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Posts Tagged ‘Nick Schenk’

“There was absolutely no pressure on me because I was just sitting in Minnesota writing for my own edification.”
Diablo Cody on writing Juno

Happy 35th birthday Diablo Cody.

If you’re fairly new to this blog you may not know that a huge impetus for starting this blog back in 2008 was reading and hearing interviews with a then unknown Cody just as her first film Juno hit the theaters.

“The internet is a miraculous things. Just share as much as you can, self-publish, blog, podcast whatever you need to do. Just make sure you are not withholding your gifts from the world. Because you have so many opportunities now….We’re in a new frontier.”
Diablo Cody

Knowing that she went to school in Iowa and wrote Juno while living in Minneapolis and said various versions of the above quote propelled me to launch this blog on January 22, 2008 after I saw Juno in a theater in Cedar Falls, Iowa. That year she walked away with an Oscar in Hollywood for her script and I walked away with a Regional Emmy (Advanced Media) in Minneapolis for my blog.

I thought of Cody this week when I watched a video of screenwriter Shane Black (Lethal Weapon) and heard this comment:

“If you want to write or direct you kinda have to go to Los Angeles, I don’t really know anybody who’s done it from here.”
Shane Black giving a talk to students in Minneapolis

Now I love this whole Shane Black revival going on and think I’ll pull some quotes from him next week. But what’s ironic about that quote is it appears that talk was given around 2005 after his released of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. (The video was just uploaded last month but there is no mention of Iron Man 3.) Juno was released in 2007, meaning that around the time Black was making his comment Cody was sitting at a Starbucks in Crystal, Minnesota writing her first script.

A script that would not only get sold, get produced, make $230 million at the box office, but bring her an Oscar.

“I don’t know when I’ve heard a standing ovation so long, loud and warm.”
Roger Ebert writing about Juno after its screening at the 2007 Toronto Film Festival

Diablo Cody is a Cinderella screenwriting story if there ever was one. And, yes, she did move to Los Angeles and just finished directing her first feature Paradise. But I think it’s important to point out that she did it after establishing herself as a writer. As I’ve pointed out before, she had been writing poems, short stories and such everyday since she was 12, got her degree in Media Studies at the University of Iowa, started a blog, wrote for City Pages, and had a book published. That Oscar Award was earned on the back of 15 years worth of writing.

And Minneapolis wasn’t a one shot wonder. The next year Nick Schenk had a script he wrote in a bar called Gran Torino become Clint Eastwood’s biggest box office success. Also, in 2005, screenwriter Bill True from Minneapolis had his first feature produced.) All of this led Ken Levine to (a little tongue in cheek) write in 2008:

“Aspiring screenwriters always ask what’s the best way to break into the Hollywood? I say move to Minnesota.”
Writer Ken Levine (Frasier, MASH, Cheers)
How to sell a screenplay by drinking in a bar

So there were a few changes between 2005 and 2008. And now 2005 seems like a 100 years ago. Steven Spielberg made a prediction this week that the movie industry was ready for an ‘“implosion.” Who knows what that all means? But this blog celebrates not only where various writers come from, but what filmmakers around the world are doing today in a fast changing business. If the film business as we know it does implode, something else will rise up out of that rubble. (Just like Tony Stark and Shane Black both did in Iron Man 3.)

“I think that the Internet is going to effect the most profound change on the entertainment industries combined. And we’re all gonna be tuning into the most popular Internet show in the world, which will be coming from some place in Des Moines. We’re all gonna be on the Internet trying to find an audience.”
(Steven Spielberg in interview with Katie Couric on the NBC Today Show in 1999/ From the post Screenwriting Outside L.A. 101)

My guess is ten years from now there will still be a place called Hollywood that makes movies. Big movies. But there will also be a lot more people following the likes of Jeff Nichols in Austin, Tyler Perry in Atlanta, Billy Corben in Miami, and Edward Burns in New York—finding their own niche markets and telling stories they want to tell.

And ten years from now Shane Black and Diablo Cody will still be telling stories. They are proven talent and both proven resilient. (Both have received their share of criticism.) Think of Black as Iron Man and Cody as the Woman of Steel.

