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Archive for the ‘Screenwriting Quotes’ Category

“I have to love my characters before I can write them – no matter how unlikeable they may appear to be. The first thing I do on any project I write is I put pictures of all the characters on the walls of my office (or wherever I am working.) In this case the film [Saving Mr. Banks] was based on real life events so pictures of Walt, PLT, the Shermans were easy to find. If it’s a fictional character like Ralph I’ll find a picture of someone I imagine he looks like. I will also surround myself with anything else that is useful so… pictures of the Disney lot, as it was, exteriors and interiors of PLT’s house. I want to inhabit the world I am creating from the inside rather than as an onlooker. For me that’s the best way to crawl into the people of the piece and feel like I am there with them. I hope that it can then become an encompassing experience for the reader too. Everything, for me, starts and ends with character; I am definitely not a plot driven writer.”
Screenwriter Kelly Marcel (Terra Nova, Fifty Shades of Grey)
Scriptshadow interview 

Related Posts:
Walt Disney & Shades of Glass
Scriptshadow Secrets

Scott W. Smith

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“I personally get up at four, because I’ve found the hush of silence and darkness very conducive to me writing. The phone’s not ringing, there are no distractions, it’s just me and the whimsical characters moving about. So I start very early. I write until I’m tired and then I stop. And if I’m writing a first draft it’s total immersion, I don’t do anything else and I can work for 12 hours at a stretch, take a break and go back to work because my methodology is ‘Always do the research first, as much as it takes’… No first draft has ever taken me more than three weeks, but then I go back and just work and work forever, and then when I think it’s in a position that’s not entirely embarrassing or will end my career, I’ll give it to whoever my key collaborators are.”
Screenwriter John Logan (Gladiator, Hugo, Skyfall)
BAFTA 2011 Interview

Related posts:
Screenwriting Quote #167 (John Logan)
The Breakfast Club for Writers
Sidney Sheldon’s Early Start
Screenwriting Quote #82 (John Logan)
The Secret to Being a Successful Screenwriter (Seriously)

Related Blogs: The 3 a.m. Screenwriter

Scott W. Smith

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“I feel like when you write, you have to have a personal core to a story if you have any hope of it translating to an audience. There are certain emotions you have throughout your life that are palpable, you can feel them; they hurt. Every film I’ve made, I can point to one of those emotions, and for this one (Mud) it was going to be heartbreak. I can create all these plot lines, but they have to service that…By the time you get to the end of [the film], that thematic idea has just seeped into the story. You haven’t attacked it head on; you’ve been able to let your audience absorb it into their bloodstream.”
Writer/Director Jeff Nichols (Mud)
The Script Lab article by Meredith Alloway

Related Posts:
Emotional Transportation Biz (Tip #68)
Theme = What Your Movie is Really About
Michael Arndt on Theme
Writing from Theme
Robert McKee vs. Richard Walter (Opposite views on “personal” stories?)
Emotional Screenwriting (Tip #53)

Scott W. Smith

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I was in Minneapolis Sunday and saw the debut of the documentary  Making Light In Terezin at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival. It was produced and directed by Richard Krevolin who wrote the book Screenwriting from the Soul. I’ll write about his film tomorrow, but here’s a quote of his for today:

“All characters are wounded souls, and the stories we tell are merely an acting out of the healing process. They are the closing of open wounds, the scabbing-over process.”
Richard Krevolin
Screenwriting from the Soul

P.S. Making Light In Terezin tells another chapter of Jewish people during World War II. Though it’s about people who use humor and entertainment to help them survive —it’s still a film about wounded souls.

Scott W. Smith

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“Twenty years ago screenwriter Larry Marcus (“The Stuntman”) told me that if you have a great script it may take a week, a year, or even ten years, but if you’ve written something undeniably fantastic, someone will find it. Why? Because there simply aren’t that many great scripts out there. It’s straight-up supply and demand….This is the real key for any aspiring writer — ‘It only takes one buyer’. That’s what my first agent told me, and it’s just as true today. You can hear 1000 ‘No’s’, have a million doors slammed in your face, but just one simple ‘Yes’ validates everything. As a writer, I’ve always found strength and inspiration in that. You don’t have to conquer Hollywood, you just need to find that one buyer out there who gets it.”
Screenwriter John Jarrell (Romeo Must Die)
ScriptShadow Interview

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“Write something unique that showcases your voice. Readers read so much – at times four or five scripts a day. So many of those scripts become one blob in your head – a singular voice. It’s the scripts that really strive to do something unique, whether it works or whether it doesn’t, that stick with you. As long as you’re writing something that is representative of your voice and your experience, I think you can’t go wrong.”
Justin Kremer (Whose script McCarthy in 2012 made The Black List)
Go Into The Story interview with Scott Myers

Related Posts:
Meet Your First Audience (Tip #36)
Finding Your Voice
Four Year Anniversary (features Diablo Cody quote: “Here’s my unsolicited advice to any aspiring screenwriters who might be reading this: Don’t ever agonize about the hordes of other writers who are ostensibly your competition.  No one else is capable of doing what you do.”)

