agent — Award-winning producer and personal manager, Marilyn R. Atlas is equally at home in the worlds of film, television, and live theater. Among her credits as film producer are »Real Women Have Curves« for HBO, which won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, »A Certain Desire«, starring Sam Waterston, and »Echoes«, which won the Gold Award at the Texas International Film Festival. In addition to producing a variety of programming for the cable / pay TV market, Atlas has served as a production consultant on the film »Call Me«. She was also involved as a producer in the development of »Nightwalker« and »Playing for Keeps«. She is currently developing the feature »Perfekt Kill« and the

cable movie »Brides March« for Lifetime Television, and a television series. Atlas previously produced the musical version of »Real Women Have Curves« in Los Angeles in 2009. // 9:30 — 11:00h, Hall B Mylo Carbia: Pitch Panel — Considered »Hollywood’s hottest Latina Screenwriter«, by Hollywood Scriptwriter, Mylo Carbia’s very first screenplay, »Statute of Limitations«, earned her a ›three picture deal‹ and landed her on the cover of Hollywood Scriptwriter in October 2003. Since then, Mylo has worked on several major television and film projects and is currently penning the screenplay for »Maids of Havana« targeted for release in 2015. // 11:30 — 12:00h, Hall B

T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

Friday      14 / 03 ’14


SESSION SC HE D ULE

Jeremy Bernstein: Writing for the Game Industry — Jeremy is a writer and game designer who worked extensively in both video games and television. In addition to writing the hit survival-horror game »Dead Space 2«, he has written and designed games based on properties such as »House MD«, »Pretty In Pink«, and »Ben-10: Alien Force«. He recently wrote for the hit television series »Leverage«. // 12:30 — 13:00h, Hall B

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Pilar Alessandra: Pitch — Pilar Alessandra is director of the Los Angeles writing studio On the Page,

host of the »On the Page Podcast« and author of »The Coffee Break Screenwriter.« Pilar has read and analyzed thousands of scripts for companies such as DreamWorks, ImageMovers, Radar Pictures and the Robert Evans Company. Her students and clients have written for »House of Lies«, »Lost«, »Nip Tuck« and »Family Guy«. They’ve sold features and pitches to Warner Bros, DreamWorks, Disney and Sony and have won the Nicholl Fellowship and Austin Screenwriting Competition. Pilar has trained writers at ABC/Disney, CBS and Nickelodeon. // 15:30 — 17:00h, Hall B

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George Lucas — Creator of the »Star Wars« Saga and »Indiana Jones« series, George Lucas is also the critically acclaimed director of »American Graffiti«, as well as the producer of a myriad of independent films. In 1971, Lucas formed his own film company, Lucasfilm Ltd., in San Rafael, Calif. Four years later, his »Star Wars« broke all boxoffice records. // 20:00 — 22:00h, Hall A


— Jon Spaihts

SAID BY DAVID T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

SESSION SC HE D ULE

»Big things have small beginnings.«


WRITERS AWARD SHOW BY INVITATION ONLY

Saturday // 15/03 ’14 // 22:00 — 23:45h Deichtorhallen Hamburg

»Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night!« — Joseph L. Mankiewicz Hosted by Tina Fey & Mike Mills NOMINEES ALFONSO CUARÓN // TONY KUSHNER // ANDREW DOMINIC // ETAN COHEN // VINCE GILLIGAN TED ELLIOT // SPIKE JONZE // QUENTIN TARANTINO // KARL GAJDUSEK // TENRENCE PATRICK WINTER SOFIA COPPOLA // DEREK M. CIANFRANCE // BRUCE ROBINSON

JURY JOHN GATINS // RIAN JOHNSON // PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON // WES ANDERSON & ROMAN COPPOLA // DAVID MAGEE STEPHEN CHBOSKY // DAVID O. RUSSELL // KIRBY DICK // ALEX GIBNEY // DAVID BENIOFF // BRYAN COGMA GEORGE R. R. MARTIN // VANESSA TAYLOR // D.B. WEISS // GEORGE LUCAS // CHRISTOPHER NOLAN


SESSION SC HE D ULE

Josie Brown: Anatomy of a Novel Becoming a TV Pilot — Her novel, »Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives«, is being produced by Jerry Bruckheimer as a television series. // 10:30 — 12:00h, Hall B Karl Iglesias: Dialogue — Karl Iglesias teaches at UCLA Extension’s Writer’s Program, where he received the »Outstanding Screenwriting Instructor« award in 2010, and online at Screenwriters University. He is a screenwriter and sought-after script doctor and consultant, specializing in the reader’s emotional response to the page, and the author of the bestselling »Writing For Emotional Impact« and »The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters«. He is also a contributor to the upcoming UCLA book »Cut to the Chase«, to be released on August 6, 2013. // 12:30 — 13:30h, Hall B Ruth Atkinson: Rewrite — Ruth Atkinson is a Los Angeles-based script consultant and story editor with over 20 years of experience in the film/television business. Ruth has story edited and consulted on many films distributed internationally including Jonas Chernick’s My Awkward Sexual Adventure, multiaward winning short »Lil Toyko Reporter«, »The Perfect Family« starring Kathleen Turner, celebrated indie »The People I’ve Slept With«, Genie-nominated »Who Loves the Sun« starring Molly Parker and Adam Scott, and the New Zealand hit »Predicament« starring Jemaine Clement. Ruth also evaluates submissions to the Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Screenwriting Lab and is a

screenwriting instructor for Project Involve, Film Independent’s signature diversity program where she helps develop short film scripts which are produced and showcased at the Los Angeles Film Festival. // 15:00 — 16:00h, Hall B Robbie Fox: Tips & Tricks of the Trade — Robbie Fox studied Theater at Northwestern and Film at NYU. His screenplays include »So I Married An Axe Murderer« with Mike Myers, »In The Army Now« with Pauly Shore, »Shooting Elizabeth« with Jeff Goldblum and most recently »Playing For Keeps« with Gerard Butler and Jessica Biel. He has also done production rewrites on »My Girl« with Dan Aykroyd and Disney’s animated »Runaway Brain«. For the theater he wrote »The Gift« directed by Herbert Ross at the Manhattan Theater Club in New York and later by Andy Fickman at the Tiffany Theater. He is currently writing »Christmas Neverending« for Hallmark which he will direct this Fall. // 16:30 — 17:00h, Hall B

T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

Saturday   15 / 03 ’14


SESSION SC HE D ULE

Michael Hauge: Character — Michael Hauge is a story consultant, author and lecturer who works with writers, filmmakers and public speakers, both in Hollywood and around the world. Michael is the best selling author of »Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds: The Guaranteed Way to Get Your Screenplay or Novel Read« // 17:30 — 18:00h, Hall B

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Karl Iglesias: Dialogue — Karl Iglesias teaches at UCLA Extension’s Writer’s Program, where he received the Outstanding Screenwriting Instructor award

in 2010, and online at Screenwriters University. He is a screenwriter and sought-after script doctor and consultant, specializing in the reader’s emotional response to the page, and the author of the critically-acclaimed and best-selling »Writing For Emotional Impact« and »The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters«. He is also a contributor to »Now Write! Screenwriting« and the upcoming UCLA book »Cut to the Chase«, to be released on August 6, 2013. // 18:30 — 19:00h, Hall B

Sofia Coppola: Lost in Transcription — As the daughter of the famous director Francis Coppola who made »The Godfather« films, Sofia Coppola is a screenwriter, producer, director and actor. She wrote and directed the 1998 film »The Virgin Suicides«. Her directorial work for »Lost in Translation« won an Oscar. She became the first American woman to win the Golden Lion. // 20:00 — 21:00h, Hall A


SESSION SC HE D ULE

Jacob Krüger: Fix your Pitch — The founder of Jacob Krüger Studio, Jacob has worked with all kinds of writers, from Academy and Tony Award Winners, to young writers picking up the pen for the first time. His writing includes »The Matthew Shepard Story«, for which he won the Writers Guild of America Paul Selvin Award and was nominated for a Gemini Award for Best Screenplay. // 10:30 — 11:00h, Hall B Sande Chen: Writing for the Game Industrie — Her writing credits include 1999 Independent Games Festival winner Terminus and the 2007 PC RPG of the Year. In 2006, she was profiled as one of the game industry’s top 100 most influential women for her work as Director of Girls in Games, Inc. She has spoken about games at conferences around the globe, including the Game Developers Conference, SXSW, and LOGIN. She also has a Grammy nomination. // 16:30 — 17:00h, Hall B

Robbie Fox: Tips & Tricks of the Trade — Robbie Fox studied Theater at Northwestern and Film at NYU. His screenplays include »So I Married An Axe Murderer« with Mike Myers, »In The Army Now« with Pauly Shore, »Shooting Elizabeth« with Jeff Goldblum and most recently »Playing For Keeps« with Gerard Butler and Jessica Biel. He has also done production rewrites on »My Girl« with Dan Aykroyd and Disney’s animated »Runaway Brain«. For the theater he wrote »The Giftv« directed by Herbert Ross at the Manhattan Theater Club in New York and later by Andy Fickman at the Tiffany Theater. He is currently writing »Christmas Neverending« for Hallmark which he will direct this Fall. // 11:30 — 12:00h, Hall B

Kathie Fong Yoneda: Web Series — Kathie Fong Yoneda is an entertainment consultant specializing in development and marketing of live action and animated film, television, literary, and web projects. A former exec at Touchstone, Island Pictures, Disney, and Disney TV Animation, she has taught workshops worldwide. // 12:30 — 13:00h, Hall B

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Sunday    15 / 03 ’14


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Richard Botto: Getting Past the Reader — Richard Botto is the CEO of Stage 32, a social media website for film, television, and theater creatives boasting over 100,000 members from more than 180 countries. He is also a screenwriter, producer, and actor. His latest script, »The End Game«, is currently in preproduction. Botto was a producer on Sam Levinson’s first film, »Another Happy Day« [Ellen Barkin, Demi Moore, Thomas Hayden Church], which premiered – and won the screenwriting award – at Sundance. Prior to starting Stage 32, Botto was the founder and editor of RAZOR magazine, a national men’s lifestyle magazine. // 14:00 — 15:00h, Hall B

Andrew Guerdat: Develop TV Shows — Andy Guerdat is a TV writer/producer whose credits include »Head Of The Class«, »9 to 5«, »Sister, Sister«, »Boy Meets World«, »Empty Nest«, and »Herman’s Head«, which he cocreated. His films and MOWs include »Fourth Story«, »Dance ‘Til Dawn« and he has sold screenplays to Disney, MGM, Fox, among others. // 15:30 — 16:00h, Hall B

Closing Keynote: Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus — They are the screenwriters behind Marvel Studios’ »Captain America: The First Avenger« and »Thor: The Dark World.« Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus just completed production on »Captain America: The Winter Soldier«, set for release in April 2014. Previously, they have written such diverse films as »The Life And Death of Peter Sellers«, »You Kill Me«, and all three »Chronicles of Narnia« installments. They recently penned Michael Bay’s controversial true crime film, »Pain & Gain.« // 17:00 — 18:00h, Hall A


Hall

Movie

Runtime

Friday14 / 03 ’14

18:00

02

Gravity

91 Minutes

20:30

05

Lincoln

150 Minutes

22:30

02

Killing them Softly

97 Minutes

23:30

06

Men in Black 3

106 Minutes

Saturday 15 / 03 ’14

18:00

06

Pirates of the Carribean 4

136 Minutes

20:30

02

Her

126 Minutes

22:30

05

Django Unchained

180 Minutes

23:30

06

Oblivion

124 Minutes

18:00

05

The Wolf of Wall Street

180 Minutes

20:30

06

The Bling Ring

90 Minutes

22:30

02

The Place beyond the Pines

140 Minutes

23:30

06

The Rum Diary

120 Minutes

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Time

Sunday 16 / 03 ’14

MOV IEA SC HE D ULE

Movie Schedule — CinemaxX Dammtor


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I NTE RV IE W — BILLY W ILD E R: THE A RT OF SC REENW RITING


Billy Wilder, one of American cinema’s premiere writer-directors, has always maintained that movies are »authored«, and has always felt that much of a film’s direction ideally should take place in the writing. Like many of the medium’s great filmmakers, Wilder began his career as a writer, yet he is unique in the extent of his involvement in the development of the material he has directed. Indeed, he has cowritten all twenty-four of his films. Samuel »Billy« Wilder was born June 22, 1906 in Vienna, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After years as a reporter — highlighted by a single day during which he interviewed Richard Straus, Arthur Schnitzler, Alfred Adler, and Sigmund Freud — Wilder gravitated to Berlin. There he worked as a crime reporter, drama critic, and [so he claims] gigolo, before he began to produce scenarios for the booming German film industry, finally writing over two hundred, including the notable precursor of neorealism, People on Sunday [1929]. Wilder, driven by Hitler’s ascendancy, left Berlin; his mother, grandmother, and stepfather, who stayed in Vienna, perished later in the Holocaust. He arrived in Hollywood, with only a temporary visa and

almost no English, to share a room and a can of soup a day with the actor Peter Lorre. Later he upgraded his quarters to a vestibule near the woman’s restroom at the Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard. Wilder began his American career at a moment when studios had begun to let some screenwriters direct their own scripts — or, as one film executive said, let the lunatics take over the asylum — a phenomenon that sparked the careers of a number of remarkable writer-directors [Preston Sturges, John Huston, Joseph Mankiewicz]. At the time, Ernst Lubitsch, an émigré from the earlier, silent, period, was head of production at Paramount, where Wilder first flourished, the only time a filmmaker has been in charge of a major studio. As a contract writer at Paramount, Wilder cowrote a number of films with Charles Brackett, among them »Ball of Fire«, directed by Howard Hawks, »Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife« and »Ninotchka«, both directed by Lubitsch. Although he credits the experience of working with Lubitsch for teaching him much of what he knew about film, Wilder grew increasingly exasperated by the misinterpretation of his work by lesser filmmakers. He resolved to become a director himself.

Billy Wilder, 1961: »Thank you so much, you lovely discerning people. Thank you.« — Billy Wilder accepting his directing trophy for »The Apartment«, which earned a total of five Oscars that night. Wilder also won the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1987 at the 60th Academy Awards.