Related Posts:

Screenwriting’s Biggest Flirt
Beatles, Cody & 10,000 Hours
Screenwriting Quote #10 (Nick Schenk)
Juno Has Another Baby (Emmy)
Screenwriting Quote #65 (Shane Black)

Scott W. Smith

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Today I made a subtle change in the subtitle of Screenwriting from Iowa. The change came out of working on a potential panel talk for the 2011 South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference. Figuring that the title Screenwriting from Iowa…or Wherever You Live Outside L.A. might not be attractive to potential voters since many would be coming from L.A. I realized that could be true of blog readers as well. (I’ve always said an unlikely place for screenwriters to be is not only West Des Moines, but West Covina in L.A. County.)

So as of today the title of this blog is now Screenwriting from Iowa…and Other Unlikely Places. Same name as the potential talk in Austin that you can help get selected for the SXSW Film Conference next March by voting for it at the SXSW online Panel Picker. Here is a description of the panel:

Every year there is a screenwriter like Diablo Cody who beats the odds by seemingly coming from nowhere to write a film like “Juno” that becomes a financial success and catapults the writer into a Hollywood career. How does this really happen? Is there a pattern? And is this lottery-like jackpot the only option for writers outside L.A.?

We take a sweeping look at how writers from all over the United States have brought a unique flavor to films of the past and how they will have even greater opportunities for films of the future. We’ll glance at some creative parallels of how in the past musicians—like Bob Dylan (Duluth) and Elvis Presley (Tupelo)— were able to rise up from small places to become international stars and how that translates to a new breed of writers who cling to a sense of place that brings a uniqueness to their work.

We’ll also address how the downturn in the economy has also helped open the door for writers today. How first time feature film writer Nick Schenk from Minneapolis took advantage of the changing face of America and wrote a script that Clint Eastwood made in Detroit because it not only fit the metaphor of the film, but because Michigan has one of the most aggressive tax incentives for filmmakers.

And lastly we’ll look at the changing face of the film business and how new filming and distribution channels will provide screenwriters opportunities to stay home if they choose. And just for the record, Diablo Cody did go to college in Iowa.

On the Interactive side I also have a panel up  for voting as well called In the Future, Everyone Will Be a Filmmaker. Here’s the description:

Andy Warhol’s most famous quote was, “In the Future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Warhol said that back in 1968 and when he died in 1987 we didn’t have any solid clues on how this would be possible. But these days things are looking a little clearer. In the future, everyone will be a filmmaker. And the future is here.

I always thought that the future would look like the Jetsons with people flying around in space mobiles, now I know it’s more likely to be people with cell phones that can shoot, edit, and upload videos to You Tube.

Back in ancient times, around the year 2000 (five years before You Tube) I began to look for a new job in production. It had been several years since I had looked for a job, and though I was a film school grad with many years of production experience behind me,  I was surprised at the kind of jobs that were being advertised. They generally were in line with: “We’re looking for a producer/director/camera person who can edit on AVID/FCP, knows their way around Photoshop & After Effects, web compression, and ideally can speak Spanish—and perform open heart surgery as needed. Who does all of that I thought.”

In school I was taught, “You don’t want to be a jack-of-all and a master-of-none.” I can throw those notes away. The creative landscape today is full of multi-taskers, so the big question is what skills transfer and what tools are out there to help non-filmmakers begin to think and work like a filmmaker?

Voting ends August 27, 2010 and I appreciate those of you who take the time to vote for one of both of these panels.

Scott W. Smith


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“The fact is, when I wrote Juno—and I think this is part of its charm and appeal—I didn’t know how to write a movie.”
Diablo Cody

Today marks the two and a half-year anniversary of starting this blog— Screenwriting from Iowa. A blog that got its start after seeing the movie Juno and reading the articles about screenwriter and University of Iowa grad Diablo Cody who jump started her career by blogging. Two and a half years ago blogging was still pretty much a mystery to the masses. Just put your stuff out there and see what happens was Cody’s encouragement to anyone who would listen.

She walked away with an Oscar in 2008 and later that year I won a Regional Emmy in Advanced Media for Screenwriting from Iowa. (Juno Has Another Baby.) It was all the sweeter that I received the Emmy in Minneapolis where Cody happened to write Juno.

My goal with this blog from the start has been to encourage and inspire writers and filmmakers around the country to hone their craft as they pursue writing for Hollywood, ultra low-budget filmmaking, or something in between. Along the way I’ve also shown writers in Los Angeles who write stories that take place far from the shadow of the Hollywood sign. (Usually, because they came from outside L.A. originally, or they are adapting a novelist who set a story in their neck of the woods.)

