Yesterday, love was such an easy game to play.
Now I need a place to hide away.
Yesterday (Written by Lennon/McCartney, performed by The Beatles)
So you can wipe off that grin, I know where you’ve been
It’s all been a pack of lies
In the Air Tonight
This week I’ve been touching on Oscar-nominated screenwriters leading up to the Academy Awards Sunday. And while (500) Days of Summer didn’t get an Oscar nomination I wanted to give it a special mention. Last night it did win the best screenplay at Independent Spirit Awards. (Only films made for $20 million or less are eligible.) Congrats to screenwriter Scott Neustader and Michael Weber for the win.
I wasn’t one of the people who saw (500) Days of Summer multiple times, but I did enjoy the fresh angle on the romantic comedy genre. I remember someone telling me when I was a teenager that when some people break up with someone they’re dating they turn to drinking and waste away, and some people write a hit song about the break up. No one told me I could write a screenplay about it.
That would have come in handy when I was a senior in college and my girlfriend of a several years told me (after three margaritas) that she had been seeing someone else. But when Scott Nuestader was frustrated with the dating relationships in his life he did write a screenplay about it. Less as a calling card and more as therapy. And Michael Weber was there as his friend to help him through that time–and to help him write what would become their first produced screenplay, (500) Days of Summer.
“The truth is this: the script wasn’t written to be made. It was barely written to be read. We wrote this thing because I was downhearted and needed somewhere to channel my exasperation with relationships. Months later, when I finally decided to let it be seen, I expected to be mocked, jeered, taken by the shoulders and violently shook while someone screamed ‘snap out of it, man’ in my face. I never thought people would relate to it. I never thought someone would buy it, and I certainly never thought it would be filmed. so, yeah, I’m pretty darn surprised.
Interview with A.D. Amorsi
“At the time I was trying to be there for him as a friend, first and foremost, but then soon after I was like, ‘You know, we should be writing that down. I think that’s happened to a lot of people.’ It’s interesting for me in that I feel like I felt for him, what he was going through at the time and have since personally gone through some of that afterwards. So my relationship to it has changed in that way which has been interesting. We always like when people come up to us and they can sort of relate to it or some girl messed them up. We feel for them but it’s also kind of awesome because we know that they’re going to get it.”
Interview with Dave Gonzales
You may not write a hit song or an award-winning screenplay if you write about your big break-up…but it doesn’t hurt to try. I think the message at the end of the movie (500) Days of Summer is these things have a way of working themselves out in time. That’s certainly true in my case. Three months after my big college break-up I met the women who would become my wife.
But love relationships in general are ripe for screenwriters because they have built-in conflict. Perhaps down the road I’ll look at great break-up scenes. That scene between Tom Hanks and Helen Hunt near the end of Cast Away jumps to mind. What are some of your favorite movie break-up scenes?