Scott W. Smith

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“I knew that I wanted to make movies but I kinda didn’t know what you do.”
Chris Terrio (Talking about after graduating from college)

Screenwriter Chris Terrio is now Oscar-winning screenwriter Chris Terrio. His script for Argo was not only a winner for him but the movie also took home the Oscar for best film.

His career  path took a few years—heck, even his Argo script which everyone loved took five years to get made. But the path Terrio took is also a familiar one; born in New York City, private Catholic schools, undergraduate work at Harvard, a year graudate study in England, MFA at USC,  Sundance, Oscar-winner. But those impressive credentials gloss over the lean years and the dedication to writing of the now relatively wealthy and well-known 36-year-old screenwriter.

“When you’re not in the [WGA] you’re just grateful for anything that’ll you give you a month of rent or a couple months of rent. My first couple of jobs were New York independent things. And for really smart interesting producers trying to do smart interesting things. But of course there wasn’t a lot of money for an untested writer. So if somebody had read some things you’d written, or a play you’d written, or a script you’d written on spec then sometimes you’d get paid 5,000 bucks, if you’re lucky, on a good day maybe 10,000 bucks. Or just here’s lunch if you’ll let me be the guy to take your screenplay around, and you’re grateful for that. One of the things I’m not sure you’re always prepared for is the  loneliness of it. You really have to get to a mental place where every single day you can be prepared to be alone for long periods of time.
Chris Terrio
December 2012 interview with David Poland on The DP/30 Channel

P.S. For what it’s worth, the Harvard and USC education costs about $400,000. in today’s dollars. The Catholic schools Terrio attended in Staten Island are probably worth another $50,000—100,000. It’s often hard to pay back any college loan, much less when you’re making $5,000 or $10,000 on an occational script sale. (In fact, on the above interview Terrio says he got himself into “crippling, crippling debt which I literally paid off two months ago.”) Nobody’s sugar-coating things here. A friend of my is producing a documentary called Broken, Busted, & Disgusted about the true cost of a college education. On their website they say 2/3 of college graduates have loan debts, averaging $25,000. It’s an important topic that I’ll write more about more in detail later. You can also learn more about the film on their Facebook page.

Related post:

How Much Do Screenwriters Make? (Odds are before the six or seven-figure check arrives, the five-figure check will come.)
How to Be a Successful Screenwriter (Seriously)
How to Become a Successful Screenwriter (Tip #42)
Beatles, Cody, King, and 10,000 Hours

Scott W. Smith

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“A screenwriter friend of mine said your number one goal is to get to the end. So write it fast; don’t look back. If you have to have characters yak about something and you don’t have a solution, do it anyway and let it suck. Then go back over it in a couple of weeks, and you’ll be much clearer on what’s strong and what’s not strong and then attack the ones that are too verbose. At least you’ll have a laundry list of things the audience needs to know—but don’t hang up on finding the visual solution and not move forward on your screenplay.”
Oscar-winning writer/director Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille)
Interview with Peter N. Chumo II
creative screenwriting magazine, Novemeber/December 2004

Recap:
—Write it fast
—Don’t look back
—Let it suck
—Move forward

Scott W. Smith

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SIlverLinings

“Because I have a son who’s had some of these emotional situations I immediately related to [the novel Silver Linings Playbook] otherwise I never would have. And I said, what a wonderful story, and a wonderful world that is tragic, heartbreaking, emotional, and ultimately funny and uplifting….While I was waiting the five years to make it, I probably rewrote the script over 20 times, and I was able to plumb new depths of it in terms of calibrating the nature of the challenges the main character faces.
Silver Linings Playbook writer/director David O.Russell
Charlie Rose Interview 2012 & WGA,West interview by Rob Feld

Related Posts:
Broken Wings & Silver Linings
Coppola & Rewriting

Scott W. Smith

 

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As this blog Screenwriting from Iowa…and Other Unlikely Places enters into its sixth year this week here’s a fitting thought from the always informative blog Go Into the Story:

“Assuming you’re not a native Californian or a long-time transplant to L.A., you developed your writing voice elsewhere. Iowa, New Jersey, England, Norway, wherever. The sum of your life experiences and the very place in which you live now has helped to make you the writer you are, giving you your distinctive take on the world….Let me end with the question that is always on the mind of aspiring writers who live well outside Los Angeles: Do I have to move there to break into the business?

The answer is no. You can write a spec script anywhere. If it’s great, that will be your passport into the business. In fact, I have recently interviewed two 2012 Nicholl Fellow winners, one from Louisiana [Allan Durand], one from South Africa [Sean Robert Daniels]. They and many other writers I know live and work outside Los Angeles.

But if you do sell a spec, and even in anticipation of that chance, at least you should be envisioning the possibility of relocating. Because on the whole, the positives of living and writing in L.A. outweigh the negatives.”
Scott Myers
The Business of Screenwriting: Living and writing in L.A.

Check out the whole article, and if somehow Myers’ screenwriting blog is off your radar check it out—it’s a great one.

Related Posts:

Do You Have To Live In L.A. To Be A Screenwriter?
Why You Should Move to L.A.
Why You Shouldn’t Move to L.A.

Scott W. Smith

 

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