Cody was not the first writer outside L.A. to breakthrough, nor will she be the last. But I believe she is the poster child for screenwriters originally from outside L.A. who desire to write something so original that it leap frog’s the zillions of other more experienced screenwriters. Really, how many screenwriters does the public know by name?

That doesn’t mean that she is loved and adored by everyone. I’m sure she even understands some of the Cody backlash, because how many people walk away with an Oscar on a first script that they were just flirting around writing?

“I think I went into (writing Juno) as an experiment; I didn’t really have a whole lot invested in it. It was more something I just wanted to try. I had no idea throughout the whole process that this would ever wind up being a produced screenplay or that this would ever end up being cast with these amazing actors. There was absolutely no pressure on me because I was just sitting in Minnesota writing for my own edification. So I think that was freeing in a lot of ways.”
Diablo Cody
Filmmaker magazine Fall 2007

That has to make all of those screenwriting gurus cringe. And tick off a few writers who have been at it five, 10, 20 years. And if that doesn’t, this will:

“I guess ignorance is bliss is the best way of putting it. [laughs] The only thing I did was I went to Barnes & Noble and bought the shooting scripts for a couple of movies that I liked so I could see how they looked on the page and that gave me a little structural guidance. but that was all I did. “
Diablo Cody
Filmmaker magazine Fall 2007

But what about all those screenwriting classes and workshops you’re supposed to take and all those books on screenwriting you’re supposed to read, on top of the years of writing screenplays? Nah, remember Cody was just flirting with screenwriting. Juno was her first attempt and she cranked it out in six weeks at a Starbucks inside a Target store in the Minneapolis suburb of Crystal. Was it a flawless, script? Perfectly tuned like the screenwriting gurus tell you it has to be? Not according to Cody.

“When we sent that screenplay out it was riddled with typos and formatting errors because I had no idea what I was doing. [laughs] My manager was so stunned that I had turned out something vaguely coherent that he just said, ‘Let’s just throw it out there and see if anybody likes it.’ We didn’t really obsess; I think it was just a case of expectations being so low that there was not a lot of polishing and spit-shinning going on.”
Diablo Cody
Filmmaker magazine Fall 2007

It would be easy to just say Cody got lucky. That would be a mistake. How did she get a manager in the first place? Because her manager-to-be (Mason Novick) came across her blog and saw talent and originality. Perhaps a freshness that’s not easy to find in L.A. when everyone is going to the same screenwriting workshops, reading the same screenwriting books, going to the same screenwriting expos, and hanging out at the same L.A. restaurants or sitting on the same L.A. freeway.

Thanks in part to the plethora of new books and seminars on screenwriting, a new phenomenon is taking over Hollywood: Major scripts are skillfully, seductively shaped, yet they are soulless. They tend to be shiny but superficial.”
Richard Walter
UCLA Screenwriting Professor

Part of what sets Cody apart is, to use Colin Covert’s phrase, she is “scary-smart.” She had 12 years of Catholic school, was raised in the Chicago suburb of Lemont, and has a Bachelor’s degree in Media Studies from the University of Iowa. While not in the famed Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate program, that was part of what attracted her to Iowa. While she had never written a screenplay before Juno, she thought of herself as a writer and had been writing on a regular basis (poems, short stories, etc.) for 15 years before she turned her hand to screenwriting. (Beatles, Cody, King & 10,000 Hours)

And I love the fact that not three miles from where Cody wrote Juno is a Minneapolis bar called Grumpy’s where screenwriter Nick Schenk wrote much of Gran Torino that in 2009 would become Clint Eastwood’s highest grossing film that he’s ever starred in. (Screenwriting Postcard from Minneapolis.) If Cody and Schenk don’t inspire you nothing will.

“Aspiring screenwriters always ask what’s the best way to break into the Hollywood? I say move to Minnesota.”
Writer Ken Levine (Frasier, MASH, Cheers)
How to sell a screenplay by drinking in a bar

Thanks again to Ms. Cody for the nudge to jump into the blogging world. And thanks to everyone for stopping by to read what I post, because without readers it would be hard to have written the 600+ posts I’ve written so far.

P.S. In yesterday’s post I mentioned that I’d explain why Clark Gable would be attracted to Diablo Cody and here’s my reasoning. A Time magazine article said, “Gable liked his women to be both sacred and profane.” It doesn’t take much reading about Cody to realize she is both scared and profane. While the profane aspects get more press, Cody’s sacred side is more fascinating to me. And it certainly doesn’t hurt her originality.