Wilder’s films show an extraordinary range, from film noir to screwball comedy. Although he claims that as a director he aspired to an unobtrusive style of shooting, all his films, nonetheless are marked by a singular vision — elegant dramatization of character through action, distinctive dialogue, and a sour/ sweet, or even misanthropic, view of humanity — qualities that stem, for the most part, from the writing. Wilder’s credits as a director and cowriter include »Double Indemnity«, »Sunset Boulevard«, »Sabrina«, »Ace in the Hole«, »Stalag 17«, »The Lost Weekend«, »Some Like it Hot«, and »The Apartment«. Four films

I NTE RV IE W — BILLY W ILD E R: THE A RT OF SC REENW RITING T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

Billy Wilder, The Art of Screenwriting — Interviewed by James Linville


I NTE RV IE W — BILLY W ILD E R: THE A RT OF SC REENW RITING T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

directed and cowritten by Wilder have been selected by the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress for recognition and preservation. Only director John Ford, with five, has more. The office where he goes every weekday is a simple suite on the second floor of a low-rise office building. On the wall across from his desk, in gilt letters eight inches high is the question: »How would Lubitsch do it?« A day bed, like an analyst’s couch, is set against one wall. The opposite wall is decorated with personal photos, including a number of him with some of cinema’s other great writer-directors – John Huston, Akira Kurosawa, and Federico Fellini. Wilder points out a Polaroid collage depicting a paper-strewn desk – »David Hockney’s portrait of my office« – and then, with mercurial amusement, a number of his own creations: a goofy series of plaster casts of a bust of Nefertiti, each painted and decorated with the distinctive features of a number of cultural figures – a Groucho Nefertiti, an Einstein Nefertiti, a Little Tramp Nefertiti. Wilder mentions with some pride the »one-man show« of these figurines that had been presented at a gallery nearby. Asked about his noted art collection, Wilder says, »I didn’t get rich as a director, I got rich selling art. Thirty-four million dollars to be exact, when it went on sale at Christie’s.« When asked for tips on collecting he says, »Sure, don’t collect. Buy what you like, hold onto it, enjoy it.« Later he would offer a number of other get-rich tips: »Back some pornographic films and then, as a hedge to balance your investment should family values rise, buy stock in Disney.« Also, »Bet consistently against the Los Angeles Rams.« A restless man, taller than expected, Wilder wears large glasses, and conducts himself with the air of a benevolent, even exuberant, dictator. When firmly settled in a large chair behind his desk, he says, »Now, you wanted to ask me a a question?«

INTERVIEWER: You’re known as a writer and director for your sharp eye. Could that have anything to do with your sense of yourself as an outsider? BILLY WILDER: Everything was new to me when I arrived in America, so I looked closely. I had arrived in the country on a six-month visitor’s visa, and I had great difficulty obtaining an immigration visa that would allow me to stay on. Also, the status of my English was rather poor. I couldn’t rearrange the furniture in my mouth – the tonsils, the curved palate. I’ve never lost my accent. Ernst Lubitsch, who came in 1922, had a much heavier accent than mine, as did Otto Preminger. Children can get the pronunciation in a few weeks, but English is a tough language because there are so many letters in words that are totally useless. Though and through. And tough! Coming to the American movie industry at a time when many distinguished German directors were working, did you feel part of a special group? There were some excellent German directors, led by Mr. Lubitsch, but I simply met him and shook his hand; he had no interest in me when I arrived. In fact, he was very reluctant to give jobs to Germans; it was only four years later that he hired me. I had written some pictures in Germany, usually working alone. But when I came here I had to have a collaborator on account of my unsteady English and my knowledge of only about three hundred words. Later I found that if I had a good collaborator it was very pleasant to talk to somebody and not come into an empty office. The head of the writers’ department at Paramount had the good idea to pair me with Charles Brackett, a distinguished man from the East, who had gone to Harvard Law School and was about fifteen years older than I. I liked working with him. He was a very good man. He was a member of the Algonquin round table. He had been the movie critic or theater critic on The New Yorker in the beginning, the twenties.

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One day, Brackett and I were called in to see Lubitsch. He told us he was thinking vaguely about doing an adaptation of a French play about a millionaire – a very straightforward law-abiding guy, who would never have an affair with a woman unless he was married to her. So he married seven times! That would be Gary Cooper. Claudette Colbert was to be the woman who was in love with him, who’d insist »I’ll marry you, but only to be the final wife.« As the meeting was being adjourned, I said, I have a meetcute for your story. [A »meet-cute« was a staple of


romantic comedies back then, where boy meets girl in a particular way, and sparks fly.] Let’s say your millionaire is an American who is very stingy. He goes to a department store in Nice on the French Riviera where he wants to buy a pajama top, but just the top, because he never wears the pants. She has come to the same counter to buy pajamas for her father, who as it happens only wears the pants. That broke the ice, and we were put to work on that picture, which became »Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife«. Lubitsch, of course, would always find a way to make something better. He put another twist on that meeting. Brackett and I were at Lubitsch’s house working, when during a break he emerged from the bathroom and said, What if when Gary Cooper comes in to the store to buy the pajama top, the salesman gets the floor manager, and Cooper again explains he only wants to buy the top. The floor manager says, Absolutely not, but when he sees Cooper will not be stopped, the floor manager says, Maybe I could talk to the store manager. The store manager says, That’s unheard of! but ends up calling the department store’s owner, whom he disturbs in bed. We see the owner in a close shot go to get the phone. He says, It’s an outrage! And as the owner goes back to his bed you see that he doesn’t wear pajama pants either. When you first met Lubitsch over lunch, did you think of that meet-cute on the spot? No, I already had that. I had been hoping to use it for something, and when he told us the story of the picture I saw how it might fit. I had dozens of meetcutes. Whenever I thought of one I’d put it in a little notebook. Back then they were de rigeur, a staple of screwball comedies. Every comedy writer was wor-

king on his meet-cutes; but of course we don’t do that anymore. Later, I did a version of the meet-cute for The Apartment, where Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, who when they see each other every day have this little routine together. And in Sabrina, where she reappears and the younger Larrabee, William Holden, doesn’t recognize her – him not recognizing her becomes a kind of meet-cute. When Sydney Pollack was remaking that movie, I told him they should make the Larrabee family’s company a bankrupt company, and Sabrina’s competition for the younger Larrabee the daughter of a Japanese prospective-buyer. You have a gold-framed legend on the wall across from your desk. How Would Lubitsch do it? When I would write a romantic comedy along the Lubitschian line, if I got stopped in the middle of a scene, I’d think, »How would Lubitsch do it?« Well, how did he do it? One example I can give you of Lubitsch’s thinking was in Ninotchka, a romantic comedy that Brackett and I wrote for him. Ninotchka was to be a really straight Leninist, a strong and immovable Russian commissar, and we were wondering how we could dramatize that she, without wanting to, was falling in love. How could we do it? Charles Brackett and I wrote twenty pages, thirty pages, forty pages! All very laboriously. Lubitsch didn’t like what we’d done, didn’t like it at all. So he called us in to have another conference at his house. We talked about it, but of course we were still, well... blocked. In any case, Lubitsch excused himself to go to the bathroom, and when he came back into the living room he announced, Boys, I’ve got it.

I NTE RV IE W — BILLY W ILD E R: THE A RT OF SC REENW RITING T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

»Lubitsch, of course, would always find a way to make something better.«


I NTE RV IE W — BILLY W ILD E R: THE A RT OF SC REENW RITING T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

»It’s funny, but we noticed that whenever he came up with an idea, I mean a really great idea, it was after he came out of the can. I started to suspect that he had a little ghostwriter in the bowl of the toilet there.«

It’s funny, but we noticed that whenever he came up with an idea, I mean a really great idea, it was after he came out of the can. I started to suspect that he had a little ghostwriter in the bowl of the toilet there. I’ve got the answer, he said. It’s the hat. The hat? No, what do you mean the hat? He explained that when Ninotchka arrives in Paris the porter is about to carry her things from the train. She asks, »Why would you want to carry these? Aren’t you ashamed?« He says, »It depends on the tip.« She says, »You should be ashamed. It’s undignified for a man to carry someone else’s things. I’ll carry them myself.«

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At the Ritz Hotel, where the three other commissars are staying, there’s a long corridor of windows showing various objects. Just windows, no store. She passes one window with three crazy hats. She stops in front of it and says, »That is ludicrous. How can a civilization of people that put things like that on their head survive?« Later she plans to see the sights of Paris – the Louvre, the Alexandre III Bridge, the Place de la Concorde. Instead she’ll visit the electricity works, the factories, gathering practical things they can put to use back in Moscow. On the way out of the hotel she passes that window again with the three crazy hats. Now the story starts to develop between Ninotchka, or Garbo, and Melvyn Douglas, all sorts of little things that add up, but we haven’t seen the change yet. She opens the window of her hotel room overlooking the Place Vendôme. It’s beautiful, and she smiles. The three commissars come to her room. They’re finally prepared to get down to work. But she says, »No, no, no, it’s too

beautiful to work. We have the rules, but they have the weather. Why don’t you go to the races. It’s Sunday. It’s beautiful in Longchamps«, and she gives them money to gamble. As they leave for the track at Longchamps, she locks the door to the suite, then the door to the room. She goes back into the bedroom, opens a drawer, and out of the drawer she takes the craziest of the hats! She picks it up, puts it on, looks at herself in the mirror. That’s it. Not a word. Nothing. But she has fallen into the trap of capitalism, and we know where we’re going from there... all from a half page of description and one line of dialogue. »Beautiful weather. Why don’t you go have yourselves a wonderful day?« He returned from the bathroom with all this? Yes, and it was like that whenever we were stuck. I guess now I feel he didn’t go often enough. You’ve indicated where Lubitsch got his ideas. Where do you get yours? I don’t know. I just get them. Some of them in the toilet, I’m afraid. I have a black book here with all sorts of entries. A little bit of dialogue I’ve overheard. An idea for a character. A bit of background. Some boymeets-girl scenarios. While I was working with Mr. Lemmon for the first time on »Some Like It Hot«, I thought to myself, This guy’s got a little bit of genius. I would love to make another picture with him, but I don’t have a story. So I looked in my little black book and I came across a note about David Lean’s movie Brief Encounter, that story about a married woman who lives in the country,


Sunset Boulevard? For a long time I wanted to do a comedy about Hollywood. God forgive me, I wanted to have Mae West and Marlon Brando. Look what became of that idea! Instead it became a tragedy of a silent-picture actress, still rich, but fallen down into the abyss after talkies. »I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.« I had that line early on. Someplace else I had the idea for a writer who is down on his luck. It didn’t quite fall into place until we got Gloria Swanson. We had gone to Pola Negri first. We called her on the phone, and there was too much Polish accent. You see why some of these people didn’t make the transition to sound. We went to Pickfair and visited Mary Pickford. Brackett began to tell her the story, because he was the more serious one. I stopped him: »No, don’t do it.« I waved him off. She was going to be insulted if we told her she was to play a woman who begins a love affair with a man half her age. I said to her, »We’re very sorry, but it’s no use. The story gets very vulgar.« Gloria Swanson had been a big star, in command of an entire studio. She worked with DeMille. Once she was dressed, her hair done to perfection, they placed her on a sedan and two strong men would carry her onto the set so no curl would be displaced. But later she did a couple of sound pictures that were terrible. When I gave her the script, she said, I must do this, and she turned out to be an absolute angel. I used stars wherever I could in »Sunset Boulevard.« I used Cecil B. DeMille to play the big important studio director. I used Erich von Stroheim to play the director who directed the first pictures with Swanson, which he in fact did. I thought, Now, if there is a bridge game at the house of a silent star, and if I am to show that our hero, the writer, has been degraded to being the butler who cleans ashtrays, who would be there? I got Harry B. Warner, who played Jesus in DeMille’s biblical pictures, Anna Q. Nilsson, and

Did you ever feel disappointed with your results, that the picture you had imagined or even written hadn’t turned out? Sure, I’ve made blunders, for God’s sake. Sometimes you lay an egg, and people will say, It was too early. Audiences weren’t ready for it. Bullshit. If it’s good, it’s good. If it’s bad, it’s bad. The tragedy of the picture maker, as opposed to the playwright, is that for the playwright the play debuts in Bedford, Massachusetts, and then you take it to Pittsburgh. If it stinks you bury it. If you examine the credits of Moss Hart or George Kaufman, no one ever brings up the play that bombed in the provinces and was buried after four shows. With a picture that doesn’t work, no matter how stupid and how bad, they’re still going to try to squeeze every single penny out of it. You go home one night and turn on the TV and suddenly, there on television, staring back at you, on prime time, that lousy picture, that thing, is back! We don’t bury our dead; we keep them around smelling badly. Is there one you have in mind? Now, I do have to admit I was disappointed by the lack of success of some pictures I thought were good, such as Ace in the Hole. I liked the movie very much but it did not generate any »must-see« mood in audiences. On the other hand, sometimes you’ll have a rough time, and the film will turn out all right. On Sabrina I had a very rough time with Humphrey Bogart. It was the first time he’d worked with Paramount. Every evening after shooting, people would have a drink in my office, and a couple of times I forgot to invite him. He was very angry and never forgave me. Sometimes when you finish a picture you just don’t know whether it’s good or bad. When Frank Capra was shooting Claudette Colbert in »It Happened One Night«, after the last shot she said, »Will that be all Mr. Capra?« »We’re all done.« »Allright. Now why don’t you go and fuck yourself.«

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I had made that note ten years earlier, I couldn’t touch it because of censorship, but suddenly there it was – The Apartment – all suggested by this note and by the qualities of an actor with whom I wanted to make my next picture. It was ideal for Lemmon, the combination of sweet and sour. I liked it when someone called that picture a dirty fairytale.

Buster Keaton, who was an excellent bridge player, a tournament player. The picture industry was only fifty or sixty years old, so some of the original people were still around. Because old Hollywood was dead, these people weren’t exactly busy. They had the time, got some money, a little recognition. They were delighted to do it.

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comes to London, and meets a man. They have an affair in his friend’s apartment. What I had written was, what about the friend who has to crawl back into that warm bed?


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She thought the picture was shit, but she won the Academy Award for it. So you’re never quite sure how your work will be received or the course your career will take. We knew we’d gotten a strong reaction at the first big preview of »Sunset Boulevard.« After the screening, Barbara Stanwyck went up and kissed the hem of Gloria Swanson’s robe, or dress, or whatever she was wearing that night. Gloria had given such an incredible performance. Then in the big Paramount screening room, Louis B. Mayer said loudly, »We need to kick Wilder out of America if he’s going to bite the hand that feeds him.« He was with his contingent from MGM, the king then, but in front of all his department heads, I told him just what he could do. I walked out just as the reception was starting.

The screenplay by Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond is based on the play »L'Ora della Fantasia« by Anna Bonacci, which had inspired »Wife For a Night«, an Italian film starring Gina Lollobrigida.

Although the movie was a great success, it was about Hollywood, exaggerated and dramatized, and it really hit a nerve. So on the way down the steps I had to pass all those people from MGM, the class studio... all those people who thought this picture would soil the taste of Hollywood.

figure out what bit of the story we’d tell in those ten pages of the scene.

After Sunset Boulevard, Brackett and I parted friends. Twelve years together, but the split had been coming. It’s like a box of matches: you pick up the match and strike it against the box, and there’s always fire, but then one day there is just one small corner of that abrasive paper left for you to strike the match on. It was not there anymore. The match wasn’t striking. One of us said, Look, whatever I have to give and whatever you have to offer, it’s just not enough. We can end on the good note of »Sunset Boulevard.« A picture that was revolutionary for its day. How do collaborators work together? Brackett and I used to share two offices together with a secretary in between. When we were writing he always laid down on the couch in my office while I would walk around with a stick in my hand.

Was it the same working with I.A.L. Diamond? Pretty much the same as with Brackett. Discuss the story, break it down into scenes, and then I would dictate and he would type. Or he would sit there thinking, and I would write on a yellow tablet and show it to him. »How’s this?« I’d say. »No good«, he’d say. Never in an insistent way. Or he might suggest something to me, and I’d shake my head. He’d just take it, tear it up, and put it in the wastebasket, and we’d never come back to it. We had a great deal of trust in each other. But sometimes with writing you just can’t tell, especially if you’re writing under pressure. Diamond and I were writing the final scene of »Some Like It Hot« the week before we shot it. We’d come to the situation where Lemmon tries to convince Joe B. Brown that he cannot marry him. »Why?« Brown says.

Why the stick?

