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Posts Tagged ‘Gladiator’

Most screenwriters don’t jump onto the world stage like Diablo Cody who won an Oscar for the first screenplay she ever wrote. More often than not they follow a 20 year journey like screenwriter John Logan who was 40 years old when he received an Oscar nominated for his part in writing Gladiator. 

Logan was born in 1961 and graduated in 1983 from Northwestern in Chicago. He started out with a desire to be an actor but fell in love writing when he took a playwriting class.  After Logan finished college, according to David S. Cohn “He stayed in Chicago, writing plays by night and working at Northwestern Law Library by day. Some fourteen years later he was solidly established in Chicago theater.”

His plays including “Never the Sinner” and “Hauptmann” won awards and he also acted on occasion. In 1996 he had his first TV movie produced (Tornado) and in 1999 approaching 40 years old he had his first feature film produced (Bats). A major break through occurred when Oliver Stone optioned his script Any Given Sunday in which Logan eventually earned a story credit and a lesson or two in screenwriting from Stone. 

From then on he left the tornados and bats behind and was in the big time.  In 2000 he received a shared screenwriting credit on Gladiator, in 2002 Star Trek; Nemesis,  in 2003 The Last Samurai, 2004 Aviator, and in 2007 Sweeney Todd.

“My learning curve on writing movies—which, believe me, is still going on, under the tutelage of people like Martin Scorsese—(has involved) the amazing slapping-the-head realization that Leo DiCaprio’s eyes communicate more than a paragraph I have written. Unlike writing for the stage, which is declamatory and presentational for an audience, in writing for a movie you’re really trying to bring the audience in to see, to experience the world through a character’s eyes. For me it’s always stunning to watch actors communicate so silently with one another, in a way that’s as powerful as the greatest line of dialogue I could possibly imagine writing.”
                                                        John Logan
                                                        Quoted in Screen Plays by David S. Cohen

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I think it’s going to turn into Daivd S. Cohen week as I pull another quote from his book Screen Plays. This one from screenwriter David Franzoni. Before Franzoni won an Oscar for his role in producing Gladiator or worked with Spielberg on Amistad he was a struggling writer like everyone else. He grew up in Vermont and attended the University of Vermont where he studied geology and paleontology. 

By the time he turned his full attention to screenwriting he was in his early 20s. It would take him five years before he would break into the business with a script sale and another 10 years before he saw his first screen credit. By the time that film (Jumpin’ Jack Flash) was released Frazoni was 39 years old. The Oscar would take another 15 years. It’s a process. (For more on the process read the post on Malcolm Galdwell’s chapter The 10,000 Hour Rule from his book Outliers.)

“I remember the day I broke through. I had a meeting with Sissy Spacek and I came out and I’ve got a flat tire. And my spare’s flat. I’ve got twenty-six bucks. I take the spare and roll it down the street. For twelve bucks they patch it for me and I roll it back. I get home. I don’t have an agent. I have a girl at CAA who’s representing me on the side. I get home and there’s a message. ‘Sissy wants to hire you, and we sold the spec script.’ “
                                                       David Franzoni
                                                       Quoted in Screen Plays by David S. Cohen
                                                       page 21

 

Scott W. Smith

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