Read her 2005 post Finding My Religion to see a theological side to Cody that probably can only be matched in Hollywood by the Calvinist-raised Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver). One thing Cody says she’s never flirted with is atheism. Here’s a sample of her pre-Juno writing;

“I’ve had my share of core-rattling Touched By an Angel moments–brief instances in which God seemed to be standing right beside me, tousling my overprocessed hair like a kind scoutmaster–but most of the spiritual epiphanies I’ve had in my life were far earthier, borne of personal reflection, diverging beliefs, and the admission that I can’t ever fully grasp the sacred.”

Related Post: The Juno-Iowa Connection
Juno Vs. Walt
The Oscars Minnesota Style
The Fox, the Farm, & the Fempire
Life Beyond L.A. (The first blog on January 22, 2008)

Update June 23, 2010: Here is what Diablo Cody (@diablocody) wrote on Twitter: “@scottwsmith_com Thank you for writing that kind and lovely piece. I truly appreciate it.” Yeah, that’s a good way to start your day.

Scott W. Smith

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Long before Diablo Cody wrote Juno in a Starbucks in a Minneapolis suburb, and before Nick Schenk wrote Gran Torino at Gumpy’s Bar in Minneapolis, another screenwriter from Minnesota had jumped into the scene with his first script — Grumpy Old Men.

Screenwriter Mark Steven Johnson is another example of talent coming from a small town in the Midwest. He was born in 1964 in Hasting, Minnesota which is just outside the metropolitan Minneapolis area. He went to school for a year at Winona State University which is located in the southeast Minnesota town of Winona. 

Johnson transferred to Cal State Long Beach and then got his break while working as a secretary in the entertainment industry. He was 25 years old when he sold Grumpy Old Men. The film got made in 1993 with an terrific cast that included Jack Lemmon. Walter Matthau, Ann-Margret, Burgress Meredith, Daryl Hannah, Kevin Pollack, Ossie Davis and Buck Henry. Not a bad line-up for your debut film.

The opening shot of Grumpy Old Men is of the train station at Wabasha which is a small town on the Mississippi River between Hastings (where Johnson was born) and Winona where he went to school. Though they shot the film in many locations in Minnesota, I’m not even sure they actually shot any footage any in Wabasha. But the story takes place in Wabasha. (And the movie plays everyday at Slippery’s Bar in Wabasha.) 

I’ve read that Johnson based the story on his grandfather who lived in Wabasha. And I doubt it was the first film that featured ice fishing, but it’s probably the most popular film to feature ice fishing. The film had a slow start at the box office but gained a solid following and ended up making $77 million and opened the door for the sequel which came out in 1995 and made $71 million.

No one would accuse Grumpy Old Men of being high concept. A couple old men in a film that would have to be shot in Minnesota during wintertime probably didn’t get studios excited or make film financiers jump up and down. More than one film school screenwriter teacher would probably have read the script and said, “Nice try, now work on something more commercial. Something for a younger audience that has a chance to actually get made.”

But Johnson wrote the script and it eventually made it’s way into the right hands, got made, and found an audience. And it launched Johnson’s screenwriting and directing career to boot.

 

Scott W. Smith

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Grumpys

“O muses, o high genius, now assist me!”
The Inferno
Dante

Stephen King says his muse is a working class guy down in the basement chomping on a cigar. I think his muse is related to screenwriter Nick Schenk’s. When his day job was over, Schenk wrote much of Gran Torino while sitting at Grumpy’s Bar in northeast Minneapolis. He told Colin Covert of Star Tribune, “Loading trucks every day, your back was tired but your mind was fresh…So I’d just roll into Grumpy’s, where my friend was the bartender, and write the stuff longhand on a pad of paper.”

I stopped in Grumpy’s Bar  yesterday late afternoon and was told that Schenk is considered family, though he doesn’t come in as much since the success of the movie Gran Torino based on his screenplay. It’s opened up writing gigs for him in L.A. where he now lives.

Grumpy’s is the kind of place that you could see Clint Eastwood’s character Walt Kowalski walking into and ordering a Pabst Blue Ribbon. If you’re looking for original stories and original characters look for them in the places you work and hangout. (Tennessee Williams based Stanley Kowalski on a fellow he worked with in a factory in St. Louis. Kowlaski…coincidence?) According to the owner of Grumpy’s, Schenk is a talented writer who has been at it a long time, but he also has a great ear for dialogue. And much of Eastwood’s character flowed from the banter that was kicked around that corner bar.