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»Because I smoke!« I don’t know. I just needed something to keep my hands busy and a pencil wasn’t long enough. He always had the yellow legal tablet, and he wrote in longhand, then we’d hand it to the secretary. Brackett and I would discuss everything, the picture as a whole, the curtain situations – first act, second act and then the end of the picture – and the curtain lines. Then we would break it down and go to a specific scene and discuss the mood and so forth, then we’d

»That’s all right as far as I’m concerned.« Finally Lemmon rips his wig off and yells at him, »I’m a boy! Because I’m a boy!« Diamond and I were in our room, waiting for the next line – Joe B. Brown’s response, the final line, the curtain line of the film – to come to us. Then I heard


— Billy Wilder

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»Get out of here, I’ve got a job to do.«


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Yes. Chandler had never been inside a studio. He was writing for one of the hard-boiled serial magazines, »The Black Mask« – the original pulp fiction – and he’d been stringing tennis rackets to make ends meet. Just before then, James M. Cain had written »The Postman Always Rings Twice«, and then a similar story, »Double Indemnity«, which was serialized in three or four installments in the late Liberty magazine. Paramount bought »Double Indemnity«, and I was eager to work with Cain, but he was tied up working on a pic-

Holy shit, we said. We usually took five to six months on a script. »Don’t worry«, he said. He had no idea that I was not only the director but was supposed to write it with him. He came back in ten days with eighty pages of absolute bullshit. He had some good phrases of dialogue, but they must have given him a script written by someone who wanted to be a director. He’d put in directions for fade-ins, dissolves, all kinds of camera moves to show he’d grasped the technique. I sat him down and explained we’d have to work together. We always met at nine o’clock, and would quit at about four-thirty. I had to explain a lot to him as we went along, but he was very helpful to me. What we were doing together had real electricity. He was a very, very good writer – but not of scripts.

»Sometimes you lay an egg, and people will say, it was too early. Audiences weren’t ready for it. Bullshit. If it’s good, it’s good. If it’s bad, it’s bad.« ture at Fox called Western Union. A producer-friend brought me some Chandler stories from »The Black Mask.« You could see the man had a wonderful eye. I remember two lines from those stories especially: »Nothing is emptier than an empty swimming pool.« The other is when Marlowe goes to Pasadena in the middle of the summer and drops in on a very old man who is sitting in a greenhouse covered in three blankets. He says, »Out of his ears grew hair long enough to catch a moth.« A great eye... but then you don’t know if that will work in pictures because the details in writing have to be photographable. I said to Joe Sistrom, »Let’s give him a try.« Chandler came into the studio, and we gave him the Cain story »Double Indemnity« to read. He came back the next day: »I read that story. It’s absolute shit!« He hated Cain because of Cain’s big success with »The Postman

One morning, I’m sitting there in the office, ten o’clock and no Chandler. Eleven o’clock. At eleventhirty, I called Joe Sistrom, the producer of »Double Indemnity« and asked, What happened to Chandler? »I was going to call you. I just got a letter from him in which he resigns.« Apparently he had resigned because, while we were sitting in the office with the sun shining through, I had asked him to close the curtains and I had not said please. He accused me of having as many as three martinis at lunch. Furthermore, he wrote that he found it very disconcerting that Mr. Wilder gets two, three, sometimes even four calls from obviously young girls. Naturally. I would take a phone call, three or four minutes, to say, »Let’s meet at that restaurant there«,

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I understand your collaboration with Raymond Chandler was more difficult?

Always Rings Twice.« He said, »Well, I’ll do it anyway. Give me a screenplay so I can familiarize myself with the format. This is Friday. Do you want it a week from Monday?«

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Diamond say, »Nobody’s perfect.« I thought about it and I said, Well, let’s put in »Nobody’s perfect« for now. But only for the time being. We have a whole week to think about it. We thought about it all week. Neither of us could come up with anything better, so we shot that line, still not entirely satisfied When we screened the movie, that line got one of the biggest laughs I’ve ever heard in the theater. But we just hadn’t trusted it when we wrote it; we just didn’t see it. »Nobody’s perfect.« The line had come too easily, just popped out.


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or, »Let’s go for a drink here.« He was about twenty years older than I was. And I was on the phone with girls! Sex was rampant then, but I was just looking out for myself. Later, in a biography he said all sorts of nasty things about me – that I was a Nazi, that I was uncooperative and rude, and God knows what. Maybe the antagonism even helped. He was a peculiar guy, but I was very glad to have worked with him. Why have so many novelists and playwrights from the East, people like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Dorothy Parker, had such a terrible time out here? Well, because they were hired for very big amounts of money. I remember those days in New York when one writer would say to the other, I’m broke. I’m going to go to Hollywood and steal another fifty thousand. Moreover, they didn’t know what movie writing entailed. You have to know the rules before you break them, and they simply didn’t school themselves. I’m not just talking about essayists or newspapermen; it was even the novelists. None of them took it seriously, and when they would be confronted by their superior, the producer or the director, who had a louder voice and the weight of the studio behind him, they were not particularly interested in taking advice. Their idea was, Well, crap, everybody in America has got a screenplay inside them – the policeman around the corner here, the waiter in Denver. Everybody. And his sister! I’ve seen ten movies. Now, if they would only let me do it my way... But it’s not that easy. To begin to make even a mediocre film you have to learn the rules. You have to know about timing, about creating characters, a little about camera position, just enough to know if what you’re suggesting is possible. They pooh-poohed it.

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I remember Fitzgerald when he was working at Paramount and I was there working with Brackett. Brackett, who was from the East, had written novels and plays, and had been at Paramount for years. Brackett and I used to take breaks and go to a little coffee joint across the street from the studio. Oblath’s! we used to say. The only place in the world you can get a greasy Tom Collins. Whenever we saw Scott Fitzgerald there, we’d talk with him, but he never once asked us anything about writing screenplays. Pictures are something like plays. They share an architecture and a spirit. A good picture writer is a kind of poet, but a poet who plans his structure like a craftsman and is able to tell what’s wrong with the third act. What a veteran screenwriter produces might not be good, but it would be technically correct; if he has a problem in the third act he certainly

knows to look for the seed of the problem in the first act. Scott just didn’t seem particularly interested in any of these matters. Faulkner seemed to have his difficulties too. I heard he was hired by MGM, was at the studio for three months, quit and went back home; MGM never figured it out and they kept sending the checks down to Mississippi. A friend of mine was hired by MGM to do a script and he inherited the office where Faulkner had been working. In the desk he found a yellow legal pad with three words on it: Boy. Girl. Policeman. But Faulkner did some work. At some point he worked with Howard Hawks on »To Have and Have Not«, and he cowrote »The Land of the Pharaohs.« On that movie they went way over schedule with production and far past their estimated costs. On screen, there were thousands of slaves dragging enormous stones to build the pyramids. It was like an ant heap. When they finally finished the film and screened it for Jack Warner, Warner said to Hawks, »Well, Howard, if all the people who are in the picture come to see it, we may break even.« But there were other writers out here who were clever and good and made a little fortune. The playwrights Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, for example. Hecht truly endeared himself to the people he worked with. A producer or director would be in a jam... the set built, the leads hired, the shooting begun, only to admit to themselves finally that the script they had was unusable. They would bring out Hecht, and he would lie in bed at Charles Lederer’s house and on a yellow tablet produce a pile of sheets, a screenplay ready to go. They’d take that night’s pages from Hecht’s hands, forward them to Mr. Selznick, who’d fiddle with them, have the pages mimeographed and put in the actor’s hands by morning. It was a crazy way to work, but Hecht took the work very seriously, though not as seriously as he would a play of his. They call that sort of thing script doctoring. If Hecht had wanted, he could have had credit on a hundred more pictures. Does the script you’ve written change as you direct it? As someone who directed scripts that I myself had cowritten, what I demanded from actors was very simple: learn your lines. That reminds me. George Bernard Shaw was directing a production of his play Pygmalion, with a very wellknown illustrious actor, Sir Something.


The fellow came to rehearsal, a little bit drunk, and he began to invent a little. Shaw listened for a while and then yelled, »Stop! For Christ’s sake, why the hell didn’t you learn the script?« Sir Something said, »What on earth are you talking about? I know my lines.« Shaw screamed back at him, »Yes, you know your lines, but you don’t know my lines.« On a picture, I would ask the actors to know their lines. Sometimes they would study the part at night and might ask me to come by to discuss things. In the morning, we would sit in chairs around a long table off to the side and read the day’s scene once more. It was wonderful to work with some actors. Jack Lemmon. If we were to start at nine, he’d be there at eight-fifteen with a mug of coffee and his pages from the night before. He’d say, Last night I was running lines with Felicia – his wife – and had this wonderful idea. What do you think here? And he’d go on. It might be wonderful and we’d use it, or I might just look at him, and then he’d say, Well, I don’t like it either. He worked hard and had many ideas, but he never was interfering.

nex, and the Writers Annex Annex. All of us were writing! We were not getting big salaries but we were writing. It was fun. We made a little money. Some like Ben Hecht made a lot of money. All the writers were required to hand in eleven pages every Thursday. Why on Thursday? Who knows? Why eleven pages? Who knows? Over a thousand pages a week were being written. It was all very tightly controlled. We even worked on Saturdays from nine until noon, knocking off half a day so we could watch USC or UCLA play football in the Coliseum. When the unions negotiated the workweek back to five days, the executives ran around screaming the studio was going to go broke. There was one guy at the studio whom all the writers turned in their work to. Everyone at the start of the magazine had the option of getting something like seventy-five dollars a week or part of his salary in time stock. Some buildings at Yale were built by people who went for the stock. Our guy at Paramount used to say proudly, I went for the cash. What happened to the thousand-plus pages a week that were being generated?

Sometimes I’d have an actor so stubborn that I’d say, All right, let’s do it two ways. We’d do it my way, and I’d say to my assistant, Print that. Then to the actor, All right, now your way. We’d do it his way with no celluloid in the camera.

Most of the writing just gathered dust. There were five or six producers, each specializing in different kinds of pictures. They would read the writing over the weekend and make comments.

What was it like working as a writer for a studio?

What were the producers’ comments like?

When I was a writer at Paramount, the studio had a swarm of writers under contract – a hundred and four! They worked in the Writers Building, the Writers An-

I was talking once with a writer who had worked at Columbia who showed me a script that had just been read by Samuel Briskin, one of the big men at that

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»I was talking once with a writer who had worked at Columbia who showed me a script that had just been read by Samuel Briskin, one of the big men at that studio. I looked at the script. On every page, there was at the bottom just one word: improve.«


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»In production, they just go wildly ahead. If the star has another picture coming up, and they need to finish the picture by Monday, they’ll just tear out ten pages. «

studio. I looked at the script. On every page, there was at the bottom just one word: improve.

»Who plays the lead?« »Jimmy Cagney.« As it happens, it was his last picture except for that cameo in Ragtime.

Like The New Yorker editor Harold Ross’s imperative »make better.«

She said, »Who?«

That would be one word too many for these producers. Just improve.

»Jimmy Cagney. You know, the little gangster who for years was in all those Warner Brothers...«

What about the »Scheherazades« one hears about?

»Oh! Daddy didn’t allow us to watch Warner Brothers pictures.« She had no idea who he was.

They were the guys who would tell producers stories, or the plots of screenplays and books. There was one guy who never wrote a word but who came up with ideas. One of them was: San Francisco. 1906 earthquake. Nelson Eddy. Jeanette McDonald. »Great! Terrific! Cheers from the producers.« A film came out of that sentence. Do you know how Nelson Eddy ended up with his name? He was Eddie Nelson. He just reversed it. Don’t laugh! Eddie Nelson is nothing. Nelson Eddy was a star.

Back then, each studio had a certain look. You could walk in in the middle of a picture and tell what studio it was. Warner Brothers were mostly gangster movies. For a while Universal did a lot of horror pictures. MGM you knew because everything was white. Mr. Cedric Gibbons, the head of production design, wanted everything white silk no matter where it was set. If MGM had produced Mr. Scorsese’s »Mean Streets«, Cedric Gibbons would have designed all of Little Italy in white.

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Film really is considered a director’s medium. The studio era was of course very different from today. There were many different fiefdoms scattered around town, each producing its own sort of picture. The Paramount people would not converse with the MGM people; wouldn’t even see each other. The MGM people especially would not consort for dinner or even lunch with the people from Fox.One night before I was to begin One, Two, Three I had dinner at the home of Mr. and Mrs. William Goetz, who always had wonderful food. I was seated next to Mrs. Edie Goetz, Louis Mayer’s younger daughter, and she asked what sort of picture I was going to make. I told her it was set in Berlin and we’d be shooting in Germany.

Film’s thought of as a director’s medium because the director creates the end product that appears on the screen. It’s that stupid amateur theory again, that the director is the author of the film. But what does the director shoot – the telephone book? Writers became much more important when sound came in, but they’ve had to put up a valiant fight to get the credit they deserve. Recently, the Writers’ Guild has negotiated with the studios to move the writer’s credit to a place just before the director’s, a more prominent position,


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»Story of my life. I always get the fuzzy end of the lollipop.«

— Billy Wilder

SAID BY SUGAR


Nobody consults the movie writer. In production, they just go wildly ahead. If the star has another picture coming up, and they need to finish the picture by Monday, they’ll just tear out ten pages. To make it work somehow, they add a few stupid lines. In the studio era, screenwriters were always on the losing end in battles with the director or the studio. Just to show you the impotence of the screenwriter then, I’ll tell you a story from before I became a director. Brackett and I were writing a picture called Hold Back the Dawn. Back then, no writer was allowed on the set. If the actors and the director weren’t interpreting the script correctly, if they didn’t have the accent on the right word when they were delivering a gag, if they didn’t know where the humor was, a writer might very well pipe up. A director would feel that the writer was creating a disruption.

One day Brackett and I were having lunch across the street from Paramount. We were in the middle of writing the third act of the picture. As we left our table to walk out, we saw Boyer, the star, seated at a table, his little French lunch spread out before him, his napkin tucked in just so, a bottle of red wine open on the table. We stopped by and said, »Charles, how are you?« »Oh, fine. Thank you.« Although we were still working on the script, Mitchell Leisen had already begun to direct the production. I said, »And what are you shooting today, Charles?« »We’re shooting this scene where I’m in bed and...« »Oh! The scene with the cockroach! That’s a wonderful scene.« »Yes, well, we didn’t use the cockroach.« »Didn’t use the cockroach? Oh, Charles, why not?« »Because the scene is idiotic. I have told Mr. Leisen so, and he agreed with me. How do you suppose a man can talk to some thing that cannot answer you?« Then Boyer looked out the window. That was all. End of discussion. As we walked back to the studio to continue to write the third act, I said to Brackett, »That son of a bitch. If he doesn’t talk to the cockroach, he doesn’t talk to anybody!« We gave him as few lines as possible ... wrote him right out of the third act. Was that one of the reasons you became a director, the difficulty of protecting the writing?

One of the classics Wilder made in the 1950s: »Some Like It Hot« [1959] starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon.

That was certainly one of the reasons. I don’t come from the theater or any dramatic school like the Strasberg school, and I didn’t particularly have ambitions to be a director, to be a despot of the soundstage. I just wanted to protect the script. It’s not that I had a vision or theory I wanted to express as a director; I had no signature or style, except for what

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For Hold Back the Dawn, we had written a story about a man trying to immigrate into the U.S. without the proper papers. Charles Boyer, who played the lead, is at rope’s end, destitute, stranded in a filthy hotel – the Esperanza – across the border, near Mexicali or Calexico. He is lying in this lousy bed, holding a walking stick, when he sees a cockroach walk up the wall and onto a mirror hanging on the wall. Boyer sticks the end of the walking stick in front of the cockroach and says, »Wait a minute, you. Where are you going? Where are your papers? You haven’t got them? Then you can’t enter.« The cockroach tries to walk around the stick, and the Boyer character keeps stopping it.