Though they shot Gran Torino in Michigan (thanks to their film incentives) the area around Grumpy’s is very similar to Walt’s neighborhood in the movie. The only beef with the movie from the bartender I talked to at Grumpy’s is that they didn’t shoot the film in Minneapolis.

Since I’ve written about Diablo Cody writing much of Juno in a Target in the north suburbs of Minneapolis I thought you’d be interested in knowing that these two locations are probably less than 3 miles form each other. That’s around $300 million dollars of box office success written from the same basic area far from L.A. and far from that perfect little cabin in the woods everyone dreams about writing the perfect novel or screenplay.

I don’t know if Schenk and Cody have crossed paths in L.A., but I’d like to at least think they’ve met back in Minneapolis at that kitschy Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge and celebrated their unusual journeys with a Tiki drink.

If you haven’t hired a working class muse maybe you should give one a call.

Related post: Juno vs. Walt.

words & photo copyright  Scott. W. Smith

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It’s not every day when you get the chance to rewrite a major Hollywood screenwriter — so I’ll try to tread lightly. Recently screenwriter John August posted an impromptu Q&A video on his website. Here’s one of his exchanges:

“Stranger than Fiction writes in to ask, ‘As a married mother of three whose husband is very established and has an immovable career in the middle of nowhere I have no chance of ever move to Cali –ever, ever ever.  Am I wasting all my spare time writing? Do I ever have a prayer of having a screenwriting career from –dare I say –Utah?’ 

Screenwriting is probably not your best bet. Honestly, it’s very hard to have a career from Utah because so much of the job of screenwriting isn’t just the pushing 12-point Courier font around on the page.  It’s all of the meetings and all of the dealings with people who are making films. That’s really rough to do from Utah. Fiction is a much better choice and people can write books anywhere. You can write the next Twilight from Utah.  So I’d say look for some other form of writing you like because it’s going to work a lot better for you in Utah.”

Here is my rewrite for John (written from John’s perspective);

Utah, huh? That’s a great state full of natural beauty like Arches National Park.  They have the wonderful Utah Shakespeare Festival in St. George complete with a close replica of the Globe Theatre (where Shakespeare’s play were originally performed). And of course, there is that place up in the mountains where Robert Redford established that little film festival called Sundance where every year in the middle of winter they somehow attract some of Hollywood’s biggest names. (That would be a good place to bump into film people in Utah.)

You didn’t exactly say where in the middle-of-nowhere Utah you were from but let me say that as a Hollywood A-List screenwriter myself that having a screenwriting career is hard even if you live in Los Angeles. Even though I did my undergraduate work at that fine school in Iowa, Drake University, and got an MFA from USC film school and have written hit movies such as Big Fish, Charlie’s Angels; Full Throttle and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (and some other hits I’ve been an uncredited writer on) I still find it a difficult business.

Heck, I stuck my neck out a couple years ago and wrote and directed The Nines which only made $63,000. at the box office. (Yes, $63,000, not $63 million.) So it’s tough for anyone to have a Hollywood career, not to mention being a mom stuck in Utah. Having a screenwriting career in Hollywood is on par with playing basketball in the NBA. The list is actually pretty small.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t pursue screenwriting. If that’s your passion, then by all means write away. But pursuing a Hollywood screenwriting career may not be the best fit for you.  There are other options. Since your husband is “very established” as you mentioned perhaps you two can put up the money to have one of your screenplays made into a film. Perhaps start with a short film.

Let me tell you about a young fellow and his wife who did just that a few years ago. First the young man shot a short film in two days while a student at BYU in Utah. That nine -minute 16mm black and white film (Peluca) was made for $500. and shown at Sundance in 2003 and was so well received that it helped him raise $400,000. to make a feature. The young man and his wife wrote the feature script and hired some local actors and shot most of the film in Preston, Idaho — a middle-of-nowhere town on the Idaho-Utah border.

That little 97-minute film actually made it to the 2004 Sundance Film Festival where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Award.  (That alone made it a wild success.) But it found a distributor and not only got released but found an audience to the tune of $46 million dollars. You may have heard of the film that Jered & Jerusha Hess made — Napoleon Dynamite.