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bumping aside the producers. The producers are screaming! You look at an ad in the papers and they are littered with the names of producers: A So-and-So and So-and-So Production, Produced by Another Four Names! Executive Producer Somebody Else. Things are slowly changing. But even so the position of a writer working with a studio is not secure, certainly nothing like a writer working in the theater in New York. There a playwright sits in his seat in the empty parquet during rehearsals, right alongside the director, and together they try to make the production flow. If there is a problem, they have a little talk. The director says to the writer, Is it all right if the guy who says, Good morning. How are you? instead enters without saying anything? And the playwright says, No! »Good morning. How are you?« stays. And it stays.


I NTE RV IE W — BILLY W ILD E R: THE A RT OF SC REENW RITING T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

»Film’s thought of as a director’s medium because the director creates the end product that appears on the screen. It’s that stupid amateur theory again, that the director is the author of the film. But what does the director shoot – the telephone book? Writers became much more important when sound came in, but they’ve had to put up a valiant fight to get the credit they deserve.« I learned from when I was working with Lubitsch and from analyzing his pictures – to do things as elegantly and as simply as possible. If you’d always had more respectful directors, such as Lubitsch, would you have become a director? Absolutely not. Lubitsch would have directed my scripts considerably better and more clearly than I. Lubitsch or Ford or Cukor. They were very good directors, but one wasn’t always assured of working with directors like that.

Jane Fonda arrived with the envelope and handed it to Mr. Huston. Huston was to open the envelope and give it to Kurosawa. Kurosawa was to fish the piece of paper with the name of the winner out of the envelope and hand it to me, then I was to read the winner’s name. Kurosawa was not very agile, it turned out, and when he reached his fingers into the envelope, he fumbled and couldn’t grab hold of the piece of paper with the winner’s name on it. All the while I was sweating it out; three hundred million people around the world were watching and waiting. Mr. Huston only had about ten seconds before he’d need more oxygen.

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I see Federico Fellini on your wall of photos. He also was a writer who became a director. I like »La Strada«, the first one with his wife, a lot. And I loved »La Dolce Vita.« Up above that picture is a photo of myself, Mr. Akira Kurosawa, and Mr. John Huston. Like Mr. Fellini and me, they too were writers who became directors. The plan for the presentation was for three writer-directors to hand out the award – John Huston, Akira Kurosawa, and myself. Huston was in a wheelchair and on oxygen for his emphysema. He had terrible breathing problems. But we were going to make him get up to join us on stage. They had the presentation carefully orchestrated so they could have Huston at the podium first, and then he would have forty-five seconds before he would have to get back to his wheelchair and put the oxygen mask on.

While Mr. Kurosawa was fumbling with the piece of paper, I almost said something that would have finished me. I almost said to him, Pearl Harbor you could find! Fortunately, he produced the slip of paper, and I didn’t say it. I read the name of the winner aloud. I forget now which picture won – »Gandhi« or »Out of Africa.« Mr. Huston moved immediately toward the wings, and backstage to the oxygen. Mr. Huston made a wonderful picture that year, »Prizzi’s Honor«, that was also up for the Best Picture Award. If he had won, we would have had to give him more oxygen to recover before he could come back and accept. I voted for Prizzi’s Honor. I voted for Mr. Huston. //


Single Line Tony Kushner / Alfonso Cuarón / Andrew Dominic

Best Dialogue Etan Cohen / Vince Gilligan / Ted Elliot

Best Question Quentin Tarantino / Spike Jonze / Karl Gadjusek

About Life Derek M. Cianfrance / Sofia Coppola Bruce Robinson

W RITERS AWA RD NOMINE E S T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

Writers Award — Nominees


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T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

W RITE RS AWA RD — NOMINEE — BEST LINE

»Slavery, sir? It’s done.«

— Tony Kushner

SAID BY JACKIE COGAN


W RITE RS AWA RD — NOMINEE — BEST LINE

Tony Kushner — Lincoln

Tony Kushner’s play »Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes« earned him the Pulitzer Prize, among many other awards. His other acclaimed plays include »Slavs!«, »Homebody/ Kabul« and »Caroline, or Change«. In 2003, Kushner married his boyfriend, Mark Harris, editor at large of »Entertainment Weekly« they were the first gay couple to be featured in »The New York Times« »Vows« column. Lincoln — In 1865, as the American Civil War winds inexorably toward conclusion, U.S. president Abraham Lincoln endeavors to achieve passage of the landmark constitutional amendment which will forever ban slavery from the United States. However, his task is a race against time, for peace may come at any time, and if it comes before the amendment is passed, the returning southern states will stop it before it can become law. Lincoln must, by al-

most any means possible, obtain enough votes from a recalcitrant Congress before peace arrives and it is too late. Yet the president is torn, as an early peace would save thousands of lives. As the nation confronts its conscience over the freedom of its entire population, Lincoln faces his own crisis of conscience – end slavery or end the war.

DIRECTED BY: STEVEN SPIELBERG // PRODUCED BY: STEVEN SPIELBERG / KATHLEEN KENNEDY // STARRING: DANIEL DAY-LEWIS / SALLY FIELD / DAVID STRATHAIRN / JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT / TOMMY LEE JONES // MUSIC BY: JOHN WILLIAMS // CINEMATOGRAPHY: JANUSZ KAMINSKI // EDITING BY: MICHAEL KAHN // STUDIO: TOUCHSTONE PICTURES / DREAMWORKS PICTURES / RELIANCE ENTERTAINMENT / PARTICIPANT MEDIAAMBLIN ENTERTAINMENT / THE KENNEDY/MARSHALL COMPANY // DISTRIBUTED BY: WALT DISNEY STUDIOS / MOTION PICTURES / 20TH CENTURY FOX // RELEASE DATE : NOVEMBER 9, 2012 RUNNING TIME: 150 MINUTES // COUNTRY: UNITED STATES // LANGUAGE: ENGLISH // BUDGET: $65 MILLION // BOX OFFICE: $275,293,450

T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

Nominee: Best Line


W RITE RS AWA RD — NOMINEE — BEST LINE

Alfonso Cuarón — Gravity

T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

Nominee: Best Line Born and raised in Mexico City, Alfonso Cuarón studied cinema and philosophy at the University of Mexico. In 1995, Cuarón released his first feature film produced in the United States. His next feature was a modernized version of Charles Dickens »Great Expectations« starring Ethan Hawke, Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert De Niro. In 2010, Cuarón began to develop the film »Gravity«. Starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, the film was released in the fall of 2013.

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Gravity — The veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski is in charge of the Shuttle Explorer’s STS-157 mission to repair of the Hubble Telescope by the rookie specialist Ryan Stone. Out of the blue, Houston control aborts the mission warning that a Russian missile hit a satellite, causing a chain reaction and now there is a storm of debris coming upon them. Soon they lose communication with the Mission Control in Houston. The debris strike

the Explorer and Ryan is released from the shuttle and Kowalski is forced to bring her back to the shuttle. However, the Explorer is completely damaged and now their only chance to return to Earth is to reach another space station. But they are short of oxygen and fuel.

DIRECTED BY: ALFONSO CUARÓN // PRODUCED BY: ALFONSO CUARÓN / DAVID HEYMAN // STARRING: SANDRA BULLOCK / GEORGE CLOONEY // MUSIC BY: STEVEN PRICE / CINEMATOGRAPHY: EMMANUEL LUBEZKI // EDITING BY: ALFONSO CUARÓN / MARK SANGER // STUDIO: ESPERANTO FILMOJ / HEYDAY FILMS DISTRIBUTED BY: WARNER BROS. PICTURES // RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 4, 2013 // RUNNING TIME: 91 MINUTES // COUNTRY: UNITED KINGDOM / UNITED STATES // LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / BUDGET: $100 MILLION // BOX OFFICE: $698,387,772


T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

— Alfonso Cuarón

SAID BY RYAN STONE

W RITE RS AWA RD — NOMINEE — BEST LINE

»I hate space!«


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T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

W RITE RS AWA RD — NOMINEE — BEST LINE

»America’s not a country – it’s a business. Now fucking pay me!« — Andrew Dominik

SAID BY JACKIE COGAN


W RITE RS AWA RD — NOMINEE — BEST LINE

Andrew Dominic — Killing them Softly

Andrew Dominik was born in 1967 in Wellington, New Zealand. He is a director and writer, known for »The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford«, »Killing Them Softly« and »Chopper«.

Killing them Softly — New Orleans, the fall of 2008. While the banking crisis grips national news, two young slackers rob a highstakes poker game. The local Mob attorney brings in Jackie to clean things up. He’s a hit man who likes to kill his victims softly. There’s a code at work: Jackie surmises that he has to kill Trattman, even though he’s innocent; then Jackie brings in Mickey from out of state, because one of the people who has to die knows Jackie.

Can Jackie’s methodical, cheery approach to his work put the local underground’s finances back in order?

DIRECTED BY: ANDREW DOMINIK // PRODUCED BY: BRAD PITT / DEDE GARDNER / STEVE SCHWARTZ / PAULA MAE SCHWARTZ / ANTHONY KATAGAS SCREENPLAY BY: ANDREW DOMINIK // STARRING: BRAD PITT / SCOOT MCNAIRY / BEN MENDELSOHN / RICHARD JENKINS / JAMES GANDOLFINI / RAY LIOTTA / SAM SHEPARD / MUSIC BY: JONATHAN ELIA & DAVID WITTMAN / CINEMATOGRAPHY: GREIG FRASER // EDITING BY: BRIAN A. KATES / JOHN PAUL HORSTMANN / STUDIO: ANNAPURNA PICTURES / 1984 PRIVATE DEFENSE CONTRACTORS / PLAN B ENTERTAINMENT / CHOCKSTONE PICTURES / DISTRIBUTED BY: THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY // RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 30, 2012 // RUNNING TIME: 97 MINUTES // COUNTRY: UNITED STATES // LANGUAGE: ENGLISH BUDGET: $15 MILLION // BOX OFFICE: $37,470,591

T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

Nominee: Best Line


W RITE RS AWA RD — NOMINEE — BEST D IA LOGUE

Etan Cohen — Men in Black 3

T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

Nominee: Best Dialogue Etan Cohen was born in Israel. Cohen grew up in Efrat, Massachusetts. He graduated from the Harvard College. His first produced scripts, in 1995 and 1997, were for »Beavis and Butthead.« He has since written for other Mike Judge directed projects, including »King of the Hill«, and for the feature film »Idiocracy« in 2006. In 2008, Cohen cowrote, along with Ben Stiller, the action  –  comedy film »Tropic Thunder«. He also wrote »Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.«

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Men in Black 3 — Criminal Boris the Animal escapes from the LunaMax, a moon-based maximum security prison. He comes to Earth seeking revenge from Agent K, who his arm up and arrested him forty years ago and protected Earth from a Boglodyte invasion. Boris is defeated again and he travels back in time to 1969 to kill Agent K. When Agent J notes that the time line has changed in the present days and Agent O tells him that K died in 1969, he decides

to travel to 15 July 1969 to save K on the following day. Agent J has difficulties to convince the Young Agent K with lies, but when he decides to tell the truth, K believes in his words and they seek out Boris together. They are helped by the amicable alien Griiffin that has precognitive powers and gives the ArcNet to K to protect Earth from the Boglodyte invasion. Further, J learns a secret about K and himself.

DIRECTED BY: BARRY SONNENFELD // PRODUCED BY: WALTER F. PARKES / LAURIE MACDONALD // STARRING: WILL SMITH / TOMMY LEE JONES / JOSH BROLIN / JEMAINE CLEMENT / JEMAINE CLEMENT / MICHAEL STUHLBARG / EMMA THOMPSON // MUSIC BY: DANNY ELFMAN // CINEMATOGRAPHY: BILL POPE // EDITING BY: DON ZIMMERMAN // STUDIO: AMBLIN ENTERTAINMENT / P+M IMAGE NATION / HEMISPHERE MEDIA CAPITAL // DISTRIBUTED BY: COLUMBIA PICTURES // RELEASE DATE: MAY 25, 2012 // RUNNING TIME: 106 MINUTES // COUNTRY: UNITED STATES // LANGUAGE: ENGLISH // BUDGET: $215 MILLION // BOX OFFICE: $624,026,776


SAID BY A: CONEY ISLAND FLOWER CHILD B: BORIS THE ANIMAL

W RITE RS AWA RD — NOMINEE — BEST D IA LOGUE T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

A: »Make love, not war!« B: »I prefer to do both.« — Etan Cohen


W RITE RS AWA RD — NOMINEE — BEST D IA LOGUE T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

A: »Say my name.« B: »Heisenberg.« A:»You’re goddamn right!«

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— Vince Gilligan SAID BY A: WALTER WHITE B: DECLAN


W RITE RS AWA RD — NOMINEE — BEST D IA LOGUE

Vince Gilligan — Breaking Bad S05 E07

Vince Gilligan was born in Richmond, Virginia, and raised in Farmville and Chesterfield County. As a writer and executive producer on »The X-Files«, Gilligan shared Golden Globe Awards in 1995, 1997 and 1998 for Best Dramatic Series. Breaking Bad earned Emmy Award nominations, and hailed in 2009 as »the best of the 21st century« by Stephen King.

Breaking Bad S05 E07 — Walt is in full control and in a desert meeting, convinces the Phoenix drug dealers to buy his product rather than the raw chemicals. As he had already announced, Mike has decided to retire and gets rids of his weapons stash. He has a lawyer paying off the 9 men in jail and he’s got quite a stash accumulated for his granddaughter. At the DEA, Hank gets a dressing down from his boss over spending too much time and effort – and money –

tracking Mike and is ordered to lay off. He decides to focus on the attorney for Mike’s 9 associates – who is also Mike’s bag man. Walt volunteers to get Mike’s bag of cash he will use on the run and delivers it to him personally.

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: VINCE GILLIGAN / MARK JOHNSON / MICHELLE MACLAREN // PRODUCERS: STEWART A. LYONS / SAM CATLIN / JOHN SHIBAN PETER GOULD / GEORGE MASTRAS / THOMAS SCHNAUZ / BRYAN CRANSTON / MOIRA WALLEY-BECKETT / KAREN MOORE / PATTY LIN // STARRING: BRYAN CRANSTON / ANNA GUNN / AARON PAUL / DEAN NORRIS / BETSY BRANDT / RJ MITTE / BOB ODENKIRK / GIANCARLO ESPOSITO / JONATHAN BANKS / LAURA FRASER / JESSE PLEMONS // EDITORS: KELLEY DIXON / SKIP MACDONALD / LYNNE WILLINGHAM / LOCATIONS: ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO // CINEMATOGRAPHY: MICHAEL SLOVIS PRODUCTION COMPANY: SONY PICTURES

T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

Nominee: Best Dialogue


W RITE RS AWA RD — NOMINEE — BEST D IA LOGUE

Ted Elliot — Pirates of the Carribean 4

T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

Nominee: Best Dialogue Ted Elliott, born July 4, 1961, is an American screenwriter. Along with his writing partner Terry Rossio, Elliott has written some of the most successful American films of the past 15 years, including »Aladdin«, »Shrek« and the »Pirates of the Caribbean« series.

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Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides — In London, Captain Jack Sparrow escapes from the soldiers that are chasing him and learns that an impostor is recruiting a crew and a vessel using his name. He meets the impersonator and finds that she actually is Angelica, a woman that he had seduced in a convent in Seville. Jack is abducted and when he awakes aboard, the ship is sailing, Angelica tells him that her father, the pirate Blackbeard, is cursed

and he needs to find the legendary Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth to save his life. They force Jack, who knows the location of the fountain, to guide them. Meanwhile, Barbossa is hired by King George to lead the British crew and dispute against the Spaniards and Blackbeard who arrives first in the fountain. But along their dangerous quest, they need to find first two chalices that belonged to Ponce de Leon and a tear of mermaid.

DIRECTED BY: ROB MARSHALL // PRODUCED BY: JERRY BRUCKHEIMER // SCREENPLAY BY: TED ELLIOTT / TERRY ROSSIO // STARRING: JOHNNY DEPP PENÉLOPE CRUZ / IAN MCSHANE / KEVIN R. MCNALLY / GEOFFREY RUSH // MUSIC BY: HANS ZIMMER // CINEMATOGRAPHY: DARIUSZ WOLSKI // EDITING BY: DAVID BRENNER / WYATT SMITH /MICHAEL KAHN // STUDIO: WALT DISNEY PICTURES / JERRY BRUCKHEIMER FILMS // DISTRIBUTED BY: WALT DISNEY STUDIOS / MOTION PICTURES // RELEASE DATE: MAY 20, 2011 // RUNNING TIME: 137 MINUTES // COUNTRY: UNITED STATES // LANGUAGE: ENGLISH BUDGET: $150 – 250 MILLION // BOX OFFICE: $1,045,713,802


A: »Does this face look like it’s been to the fountain of youth?« B: »Depends on the light.« — Ted Elliott

SAID BY A: CAPTAIN TEAGUE B: JACK SPARROW

W RITE RS AWA RD — NOMINEE — BEST D IA LOGUE

B: »Have you been there?«

T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

A: »I heard where you’re headed. The fountain.«


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»I’ve been surrounded my entire life by black faces. I only have one question: Why don’t they just rise up and kill the whites?« — Quentin Tarantino

SAID BY CALVIN J. CANDIE


W RITE RS AWA RD — NOMINEE — BEST QUE STION

Quentin Tarantino — Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino — In January of 1992, »Reservoir Dogs« appeared at the Sundance Film Festival. Two years later, he followed up Dogs success with »Pulp Fiction« which premiered at the Cannes film festival, winning the coveted »Palme D’Or« Award. At the 1995 Academy Awards, it was nominated for the best picture, best director and best original screenplay.

Django Unchained — In 1858, a bounty hunter named Schultz seeks out a slave named Django and buys him because he needs him to find some men he is looking for. After finding them, Django wants to find his wife, Broomhilda who along with him were sold separately by his former owner for trying to escape. Schultz offers to help him if he chooses to stay with him and be his partner. Eventually they learn that she was sold to a plantation in Mississipi. Knowing they

can’t just go in and say they want her, they come up with a plan so that the owner will welcome them into his home and they can find a way.

DIRECTED BY: QUENTIN TARANTINO // PRODUCED BY: STACEY SHER / REGINALD HUDLIN / PILAR SAVONE // WRITTEN BY: QUENTIN TARANTINO // STARRING: JAMIE FOXX / CHRISTOPH WALTZ / LEONARDO DICAPRIO / KERRY WASHINGTON / CINEMATOGRAPHY: ROBERT RICHARDSON // EDITING BY: FRED RASKIN STUDIO: A BAND APART // DISTRIBUTED BY: THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY [NORTH AMERICA] / COLUMBIA PICTURES [WORLDWIDE] RELEASE DATE: DECEMBER 25, 2012 // RUNNING TIME: 165 MINUTES // COUNTRY: UNITED STATES // LANGUAGE: ENGLISH //BUDGET: $100 MILLION / BOX OFFICE: $425,368,238

T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

Nominee: Best Question


W RITE RS AWA RD — NOMINEE — BEST QUE STION

Spike Jonze — Her

T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

Nominee: Best Question Spike Jonze earned an Oscar nomination for directing his first feature film, 1999’s »Being John Malkovich«. Jonze got his start as a photographer in the late 1980s for »Freestylin’«, a skateboarder magazine. That led to a career making short films and music videos in the ’90s. His second feature film, »Adaptation«, starred Nicolas Cage and Meryl Streep. His third feature film was an adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s book for children, »Where the Wild Things Are«.

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Her — Theodore is a lonely man in the final stages of his divorce. When he’s not working as a letter writer, his down time is spent playing video games. He decides to purchase the new OS1, which is advertised as the world’s first artificially intelligent operating system, »It’s not just an operating system, it’s a consciousness«, the ad states. Theodore quickly finds himself drawn in with Samantha, the voice behind his OS1. As they start spending time together

they grow closer and closer and eventually find themselves in love. Having fallen in love with his OS, Theodore finds himself dealing with feelings of both great joy and doubt. As an OS, Samantha has powerful intelligence that she uses to help Theodore in ways others hadn’t, but how does she help him deal with his inner conflict of being in love with an OS?

DIRECTED BY: SPIKE JONZE // PRODUCED BY: MEGAN ELLISON / SPIKE JONZE / VINCENT LANDAY // STARRING: JOAQUIN PHOENIX / AMY ADAMS / ROONEY MARA / OLIVIA WILDE / SCARLETT JOHANSSON // MUSIC BY: OWEN PALLETT / WILLIAM BUTLER // CINEMATOGRAPHY: HOYTE VAN HOYTEMA // EDITING BY: ERIC ZUMBRUNNEN / JEFF BUCHANAN // STUDIO: ANNAPURNA PICTURES // DISTRIBUTED BY: WARNER BROS. PICTURES // RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 13, 2013 // RUNNING TIME: 126 MINUTES // COUNTRY: UNITED STATES // LANGUAGE: ENGLISH // BOX OFFICE: $20,347,728


— Spike Jonze

SAID BY SAMANTHA T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

W RITE RS AWA RD — NOMINEE — BEST QUE STION

»What’s it like being alive in that room right now?«


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T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

W RITE RS AWA RD — NOMINEE — BEST QUE STION

»Are you an effective team?«

— Karl Gajdusek

ASKED BY SALLY


W RITE RS AWA RD — NOMINEE — BEST QUE STION

Karl Gajdusek — Oblivion

Karl Gajdusek, born July 30, 1968 in San Francisco, California, is a motion picture writer and producer. He is the co-creator of »Last Resort« with Shawn Ryan. They are both also Executive Producers for the series. Gajdusek has also worked on the series »Dead like Me« and wrote the film »Trespass«.

Oblivion — In 2077, the human Jack Harper works with his companion Victoria »Vic« on the surveillance station Tech 49. Part of a massive operation to extract vital resources after decades of war with a terrifying threat known as the Scavs, Jack’s mission is nearly complete. Jack and Vic receive instructions from Sally, who is located on the space station Tet, and Vic is anxious to leave Earth in two weeks to

join the survivors on Titan. Living in and patrolling the skies from thousands of feet above, his existence is brought crashing down when he rescues a stranger from a downed spacecraft. Her arrival triggers a chain of events that forces him to question everything he knows and puts the fate of humanity in his hands.

DIRECTED BY: JOSEPH KOSINSKI // PRODUCED BY: JOSEPH KOSINSKI / PETER CHERNIN / DYLAN CLARK // SCREENPLAY BY: KARL GAJDUSEK / MICHAEL DEBRUYN // STARRING: TOM CRUISE / OLGA KURYLENKO / MORGAN FREEMAN // MUSIC BY: M83 // CINEMATOGRAPHY: CLAUDIO MIRANDA // EDITING BY: RICHARD FRANCIS-BRUCE // STUDIO: RELATIVITY MEDIA / CHERNIN ENTERTAINMENT // DISTRIBUTED BY: UNIVERSAL PICTURES // RELEASE DATE: APRIL 10, 2013 // RUNNING TIME: 124 MINUTES // COUNTRY: UNITED STATES // LANGUAGE: ENGLISH // BUDGET: $120 MILLION // BOX OFFICE: $286,168,572

T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

Nominee: Best Question


W RITE RS AWA RD — NOMINEE — A BOUT LIF E

Derek M. Cianfrance — The Place Beyond the Pines

T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

Nominee: About Life Derek M. Cianfrance is an American film director, cinematographer and screenwriter. At 23, he wrote, directed, and edited his first feature film, »Brother Tied«, which was well received at festivals. His second feature, »Blue Valentine«, starred Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. »Blue Valentine« star Gosling worked with him again on »The Place Beyond the Pines«, which followed a stunt rider who becomes a bank robber to support his newborn son.

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The Place Beyond the Pines — A mysterious and mythical motorcycle racer, Luke, drives out of a traveling carnival globe of death and whizzes through the backstreets of Schenectady, New York, desperately trying to connect with a former lover, Romina, who recently and secretly gave birth to the stunt rider‘s son. In an attempt to provide for his new family, Luke quits the carnival life and commits a series of bank robberies aided by his superior riding ability. The

stakes rise as Luke is put on a collision course with an ambitious police officer, Avery Cross, looking to quickly move up the ranks in a police department riddled with corruption. The sweeping drama unfolds over fifteen years as the sins of the past haunt the present days lives of two high school boys wrestling with the legacy they’ve inherited. The only refuge is found in the place beyond the pines.

DIRECTED BY: DEREK CIANFRANCE // PRODUCED BY: LYNETTE HOWELL / SIDNEY KIMMEL / ALEX ORLOVSKY / JAMIE PATRICOF // STARRING: RYAN GOSLING BRADLEY COOPER / EVA MENDES / RAY LIOTTA / BEN MENDELSOHN / ROSE BYRNE // MUSIC BY: MIKE PATTON // CINEMATOGRAPHY: SEAN BOBBITT EDITING BY: JIM HELTON / RON PATANE // STUDIO: HUNTING LANE FILMS / PINES PRODUCTIONS / SIDNEY KIMMEL ENTERTAINMENT / SILVERWOOD FILMS DISTRIBUTED BY: FOCUS FEATURES // RELEASE DATES: SEPTEMBER 7, 2012 // RUNNING TIME: 140 MINUTES // COUNTRY: UNITED STATES // LANGUAGE: ENGLISH // BUDGET: $15 MILLION // BOX OFFICE: $39,611,604


— Derek Cianfrance

SAID BY ROBIN T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

W RITE RS AWA RD — NOMINEE — A BOUT LIF E

»If you ride like lightning, you’re gonna crash like thunder.«


W RITE RS AWA RD — NOMINEE — A BOUT LIF E T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

»I’m a firm believer in Karma, and I think this situation is a huge learning lesson for me. I want to lead a country one day, for all I know.«

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— Sofia Coppola

SAID BY NICKI


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Sofia Coppola — The Bling Ring Sofia Coppola is the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola. Throughout her life, she continued to live and work under her father’s wing, but his wing often cast a long shadow. In 2004 Coppola finally stepped out of that shadow to claim her own celebrity. She became the first American woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director, for her movie »Lost in Translation«. The Bling Ring — A group of celebrity-fixated L.A. teens begin burglarizing the homes of the rich and famous in this crime drama directed by Sofia Coppola, and inspired by actual events. As the members of the so-called Bling Ring begin taking greater risks to acquire the latest luxury brands, they quickly become the prisoners of their own ostentatious obsession. Emma Watson, Taissa Farmiga, Leslie Mann, and Israel Broussard star.

DIRECTED BY: SOFIA COPPOLA // PRODUCED BY: ROMAN COPPOLA // SOFIA COPPOLA / YOUREE HENLEY // STARRING: TAISSA FARMIGA / CLAIRE JULIEN GEORGIA ROCK / EMMA WATSON // MUSIC BY: BRIAN REITZELL / DANIEL LOPATIN // CINEMATOGRAPHY: CHRISTOPHER BLAUVELT / HARRIS SAVIDES EDITING BY: SARAH FLACK //STUDIO: AMERICAN ZOETROPE / NALA FILMS / PATHÉ / STUDIOCANAL / TOBIS FILM / TOHOKUSHINSHA FILM //DISTRIBUTED BY: A24 // RELEASE DATE: MAY 15, 2013 // RUNNING TIME: 90 MINUTES // COUNTRY: UNITED STATES / UNITED KINGDOM / FRANCE / GERMANY / JAPAN LANGUAGE: ENGLISH // BUDGET: $8 MILLION / BOX OFFICE: $20,029,261

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Nominee: About Life


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Bruce Robinson — The Rum Diary

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Nominee: About Life Bruce Robinson, born 2 May 1946, is an English director, screenwriter, novelist and actor. He is arguably most famous for writing and directing the cult classic »Withnail and I«, a film with comic and tragic elements set in London in the 1960s, which drew on his experiences as ›a chronic alcoholic and resting actor, living in squalor‹ in Camden Town.

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The Rum Diary — Hard-drinking journalist Paul Kemp takes a job at a besieged newspaper in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His volatile editor, Lotterman, assigns him to tourist pieces and horoscopes, but promises more. Paul rooms with Sala, an aging and equally alcoholic reporter, in a rundown flat. Sanderson, a wealthy entrepreneur, hires Paul to flack for a group of investors who plan to buy an island near the capital and build a resort.

Sanderson’s girl-friend, the beguiling Chenault, bats her eyes at Paul. His loyalties face challenges when he and Sala get in trouble with locals, when a Carnival dance enrages Sanderson, and when the paper hits the skids. Is the solution always alcohol?

DIRECTED BY: BRUCE ROBINSON // PRODUCED BY: JOHNNY DEPP / GRAHAM KING / CHRISTI DEMBROWSKI / ANTHONY RHULEN / ROBERT KRAVIS / TIM HEADINGTON // STARRING: JOHNNY DEPP / AARON ECKHART / MICHAEL RISPOLI / AMBER HEARD / RICHARD JENKINS / GIOVANNI RIBISI // MUSIC BY: CHRISTOPHER YOUNG // CINEMATOGRAPHY: DARIUSZ WOLSKI // EDITING BY: CAROL LITTLETON // STUDIO: GK FILMS / INFINITUM NIHIL / FILM ENGINE DISTRIBUTED BY: FILMDISTRICT // RELEASE DATES: OCTOBER 28, 2011 // RUNNING TIME: 120 MINUTES // COUNTRY: UNITED STATES // LANGUAGE: ENGLISH BUDGET: $50 MILLION // BOX OFFICE: $23,947,544


— Bruce Robinson SAID BY PAUL KEMP

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»Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.«


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Richard Price: The pressure on me is that I have to write stuff that is marketable and commercial and appealing to the maximum number of people possible. And there’s competition between studios, I mean, I can bounce around from place to place. And so, American screenwriters, if they can get away with it, will always complain about selling out and not letting me write what I really want to write and oh you people in Europe, I mean, you’re so earnest and sincere and individualistic... And when I first said that to Mogens [screenwriting teacher at the Danish Film School] he said »Please don’t tell us any of that crap, we’re so bored and sick of hearing that. We wish there was competition, we wish there was pressure on us for maximum audiences, so please just tell us how to sell out.« So, with that in mind, I don’t know what to say...

characters and just make it a good story. Then, once you have the story down, look at it in terms of, okay, realistically as a film can I have two people talking for 35 minutes on a park bench? Maybe not, but at least I’ve got their conversation written down and maybe there s something in that conversation which is to the heart of what I want to do. So, can I move any of this conversation somewhere else? Can I do something else to make where they are more visually interesting. But the first step is to get down what you want them to say and then you have it and you can play with it, you can erase some of it, you can move some of it around, but the first step is to get it down there. Don’t jump over that and think in terms of movie feasibility. Story comes first. You said don’t think about movie feasibility.

You know, in terms of writing, I always feel that in screenplays, whatever needs to be technically achieved or brought in rein to make a story shootable or whatever, is secondary to just writing the best story that you can. I mean, not even thinking about it as all right, this is going to have to be a movie or this is going to have be a short story or whatever it is, but I’d just rather have a story that s compelling and singular and then worry about what we have to do to get this thing functional. I think that my priority would be to just tell the story that I think I can tell the best.