Let me also point you to a website that I think is very helpful to writers living outside L.A. –Screenwriting from Iowa. The guy who writes it lives in the middle-of-nowhere Iowa but he seems pretty plugged in. He actually posts everyday (apparently there is no traffic in Iowa) and some of it you may find inspirational like this famous screenwriter quote from a post called Screenwriting & the Little Fat Girl from Ohio

 “If you write a script anywhere and send it to an agent in Chicago or Detroit or Cleveland or wherever…and if that agent sends it to an agent in Hollywood who loves it…you can sell your script. You don’t need to have any connections, you don’t need to have an agent, you don’t need to live in L.A. All you have to do is send your finished script to an agent anywhere. That agent will know another agent in Hollywood and you’ll be in business.”
                                                                               Joe Eszterhas

Best wishes in your writing, Stranger than Fiction.

Lots of Big Love — John

* Back to me as Scott W. Smith*

In closing, let me say that re-writing a Hollywood screenwriter is not as exciting as it sounds and the pay is terrible. But I hope this answer finds its way to Stranger than Fiction in Utah. And that it is helpful. John’s probably correct that to have a lasting career in Hollywood it’s best to live in L.A., but it’s important to also point out that in recent years some Minneapolis screenwriters have launched careers while living and writing scripts in the Twin Cities. And both films each made over $100 million at the box office. So Diablo Cody (Juno) and Nick Schenk & Dave Johannson (Gran Torino) prove a career can at least be started outside L.A. 

And John is also correct that you can write novels from anywhere and when I last heard there were over 500,000 book titles published last year. As opposed to what, maybe 200 Hollywood films? Stay in Utah (or wherever you live outside L.A.), enjoy your family, and keep writing. But Don’t Waste Your Life just writing screenplays.

Make that little $500. film because you never know where it will lead you.

 

Scott W. Smith

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“Aspiring screenwriters always ask what’s the best way to break into the Hollywood? I say move to Minnesota.”
                                    Ken Levine 
                                    Emmy-winning TV writer (Frasier, MASH, Cheers)
                                    How to Sell a screenplay by drinking in a bar 

 

Friday I had a meeting in Minneapolis and it’s true there are things the big city has that we don’t have here in Cedar Falls…traffic, difficulty finding a parking spot, and two kids were shot standing on a street corner. Thankfully, the shooting injuries were not life-threatening. The shooting took place near a park where 30 kids were playing. Those kinds of incidents always remind me of Danny Glover’s line in the movie Grand Canyon, “That’s not the way the world is supposed to be.” 

While also in the Twin Cities I noticed that Gran Torino (written by Minnesotan Nick Schenkwas still in the theaters which means it’s been a long run for the movie that came out in December. So I looked it up and saw that it has made $142 million (domestic) and then I compared it to Juno which I found out made a total of $143 million (domestic) last year which means Gran Torino starring Clint Eastwood as Walt Kowalski will overtake Juno this weekend or next. Though when you include the worldwide gross, Juno still has a commanding $52 million lead.

How does  Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody  match-up against Schenk? First she’s a Chicago Bear and he’s a Minnesota Viking fan so he has a slight edge there. Schenk’s also got a few pounds on her, and he did write the highest grossing movie in Eastwood’s over four decade Hollywood career. But she’s more famous than some movie stars, is working with Steven Spielberg, and has an Oscar. So for now she has the upper hand. Schenk has moved to L.A. but when recently asked by Steve March how Hollywood had he gone Schenk responded:

“Uh, none. I don’t know anybody. My friend called me up the other day and  asked me if my life is like Entourage now. And I’m sittin’ there waiting for my Tomestone pizza to get done in my pizza oven that I dragged from Minnesota–you know, the kind that they have in the bars?”

Somehow, since both writers aren’t that far removed from quitting their day jobs (or night jobs) back in the Minneapolis area I don’t think either are complaining. (And though Schenk’s writing partner—Dave Johannson— on the story for Gran Torino still has his day job in Minnesota selling gas furnaces, he’s probably not complaining either since they sell a lot of furnaces up this way and he probably makes more than the average WGA screenwriter. And dropping you had part in an Eastwood movie has to help sales.)

Still it’s pretty amazing that two screenwriters have emerged from the same area in fly-over county and have had such box-office and critical success. 

Update: It’s official at 8:19 PM I checked with boxofficemojo.com and Gran Torino has passed Juno at the domestic box office this weekend with a total of  143,824,000 verses Juno’s $143,495,265. Congrats to Schenk, Johannson and Eastwood.

 

Related post: Q & A with Movie Critic Colin Covert
                   Screenwriting Quote of the Day # 10 (Colin Covert)
                   Screenwriting Quote of the Day #1 (Diablo Cody)
                   The Oscars Minnesota-Style

Scott W. Smith

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