In the first pass, I wouldn’t. Of course, you have to think about it because it s not easy to not think about the movie. But it s much better to have something to work with. I’ve taught film and I’ve taught fiction writing – short story and novel fiction writing – and I tell everybody the same thing. Why should I see your movie or why should I read your book? What do you know that I don’t know? And that s the eternal challenge. What can you bring to me that I don’t know already? And that’s why the first step is to find that story which is unique to yourself.

Do you write it as a short story first?

Do you work with a three act structure?

No, no, no, I would write it, but I would be more concerned about »is this about this story?«, and the

Well, there’s a danger. There’s a guy around here, I think his name is »...« or something... okay, you’ve

NE W YORK C ONV E RSATIONS — RIC HA RD PRIC E T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

Richard Price at Hotel Chelsea — New York Conversations By Mikael Colville  –  Andersen


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»Why should I see your movie or why should I read your book? What do you know that I don’t know? And that’s the challenge — what can you bring to me that I don’t know already?«

heard of him... but beware. Remember, it’s art. It’s 2 plus 2 equals 5. Beware of rules. Rule one is there are no rules. Rule two is see rule number one. I think its dangerous for beginning filmmakers to get too hung up on, you know, »Well, this is the manual and this is what the guy in the book said.« Beware of this, emphasise that. You need all your brains to just write... you know, just make your characters come alive. Make your events compelling. Every ounce of your brain devoted to following the rules is one ounce of brain not devoted to making this story kind of magical and singular. I’ve never read any of those books... I mean, I purposely wouldn’t read a book like that or take a course... you know, they got those quickie 3-day intensive courses. It’s like Berlitz French, you know... »stay with us for 3 days and you won’t be able to go to the bathroom, but when you come out, you’ll be ready to make a big, stupid Hollywood movie.

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Just write. Just think of your story. The way that I learned to write a screenplay was, well, I went to movies. I just went to movies. But I sat down and instead of just watching the movie, I said, okay, I’m the writer of this movie. And I just tried to follow the movie like the writer, just follow the dialogue. Okay, now we’re over here, now we’re in the car, now we’re in the funeral home. Just imagine you’re the writer, you know, just osmosis. I don’t want to make it cryptic and mysterious, but just trust your instincts. It’s like writing a play: Somebody says something, somebody says something else, then they go over here and somebody says something, somebody says something else, gun goes off, then we go over here, blah blah blah. You know, it’s simple. The more you

study technique, the more distracted and befuddled you might get. If you want to be a writer, you don’t start out by taking a course in secretarial skills. You start with your story. You can think how can I make this sentence more shapely, but just get the sentence down. How did you get into screenwriting? Did you just write a screenplay and go out there? No, I published two books. Novels, that were both made into movies. A lot of the people out in Hollywood who had read my books thought I would make a good screenwriter because they had a lot of dialogue and they moved very quickly. But they thought I’d make a good screenwriter for all the wrong reasons. The ability to write dialogue is not... I mean, of course it’s a good ability to have but good screenwriting is not about writing good dialogue. The minute it comes out of an actor’s mouth, it’s going to sound more realistic. Or it s going to be so bad it’s going to be obvious you’re going to have to let the guy ad lib here. What makes a good movie, at least a good American movie, is your ability to move a story along and, in a way, it’s almost more like architecture. Once you have that story down, you’re planning. It’s like a race course or it’s like you have to build something very quickly. Your ability to keep it moving and interesting. I went in there and they said, you write dialogue, you’ll be wonderful. I said I don’t know what I’m doing and they said yeah, don’t worry about it, just do it. I said but, but, but. And they said, tell you what, write the first ten minutes of the movie. Write the first fif-


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teen minutes of the movie. And this was the producer, who’s now like this huge octopus of a producer. And he said, just write the first fifteen minutes of the movie and show it to me. So I sat down and wrote 95 pages and I hadn’t even introduced the main character yet. So he looked at it and said, okay I know what you mean. You do that once and you’re sick of it. You get this nauseous feeling in your stomach. I’m just killing trees for nothing. And you learn by banging your head against the wall, therefore you learn not to bang your head against the wall. So, in a way, that’s how I learned. I mean, it was a crummy writing experience.

I had to start all over again. But this time the main character came in right away. It’s like when you have kids. Sometimes they have to learn to do their homework. You’re on them every night. Do your homework, do your homework. But sometimes you think, okay, they’re going to get their ass kicked so bad at school the next day, it will be a valuable learning experience. It’s like negative reinforcement. If I stop behaving like this, it will stop hurting. And that’s how I learned. Just trial and error. But I would not get hung up on any particular rules like there’s gotta be three acts. I’ve always heard that, and when I sit down with people at meetings, they’re like »where are we, what act is this?« And I m like, it’s act nine, or something... I don’t know. The danger is that when you’ve written a script and you’ve rewritten it and rewritten it and you have a big actor involved and you re a year and a half into getting this movie made and the actor or director looks at you and asks »What’s this movie about?« I don’t know, it’s about me getting paid and out of here. They’re always trying these philosophical panic attacks.

»Beware of rules. Rule one is there are no rules. Rule two is see rule number one.«

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What did you do after the 95 pages?


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»People in the Bronx, when they go down to Manhattan, it’s like they’ve travelled thousands of miles. The Bronx is like urban hillbillies, even though it’s only fifteen minutes away by subway, it’s two solar systems away mentally and culturally.«

How do you use research? Oh, you mean going out and learning enough to sounding like an authority about pool? Yeah, how much does that give to you as a writer? Well, that’s very different from writer to writer. For me, going out and spending time with people who I want to write about but who I don t have an intimate knowledge of or how they go about their day is very important to me. And I always find something which is... you know, every day is a little baby epiphany. I never know what it is. I don’t usually go out because I want to learn how a pool hustler hustles, for example. I mean, I’m going to find that out anyway, but there might be something I’m going to see or hear if I’m out there that day, which has nothing to do with my stated mission, but in itself, is more revealing that what I thought I was going to go out and see. It depends. Are you writing about things you know? Then you don’t need to do research. If you’re writing about a historical time period, or people who do jobs, like a policeman, who you might not...

I would go to murders. I’d be in Brooklyn, in the Bronx and there’d be this dead body with 90 million bullet holes in it, looks like Swiss cheese and the people are in the street and this and that and I’d be watching them how they process a crime scene and how they interview people in the street. All that is clinical, technical data. Or I’ll pick up little moments of intimacy. With that kind of stuff I’ll take copious notes, but what happens and what stays with me longer is a week later with one of the cops who was in this crime scene processing unit. He had about three girlfriends and they all lived in the same building. He was the super of the building – it was his second job to be a super of a tenement in the Bronx. They were all Puerto Rican and he’s Irish and all their husbands are in jail so he’s letting them slide on the rent and he’s being nice to the kids and they wind up liking the guy, mainly for what he isn’t. He’s not going to hit them, he s not going to take their money, he’s not going to give them AIDS, he’s not going to go off to jail on a moments notice because he did something stupid, he s not going to be abusive to the children. So these nots make him very attractive.

You followed the policeman, didn’t you?

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Yeah. I hung out with these cops. I enjoy it, but it’s a personal preference. It s not mandatory. Jane Austen is ten times, a million times the writer that Robert Louis Stevenson is. Stevenson, who died in Tahiti, and Jane Austen, who never left the house. It’s an option. Do I go out and learn something? Depends what you want to write about. I would go out with these policemen, when I was writing Sea of Love and later, when I was writing Clockers, and

I go out with this guy one night, with one of his girlfriends, and this woman takes her son, who’s this six year – old kid whose nickname is Machito, which should tell you something. And he’s like Ferdinand the Bull – he’s this little hyperactive, chubby kid. We’re at this restaurant and this kid is zooming around, I mean, this kid is really hyper. And I’m having this dinner and it s worth ten murders. I’m watching how this woman calms him down. She’s like, »Whatta want?« »Just relax.« »What? You wanna coca cola? You can have a coca cola. You wanna ice cream?« She’s


So, we re down there and it’s a big deal. And I’m watching this kid and she’s saying, well the doctors want to give him Riddilin – I don’t know if you know what Riddilin is – pill happy doctors give it out... hyperactivity in kids is like a disease du jour right now so basically, a lot of kids are promiscuously over-medicated. They’re handing Riddilin around like it s a bus pass. And she s saying, »No, I don’t want my Chito to take Riddilin, he s gonna turn into a cow... he drives me crazy, but at least I know that’s him.«

How much time did you spend with the cops before Sea of Love?

So I’m listening to this stuff, and I’m thinking, this is all going to go in, in some way, shape or form. I’m thinking of all the stuff I’ve seen around the bodies and stuff. And, anyway, the bill comes in for this meal, and I m treating everybody. So I go to pay with my American Express card, which is this card. [shows the card] American Express comes in blue, gold and platinum and I have a gold card. And all of a sudden the kid, he sees me take out the Gold card and his eyes get huge and he says, »Oh mommy look!«, and he grabs my card. And I m thinking how does this kid from the Bronx, who lives in this hellhole, how the hell does this kid know the difference between blue, gold and platinum American Express cards? And he points t the image in the middle, which is a Roman Centurion, and he says, »Mommy, look, there’s one of the guys who killed Jesus!« And that was his take on credit cards. I mean... When I go out there, shit like this always happens. I didn’t know it was coming, I didn’t plan to have it to happen, and it happened. So, what I stumble on is always so much more interesting than what I set out to deal with.

As I was writing the story... I mean, I had a rough idea for a story, so I go out a couple of weeks, a couple of months. I’m not living with these guys, I’m seeing them maybe once or twice a week, for a couple of hours. They show me around – this is how we do this, this is how we do that. All very interesting, but I swear, every time I went out there, I came back with something I had no idea I was looking for. I’ll tell you another amazing thing that happened with these cops. I got this friend, I doubt... you might have heard of him... he was an underground filmmaker in the 1970’s. His name is Amos... He did a lot of films when the punk-underground scene was happening, in all the arts, that s when he came in as a director where he d make a film for 30.000 dollars and you spend the rest of your life being invited to film festivals. Amos did a number of films, he was a true independent guerrilla filmmaker. At some point, he wanted to do a movie that involved cops. So I said to Amos, look, why don’t you come with me. I’ll take you out to the homicide squad in Jersey City, New Jersey and they’ll talk to you. These cops, they’re obsessed... they want to get into movies. Actors and writers want to be cops, cops want to be actors and writers, you know... So, anybody in films, they’ll be happy to meet.

Yeah. I’m writing about a cop. I’m not a cop, I don’t know any cops, so I’m starting to make connections.

So Amos comes down. Now Amos is kinda this funky downtown guy. He’s kinda stocky and he s got a shaved head, he’s got a thick neck. And he dresses in this kind of weird, Sohoey kinda way: a fedora, a Hawaiian shirt, baggy shorts and black shoes with white socks. But he makes it work. He knows exactly what he’s doing. You know, he’s always visually interesting. Oh yeah, not only is he bald, but he’s decided to grow sideburns, along his jaw.

There are certain archetypal, perpetual characters, in American film at least. You know, cops and robbers. Why do another cops and robbers story. How many cops

Now police are basically suburban, middle-class people. And I bring Amos out and he’s kinda dressed like that, with this little fedora on and the baggy shorts

But you choose to be with this cop outside of his work hours.

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have we seen this year alone – 30? 40? So I just want to go off-hours. I want a more fully realised character. But research depends what you re writing about. Sometimes research can take you away from any particular kind of intimacy, because you get hung up on the externals of stuff you don t know. And you want to capture these externals, like you re a journalist, or an investigative reporter and that s not really art. So it depends.

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plying sugar into this hyperactive kid at eleven o’ clock at night. And this cop is looking at her and they’re kinda necking at the table at this Chinese restaurant down in Manhattan. People in the Bronx, when they go down to Manhattan, it’s like they’ve travelled thousands of miles. The Bronx is like urban hillbillies, even though it’s only fifteen minutes away by subway, it’s two solar systems away mentally and culturally.


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»Clockers« was nominated for the »National Book Critics Circle Award«. It has been praised for its humor, suspense, dialogue, and character development. In 1995, it was made into a film directed by Spike Lee; Price and Lee shared writing credits for the screenplay.

and I say to the cops, this is a friend of mine, this is Amos. He wants to make a film and he wants to learn stuff. They look at him and say »Hi, Amos, howya doin’«. They’re acting so friendly to this guy. Like, »Amos, do ya wanna see where we keep the evidence from a homicide?« – and they’re talking kinda loud. »Do ya wanna see what type of gun we have?« And they re talking like this and I’m thinking, why the hell are they talking like this for. Amos is saying, cool, great, thanks. So we go home and the next day I get this call from one of these cops and he’s almost in tears and he says, »Rich, I didn’t know you had it in you. I think that’s one of the nicest things you ever did.« What did I do? »Well, bringing that retarded guy around.« Do ya wanna see our guns? And then I thought, hmmm, if I didn’t know Amos, maybe... Can you tell us if you have a routine? A writing routine? You get an idea, a beginning an ending and you sit down and do what?

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At this point I can start films in about 3 or 4 different ways. For example, Freedomland, I sold it to Paramount. Now I’m supposed to write the script for this. So I’m about to start, I’m not looking forward to it, it s my own book, it’s 600 pages and I’ve got to make into a 110 page singing telegram. And before I start, I get a call. He says »how would you like to make a lot of quick money?« You know the movie Shaft? The black detective movie from the 70s, a big blaxploitation movie. Richard Roundtree was a big pop icon in the 70s. They’re remaking Shaft with John Singleton directing. And Scott says, well, we’ve got a script for Shaft and could you give us maybe two weeks on it? Just quo-

te unquote punch up the dialogue? Punch up the dialogue, in Hollywoodese, means forget everything, you’re going to work on – stop for three months and you re going to throw everything out including the words »the« and »and«. wSo that’s what I’m doing. I thought, oh, it’s going to be fun and who cares, it’ll be fun to work it. So that s one way I get involved in a movie. The other way is, if I have an idea, I will approach particular studios with particular individuals that I’ve worked with before and pitch. I’ll tell the story and try to tell it as fast as I can, 15 – 20 minutes, cause that’s the attention span. And the danger is talking too long because if they get bored listening to your pitch, how interested are they going to be sitting through a two – hour movie that s gonna cost them 50 million dollars. So the trick is to get and out of there before their eyelids starting drooping. That’s another way I can do it. The third way is that they’ll come to me and say that they’ve acquired this book and we think you’d be good to write this screenplay adaptation. I mean, there’s all sorts of ways I can do it. Let me expand on that then. You have an idea for a film, your own idea. What do you do when you sit down at your computer. What s your personal routine? Me personally? Oh, you re talking about the technical elements. I thought you meant the business of it. Okay, what I do is I have an idea. Basically, I write the idea down or keep it in my head and the idea is just a couple of paragraphs long. Then I’ll try to break it down. I will basically work off a series of lists. Let’s say I have a story. And let’s say I can’t figure


— Richard Price SAID BY RODNEY

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»If God created anything better than crack cocaine he kept that shit for hisself.«


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»You know me. It’s my duty to please that booty!« — Richard Price

SAID BY JOHN SHAFT


»I don’t want to start writing until I know how I want to finish the damn thing. Because otherwise I’m gonna end up 80 miles into the Black Woods.«

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out the end or, I hate to say it, the third act. What happens to these guys? How do they get out of it? How does it come to a head?

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First thing I do is I figure out that. I don’t want to start writing until I know how I want to finish the damn thing. Because otherwise I’m gonna end up 80 miles into the Black Woods, you know, sixty pages into a screenplay... and you do not want to get lost narratively in your own screenplay when a screenplay is so tight and small. You really should know what’s gonna happen. Roughly, at least. Beginning, middle and end. How do you want to end it. You’ve got to work out your ending. It might change as you write, but at least before you start know your ultimate destination. Let’s say I’ve figured that out. I’ll just write down, bang, bang, bang – these are the three big things. These guys start out this way, all of a sudden they re in the shit and they get out of it. Then I start just brea-

Price has written numerous screenplays including »The Color of Money« [1986], for which he was nominated for an Oscar, »Life Lessons« [the Martin Scorsese segment of New York Stories] [1989], »Sea of Love« [1989], »Mad Dog« and »Glory« [1992], »Ransom« [1996] and »Shaft« [2000].

king it down. From the beginning to this big quicksand dilemma in the middle. Just off the top of my head, I’ll chip in six ideas for scenes for how to get there. Okay, you’ve gotta show this, then that and then that. I’m just writing down short phrases for each event. And now I’ve broken it down from the beginning to sort of the middle and I’ve got six or seven strokes. Then I look at them and see if there s any mini – strokes or can I start moving on. And that might be enough to feel like I can start because I know where I’m going. Even though what I’m writing right now doesn’t look like it’s going to lead anywhere, I know in my head, seven ticks to the middle. They’re like rungs on a trapeze. The trick is to have enough in the outline... and once again, this is different for everybody, but this is for me... the thing is to have enough of an outline to not ever feel like I don’t know where the hell I’m going. Things might change but I don’t want an outline so tight that I don’t have any room to improvise. I don’t have any room to change my mind. So the trick is to have it there, but not to have it so that its strangling me. Like scene 1, 1A, 1ABC, C sub – section, etc. If you write it that tight, you might as well mail it in, or like your daughter can do it. But that’s the trick for me, to know roughly where I’m headed. Now, what can possibly happen is that when you actually write that very first scene, or the second or third scene, something in what you just wrote is going to make you see that, well this fourth thing I’m going to do just doesn’t feel right anymore. Things come up in the act of writing, in the physical act of writing, that you can, in no way, anticipate before you write. Characters come alive as they come out of your hand in a way you can’t second guess.


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»Each character has gotta be individual enough from any other character. Maybe this is where dialogue comes into it, not just action. «

And that’s always gonna happen, it should happen and you gotta allow for that to happen. Hopefully, it’s not gonna all of a sudden make you realise that what you really want to write about is the history of the FBI and how they screwed the Oklahoma Indians in 1920 to get all the oil rights, or something like that. Hopefully, you’re not gonna go off on such a tangent that you might as well start all over again. But you just gotta allow for those in-moment discoveries. So you use seven beats to the middle... Seven, five, twelve, I don’t know. Enough to make me feel like I sort of know what I m doing. I’ll more or less get there if not with these seven beats, then by the third beat, or four through six... it’s not really relevant. I have a much better idea now because these characters are living in me. I’ve broken the ice with them. I’ve consummated my relationship with them on paper.

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Do you ever do a biography for your characters? No, but I gotta feel like I can answer questions about my characters in my own head. I mean, if you ask me what would this guy do if he had one night in New York and unlimited money, I could probably answer that, but I wouldn’t have thought about that until you asked me that. The character is probably alive enough in my head, in my imagination, to fill out a biography if I had to, but I don’t see a point in doing that. On paper. I mean, it would kinda like a lucky thing, like carrying a rabbit s foot in your pocket, but I don t see the point in doing a biography. Each character has gotta be individual enough from

any other character. Maybe this is where dialogue comes into it, not just action. They say what’s the deal with dialogue in the movies. Well, dialogue is not really that important. However, good dialogue is that when a particular character speaks, after you’ve heard that character two or three times already in the script, you’ve seen his name in the script, you’ve seen two or three other characters – their names and how they speak – 20-30 pages into the script, if you heard a line of dialogue, you’d should be able to say, oh, that s probably that guy speaking. And if you write good dialogue, the dialogue will be singular. Dialogue is how people string together words to express their personalities and thoughts. It’s like a fingerprint. Everybody’s slightly different in how their speak. So that’s where dialogue is important. But that’s the frustration of just being a writer. Movies are about visuality, they’re not about the page, they’re not about the words that come out of people’s mouths. It s about the looks on their faces, it’s about how they hold their hands on the bar. It’s about how their eyes move and they move secretly. So I would write roughly the most banal conversation I could think of but I would also be writing in stage directions, not technical stage directions like closeup, POV or anything like that but like a novelist would write. Little observations of how I envision this nonverbally and the director is free to interpret that. I just want to make it a great read. I want someone to read it and see it. I’m gonna try to be efficient with this descriptive stuff. I don’t want it to read more like prose than like a screenplay, but I’m gonna put in what I think could be significant cues, significant


NE W YORK C ONV E RSATIONS — RIC HA RD PRIC E

How much time does it take before you present the script to anyone else? Well, usually I’ll work it all the way through. I don’t type, so I’ll get it typed up and then I’ll look at it. And when it’s typed and you look at it, it’s a bit a shock, cause you’ve been working in handwriting and it’s visually different so you have to get over that shock. You gotta read it two or three times because the first time you read it, everything seems wrong so you’ve gotta calm down and then read it again. And you cut a little bit or you add something. Then I’ll send it off. Not too much, I’ll just play with it a little bit. But usually I’m having a running dialogue with the people at the other end of this process. I mean, people are gonna know the story, because I want to know that I’ve got an arrangement and so they’ll know the story and they re gonna throw their two cents in. Be it a producer or a director or somebody. So it’s not like they don’t know what they’re gonna get. But I want it to be as good as possible before they see it, without killing myself. We’ve been talking about rules and research and tools of inspiration. Do you use other tools, or what are the main tools you use? Either a story comes to me full-blown and I feel that I understand the people enough to just sit down and write, which unfortunately is rare, or I’ll just go out, I mean, the stories are out there, you know. Just going out there, I’m going see what I think I want, but I didn’t really know until I went out there and that’s really what I want.

Research is... if you don t really know what the world is like, the world you re writing about, it s hard to say what your story s gonna be. But sometimes it doesn’t take much, like this weird epiphany like the kid with the credit card. You can really go to town on that. and it’s nothing to do with kids or credit cards but the whole world that leads to a reaction like that. //

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physical acts, actions to help this non-conversation that the characters are having come about.


MI CHA E L HA UGE — D O YOU WA NT TO BE A SC REENW RITE R? T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

Do you really want to be a screenwriter? — By Michael Hauge I’ve been teaching screenwriting classes and seminars for more than fifteen years, and I’ve worked with thousands of movie and television writers at various stages of their careers. But, whenever I’m with a group of would-be filmmakers hoping to launch their careers, I encounter two different myths about the Hollywood obstacle course that both lead to disappointment. The first misconception is that Hollywood is an easy path to fame and fortune. Perhaps a writer watches some brainless TV show and concludes that anybody with the I.Q. of corn could write drively like that. Then she reads about how Joe Esterhasz sold a spec script for slightly more than the gross national product of Portugal, while she’s wondering how long she can get by on her $25 check from ›Big Rig Monthly‹ for her article on mud flaps. And then some polite, but chicken-hearted, publisher tries to let her down easy by saying that her 873-page manuscript about the Millard Fillmore White House years would be much better as a movie. So before you know it, she’s typing ›FADE IN.‹ She has fallen victim to the erroneous belief that writing a movie is no harder than watching one. She thinks that everybody who sells a script will be a millionaire and that because movies and TV shows are plentiful, relatively short and frequently mediocre, there really are no rules, standards or professional skills to worry about.

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In other words, that screenwriting is easy.

Not True.

The other, more destructive, myth about screenwriting is just the opposite: a writer hears about the thousands of unproduced, unsold, unoptioned, unread and unopened screenplays floating around Hollywood and decides that his dream is absurd. Friends, loved ones and failed screenwriters will be happy to reinforce this belief with loads of anecdotes and statistics: everybody in Los Angeles is working on a script; it’s not what you know, it’s who you know; every writer in Hollywood gets ripped off; you have to live in Southern California; you have to be a young white male; and even if you could break in, writing movies is obviously a ridiculous, pointless, demeaning and hopeless pursuit for any serious writer to consider. In other words, screenwriting is impossible.

Not True Either.


MI CHA E L HA UGE — D O YOU WA NT TO BE A SC REENW RITE R? T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

The first myth described above ignores the years of pain, struggle and failure that precedes [and sometimes precludes] success for mostworking screenwriters. But, the second myth ignores the fact that about a hundred and fifty feature films, plus more than fifty TV movies and seventy weekly series are produced each year by the major studios and networks. And, for every film produced, an average of at least five scripts are developed and paid for. And these figures don’t include non-primetime and cable television or the numerous markets for independent, educational, industrial, religious and adult movies and TV. Somebody must be writing all those stories.


MI CHA E L HA UGE — D O YOU WA NT TO BE A SC REENW RITE R? T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

The wrong reasons to want to be a screenwriter 1. You want the respect that comes with being an acclaimed artist — Dream on. Once you sell your screenplay, it probably will be re-written by someone else until it’s unrecognizable. You’re usually persona non grata while the movie is being shot, and neither the status nor the financial reward given the average screenwriter is anywhere close to proportionate to his or her contribution to the film. If you want real respect in Hollywood, become a maitre d’.

2. The money — Pursuing screenwriting because an occasional spec script sells for a million dollars is like studying hotel/motel management because Donald Trump has a big yacht. Starving screenwriters are no happier than starving poets, and if the big bucks are your only goal, by the time [if ever] you get there, the trip won’t have been worth it.

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3. You have a strong visual sense — I’m not even sure what this means, but I hear it all the time, and, if anything, I think it’s detrimental to successful screenwriting. Sure you want to picture what is going on on the screen, but the important talent is the ability to turn action into words. If you think only in pictures and are very right-brained, pursuing a career in production design, cinematography or directing might make more sense.

4. You want to improve the quality of movies — If you don’t like the stuff that’s coming out of Hollywood nowadays, and you find yourself gravitating to foreign films and Fred Astaire festivals at the local Cineplex, or if you don’t see at least one current American movie a month, then screenwriting probably isn’t for you. 5. You want to adapt your own novel [or play or life story] — This is hard to accept, I know, but trust me: if your novel or play wasn’t published or produced in its original form, it’s extremely unlikely it’s going to work as a movie. And, by now, you’re much too emotionally attached to your original story. You will never be objective enough about it to make the numerous changes necessary for it to become a commercial script.


The right reasons to want to be a screenwriter 1. You love to write — Screenwriting may not employ all the big words in the dictionary, but you still get to spend your day lost in the power of language. 2. You’ll reach a huge audience — More people saw last week’s episode of »The West Wing« than have read »Gone With the Wind«. Makes you stop and think, doesn’t it?

3. The money — Yes, I know I just said that untold wealth is the wrong reason for pursuing screenwriting. But if money isn’t your only motive, and you know you want to write, then you can probably make more as a steadily working screenwriter than with any other form of writing. Just remember that it’s a package deal, and all of the other rules and obstacles are included.

4. You love the movies [and/or television] — You not only love seeing them, you relish the challenge of staying within a rigid formula and creating a visual story that is original, thoughtful and emotionally captivating. 5. You get to tells stories — If creating unique, captivating characters and taking them over seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve visible, biggerthan-life goals is the kind of writing that thrills you, then you should consider movie writing. //

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6. You want to weave magic with words — If your love of writing is based on the beauty, texture, breadth and majesty of the English language, you’ll be much happier as a poet, novelist or essayist. Screenwriting ‚style‘ is much closer to that of ad copy, comic books and the sports pages than it is to great literature.


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On the Rise: 10 Screenwriters to watch in 2014 — By Oliver Lyttelton Screenwriters historically get a rough ride in Hollywood. If a film works, they’re normally skipped over when it’s time to hand out the credit; if it doesn’t they’re the first to be blamed. They’re rewritten, fired, replaced, rehired, fired again, underpaid, made to do free drafts, generally abused, and disrespected. And then the star takes the credit for the best lines anyway.

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And yet, no movie that you love would exist without a screenwriter to come up with the damn thing in the first place; they’re the most consistently and perplexingly undervalued part of the process.


Brad Ingelsby At one point, Brad Ingelsby had one of the hottest scripts in town. His crime drama »The Low Dweller«, another Black List hit, written while AFI grad Inglesby was working as an insurance salesman, sold to Relativity Media back in 2008, with Leonardo DiCaprio set to star, and Ridley Scott considering directing. The latter didn’t commit, ultimately, but commercials helmer Rupert Sanders came on board the next year. Ultimately the film – a pitch-black, brutal and strangely poetic picture about a convict seeking revenge for the death of his brother at the hands of a local crime lord – didn’t move forward in that incarnation. But after a few years on other projects,

Rajiv Joseph & Scott Rothman The winners of previous Black Lists have come from a varied range of experiences, from first-time writers to industry veterans. So it’s fitting that the first writing team to place first, Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman, are quite the odd couple. Joseph is one of the most acclaimed playwrights of his generation, thanks to works like »Animals Out Of Paper«, »Gruesome Playground Injuries« and the Pulitzer-shortlisted »Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo« which hit Broadway in 2011 starring Robin Williams. Rothman, meanwhile, is a screenwriter who leans towards the comic side of things, who’d previously sold screenplays »First Timers« and »Frat Boy« to New Line and Warner Bros respectively. The two were close friends at NYU, and have remained so since, partly due to their love of football, which led to the idea of »Draft Day«, their Black List topper, revolving around the NFL Draft. Compared to »Moneyball« by many, the script, which focuses on a General Manager for the Buffalo Bills, was written in only a week, and swiftly sold to Ivan Reitman’s company Montecito Pictures, and set up at Paramount. The project faltered at first, put into turnaround by the studio, but after placing first in the Black List, has been revived by Lionsgate, with Reitman and star Kevin Costner still involved. They’ve

ON THE RISE

It’s probably safe to say that Brian Duffield had a rocky start to the week. His first produced film, the western » Jane Got A Gun«, was supposed to start filming on Monday, but as has been well documented, director Lynne Ramsay failed to turn up for work. But given that, in the first place, the script managed [at one point] to attract not only Ramsay, but also Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton and Michael Fassbender, and given the quality of his earlier scripts, we have no doubt that the woes around the film are just a minor bump in Duffield’s ascension. The Pennsylvania-born writer [who’s an active and honest presence on Twitter, and a one-time contributor to awards site In Contention] broke through in 2010. While he was working in a clothes factory in Vernon, Cailfornia, his script »Your Bridesmaid Is A Bitch« managed, through friends, to make it into the hands of management/production company Circle Of Confusion, who snapped both it, and Duffield up, with the script landing on that year’s Black List. Following a broken-hearted twentysomething who discovers that his sister has chosen his ex-girlfriend to be the bridesmaid at her wedding, it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s a smart and funny take on the rom-com, with snappy dialogue and characters a few shades more complex than what you’d normally expect from the genre. It’s set up at David Ellison’s Skydance Productions, with »Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil« helmer Eli Craig attached to direct. But it’s » Jane« that got into production first, at least until the recent hitch, and it’s very different; a dark Western, that shows what a versatile writer Duffield can be. We suspect that, once the Ramsay controversy has become trivia, there’s a lot more to see from the screenwriter.

Inglesby heavily rewrote the script, and it ended up retitled »Out Of The Furnace«, with »Crazy Heart« helmer Scott Cooper directing, and an impressive cast including Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Zoe Saldana and Woody Harrelson. The film’s now in the can awaiting release, and Ingelsby has been busy. He wrote a remake of Korean crime flick »Die Bad« for Marc Forster, adapted comic book »Sleeper« for Sam Raimi and Tom Cruise, and penned another crime flick, »Buried«, that »Little Children« director Todd Field was considering at one point. More recently, he was also tapped for the remake of Gareth Evans’ cult actioner »The Raid«, although word’s been quiet on that for a while. »Out Of The Furnace« is set to be his first produced screenplay, impressively, but we shouldn’t have long to wait after that. Liam Neeson and Joel Kinnaman are starring in the Jaume Collet-Serra-directed father-son action thriller »All Nighter« this fall, while »Buried« has been retitled »Hold On To Me«, and will star Robert Pattinson and Carey Mulligan, with Field stepping aside for »Man On Wire« helmer James Marsh. Good things come to those who wait, then...

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Brian Duffield


ON THE RISE

got another script, an adaptation of Alan Paul’s book »Big In China«, in the works at Montecito, and were recently hired to pen a remake of German comedy »Kokowaah« as a potential directing vehicle for Bradley Cooper.

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Noah Oppenheim As day jobs go, being the producer of »The Today Show« is a pretty impressive one, and you have to wonder how Noah Oppenheim managed to find time to work on screenplays [though he’s since made the movies his full time gig]. Oppenheim [who also co-created »Mad Money«, and was director of development at Reveille after leaving ‚Today‘] made his screenwriting debut with »Jackie«, a biopic of one Jacqueline Kennedy, that focuses on the then-First Lady in the immediate aftermath of her husband’s assassination. It’s a terrific script, moving and propulsive [we took a detailed look at it back in the day], and it immediately got in front of a lot of A-list eyes: Steven Spielberg flirted with producing it for HBO, before then-couple Darren Aronofsky and Rachel Weisz became attached to the script. When they broke up, the film seemed to hit a stumbling block, but more recently, Fox Searchlight have been trying to sign Natalie Portman up to the project, though no director is on board as yet. Still, Oppenheim’s been busy. He was hired for remakes of »Snabba Cash«, »WarGames« and »1984«, and also has Joe Wright circling his adventure script »The Secret Life of Houdini«, which is set up at Summit. But his first into production is likely to be »The Maze Runner«, a young adult adaptation that’s gearing up at Fox, set for release next spring, though he also did a polish on the Wally Pfister-directed sci-fi actioner »Transcendence«, which will follow soon after. Hopefully »Jackie« will finally be along too...

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Jack Paglen Pretty much every aspiring screenwriter has the moment where they imagine finishing their script, getting it out there, and seeing it come to the attention of the biggest director and movie star in the world. For most, it’s a fantasy, but for Jack Paglen, it actually happened. His breakthrough script »Transcendence« is set to be executive-produced by Christopher Nolan [the film marks the directorial debut of his regular DoP, Wally Pfister], and will be led by megastar Johnny Depp, with Paul Bettany and Rebecca Hall signed on to join him on a project that Warner Bros have already set as one of their big 2014 tentpoles. And what’s remarkable is that Paglen has made it

this far without a single produced credit. The mysterious screenwriter [who some suggested was a pseudonym, but is a real guy] graduated from Columbia in 2006, and ended up on the Black List the following year, with his thesis script »Joy«, a drama about a man who returns from the Amazon only to discover that his suicidal sister has gone missing. The script wasn’t picked up, but did land him representation at ICM. In the meantime, Paglen’s been teaching screenwriting at the New York Film Academy in L.A, while working on his scripts, but it was »Transcendence« that’s been the making of him, and with good reason. It’s an impressive, epic and emotional piece of hard science-fiction, convincing in its scientific detail, but able to handle spectacle and character alongside it. It comes off the rail a touch in its final act [as we said above, Noah Oppenheim has done a rewrite, which may have fixed this], but it’s still no wonder that it got the attention of Pfister, Nolan and Depp. There’s no word what Paglen’s up to next, but we’re sure it won’t be long before he’s working on something equally high-profile.

Nicole Perlman & Chris McCoy Joss Whedon and Shane Black aside, Marvel aren’t known for hiring big-names screenwriters, but their picks for »Guardians of the Galaxy« are bold even by their standards, with two scribes who don’t have a single produced credit between them. But from what we’ve read, there’s good reason that the comic-company-turned-studio have picked these two out. Nicole Perlman made her name at 25 with a script called »Challenger«, which told the story of physicist Richard Feynman’s investigations into the Challenger space shuttle explosion. The film came close to production with Philip Kaufman directing and David Strathairn starring, only for financing to fall apart, but it got her a job on another factually-based space movie, »Capture The Flag«, as well as a third, Neil Armstrong biopic »First Man« at Universal. Perlman also spent time in Disney’s now-defunct screenwriting program, coming to Marvel’s attention by writing a well-liked, secretive draft of a »Black Widow« solo movie [that’s never been put further into development], which saw her being brought in to do an uncredited polish on »Thor« as a result. The studio’s happiness with these saw her hired for »Guardians Of The Galaxy« a while back, and if her previous work is anything to go by, she’ll be grounding the fantastical adventure in real science. Whereas


Michael Starrbury Despite being one of the buzzier titles at Sundance, »The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister And Pete«, about two Brooklyn kids [Skylan Brooks and Ethan Dizon] who leave their drug-addicted mothers to set up for themselves, is yet to land U.S. distribution. But whatever happens to it, the film certainly seems to have served as something of a calling card for screenwriter Michael Starrbury. Starrbury broke through with his Black Listed script »Watch Roger Do His Thing«, about a retired hitman, and after that, penned a Comedy Central pilot called »Black Jack«, which starred Ving Rhames, and was directed by David Gordon Green, and yet somehow failed to get picked up [we’d give our left arm to see that one...], while a half-hour comedy for ABC produced by Peter Tolan [»Rescue Me«] also failed to progress. But he got a lot of attention in Park City this year for »Mister and Pete«, which also stars Jeffrey Wright, Anthony Mackie, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jennifer Hudson and Jordin Sparks, and drew comparisons to »The Wire« and »Precious.« Beyond that, he’s got two big studio pictures in the works: »The Great Unknown«, a comic book adaptation for »MacGruber« director Jorma Taccone, and actioner »Fully Automatic« at Warner Bros. And he just landed the plum gig of rewriting the Tupac Shakur biopic off the back of the notices for »Mister & Pete.« He seems to have pretty diverse skills, leaping from comedy to action to drama, and we suspect thatwe’re only just starting to scratch the surface of his success.

If you’re familiar with any of these guys, it’s probably Chris Terrio, seeing as he just won an Oscar about four weeks back for his work on Ben Affleck’s »Argo.« But the 36-year-old Harvard grad is still a relative newcomer, and is yet one of the most soughtafter writers around, so we’d be fools not to include him here. Terrio started out as an assistant for James Ivory, of Merchant Ivory fame, before winning some acclaim by directing and writing the short »Book Of Kings.« This led him to financing for his feature directorial debut, »Heights«, which rode an impressive cast [including Glenn Close, Isabella Rosselini, George Segal, James Marsden, Elizabeth Banks and Rufus Wainwright] to a Sundance premiere in 2005. The film [based on Amy Fox’s play] picked up decent notices, but was mostly ignored on release, but nevertheless, it managed to get Terrio more screenwriting work, even though he’d only contributed additional material to »Heights« [making »Argo« his first proper screenwriting credit]. Terrio’s subsequent work included a version of »Richard II« at Merchant Ivory that Jude Law circled for a while, but Terrio finally got his big break after getting the »Argo« gig, the script landing on the Black List as a result. And in the two years between then and the film reaching the screen, the writer’s been unfathomably busy. He penned a remake of French thriller »Tell No One« for Affleck, has a spy thriller called »Weather Service« in development, and took on another true-life tale with »A Murder Foretold«, based on the murder of a man in Guatemala, who left behind a videotape implicating the country’s president in the death. There’s lots more on the way, too.

Jack Thorne Jack Thorne is someone who’s been bubbling under for a little while, coming on our radars quite a few years back, but has exploded into activity in the last year or so with several projects set to hit between now and the end of 2014. Thorne started off as a playwright, and after some time with the Royal Court Theatre’s Young Writers Programme, debuted his breakthrough play »When You Cure Me« at the Bush Theatre in London in 2005 [other ones have followed, including »Fanny and Faggot«, »Bunny«, »2 May 1997« and,most recently, a new version of »The Physicists«]. This brought him to the attention of Brian Eisley, who

ON THE RISE

Chris Terrio

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Chris McCoy, who was hired for the project more recently, is more likely to be bringing the funny. McCoy is a Black List staple who’s had a number of high-concept comedies in development in recent years. There’s »Get Back«, about time-travelling Beatles fans who try to stop Yoko from breaking up the band, with »Burt Wonderstone« helmer Don Scardino directing, »Good Looking«, an »Eternal Sunshine«-ish rom-com with Alison Brie attached, and comedy-drama »Year Abroad.« He’s also got a coming-of-age script called »Good Kids« that he’s set to direct himself, and animation »Little White Lie«, which Jan Pinkava was set to make at »ParaNorman« backers Laika at one point. Last summer, he sold a fairy-tale-themed rom-com to Disney, which helped him land the »Guardians‘ gig [while Perlman’s also continuing to work with the studio, having sold original sci-fi pitch »Terra Incognita« last year.]


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was in the process of creating a new teen series that would end up being called »Skins.« As well as launching the likes of Nicholas Hoult, Kaya Scodelario, Jack O’Connell and Daniel Kaluuya, it served as a breeding ground for writers like Thorne, who penned a number of the show’s best episodes. Other TV work followed, including two that Thorne created, the excellent »Castoffs« and the even better »The Fades«, while he teamed up with Shane Meadows for movie spin-offs »This Is England ’86« and »This Is England ‚88.« But at the same time, he was starting to break into movies. His coming-of-age drama »The Scouting Book For Boys« is something of a Playlist favorite; wrenching and dark and beautifully made, it sadly never got a U.S. release, despite being one of the better recent British films, but it’s led to a lot more movie work. Aside from a »Skins« movie, Thorne debuted a short film, »Jonah«, at Sundance this year, and is credited on both the Nick Hornby adaptation »A Long Way Down«, and Kevin Macdonald’s end-of-the-world romance »How I Live Now«, starring Saoirse Ronan. There’s more where that came from too. He penned the post-apocalyptic young adult adaptation »Blood Red Road«, and a TV movie of Stephen Kelman’s »Pigeon English« for Ridley Scott, a version of the novel »Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand« for Warner Bros, and most recently, was hired for magician movie »Mortimer Wintergreen« by Johnny Depp’s company, with Depp likely to star. And when you’ve got Johnny Depp’s attention, you know you’re made...

te moved forward, with the exception of little-seen horror »Asylum Blackout.« But 2012 saw a flurry of activity. First, Michael Mann became attached to his present-day crime thriller »The Big Stone Grid«, then »Oldboy« and »Stoker« helmer Park Chan-Wook gave »Brigands« a new lease of life by coming aboard, then he set up a martial-arts series called »Downtown Dragons« at FX, and has a directorial debut called »Bone Tomahawk« in the works, to star Kurt Russell, Timothy Olyphant and Richard Jenkins.

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S. Craig Zahler While things are moving quickly for the 2012 victors, Joseph and Rothman, topping the Black List doesn’t necessarily automatically lead to instant fame. S. Craig Zahler, for instance, placed first on the second-ever list back in 2006 with his Cormac McCarthyinfused Western »The Brigands Of Rattleborge«, but it’s only in the last twelve months or so that things have really lifted off for him. »Brigands«, widely regarded as one of the best unproduced screenplays of the last decade, is a rule-breaking western epic about a gang who plan to rob a town during an almighty storm, and its unique voice, fascinating characters and twisty plot certainly put Zahler on the map. The script was optioned by Warner Bros, but got stuck in development hell, but Zahler has stayed busy. He was hired by Tobey Maguire to pen a »Robotech« movie, developed a western series at Starz entitled »Men of the Dusk«, and wrote two novels: »A Congregation of Jackals« and the imminent »Wraiths Of The Broken Land.« But of the movie gigs, nothing qui-

Honorable Mentions There are plenty of other writers to keep an eye on in the near-future. For instance, the most recent Black List featured names like Sean Armstrong [»A Country Of Strangers«], Young Il Kim [»Rodham«], Richard Wenk [»The Equalizer«], Justin Rhodes [»The Join«], Josh Campbell & Matt Steucken [an untitled project at Bad Robot], Allan Durand [»Willie Francis Must Die Again«] and Patrick Aison [»Echo Station«]. Meanwhile, writers who have acclaimed projects in theaters recently, or in the near future, and look to go on to greater things, include Kay Cannon [»Pitch Perfect«], Neil Cross [»Pacific Rim«, »Luther«], Chris Galletta [»The Kings Of Summer«], Aaron Guzikowski [»Prisoners«,], and Vera Blasi, whose »Pontius Pilate« has Brad Pitt circling. //


IMPRINT

Imprint —

© 2014 Finn Reimer This magazine was created as part of my final project at the Design Factory International Hamburg in the winter semester 2013 /  2014. Concept, Design & Composition: Finn Reimer Print and Binding: Druckwelten GmbH Printed on: Munken Lynx Rough / Rainbow Font: Generika by Milieu Grotesque Cover: Quote by Spike Jonze Web: writersfestival.net Photos: 07 – 12 by Henning Rogge Text Sources: 14 – 22 »Session Schedule« screenwritersworld.com 24 – 40 »Billy Wilder – The Art of Screenwriting« theparisreview.org 42 – 64 »Award Nominees« imdb.com & wikipedia.org 67 – 77 »Richard Price at Hotel Chelsea« zakka.dk 78 – 81 »Do you really want to be a Screenwriter?« writersstore.com 82 – 86 »On the Rise« blogs.indiewire.com 88 »What advicewould you give your 18-year-old self?« scriptmag.com Thanks to: Mum & Dad / Lorenz S. Dietrich / Henning Rogge Tom Wibberenz / Kai Dohse / Angela Kühn / Tonci Cenic Jan Mötting / Heiko Jansen / Thomas Schrimpf / Stefan Siegl / Tim Könecke / Marlen Weise / Melina Rosalie Stark Mareike Küfer / Philipp Schlott

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SCREENWRITERS FESTIVAL MAGAZINE / 2014


E DWA RD SA XON — D EA R SE LF T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

»What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?« —

Dear Self, Pay attention to your education. When you get out in the working world you are going to need all that learning. Imagine that you are a plumber and school is where they hand out the monkey wrenches and spanners that you use every day. As a story professional those tools are an intimate knowledge of genre, character, and structure of the great films, plays and stories. Master the basics of written communication and learn how to be clear and economical in saying what you mean. It’s a lifelong process.

leagues you make while you are coming up are going to get more important to you as you move on in life. Don’t forget to have fun. You’ll have more of it if you share your successes, are grateful for what you have right now, and don’t take yourself too seriously. More than half of the good and bad things that happen are a result of chance. Yours sincerely,

Your stories are your legacy. Think about what morality or belief system you may be pushing or endorsing. Some sage said the job of great art is to »comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.« Be unreasonable in your enthusiasm. Work like you’re 10 minutes from a deadline. Do more than is expected and you’ll get promoted. If you like someone, let them know it. If you like their work, tell your friends. Don’t be afraid to light your hair on fire and evangelize about the virtues of a new actor, a song, a great TV show. You’ll want someone to do that about your work one day.

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Make things. If you write a page a day you’ll have 365 pages at the end of a year! Storytelling isn’t a job, it’s a vocation. A devote priest prays morning, noon, and night. We storytellers watch, write, and read on mornings, weekends, and in the wee hours. Be careful with people’s feelings. The mandate is to insist on excellence in the work while treating people how you would like to be treated. The friends and col-

Edward Saxon


T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L

INTERV IEW — RIC HA RD PRIC E


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