I was talking to John Irving the other day…
Posts Tagged ‘Oscars’
Posted in Screenwriters, screenwriting, Screenwriting Road Trips, tagged A Prayer for Owen Meany--(Simon Birch), Academy Awards, Ben Afflack & Matt Damon, Bobby Bowden, catharsis, Cedar Falls, Dan Gable, David Mamet, David Puttnam, Dickens., Eliot Spitzer, Florida State football coach, Forrest Gump, Gary Ross, Good Will, Hemingway, Hunting, Iowa Writers' Workshop, Jerry Maguire, John Irving, John Updike, Juno, Kurt Vonagunt, Laura Hillendrandt, Michael Caine, movies, Oscars, Powell's City of Books, Prairie Lights Bookstore, Sceeenwriting, Scott W. Smith, Seabiscuit, Tattered Book Cover, The Cider House Rules, The Hotel New Hampshire, The Verdict, The World According to Grap, Tobey Maguire, Tom Wolf, University of Iowa, wrestling, writing on March 14, 2008 | 3 Comments »
Posted in screenwriting, screenwriting tips, tagged Alfred Hitchcock, Francis Ford Coppola, Gone With the Wind, Iowa, Jim Jarmusch, Milton Glazer, Oscars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Rocky, Scott W. Smith, screenwriting, sitcoms, sports, story structure, Stranger than Paradise, Sylvester Stallone, The Criterion Collection, The Godfather, Toy Story, When Harry Met Sally, writing commercials, You Tube on March 10, 2008 | 9 Comments »
Since tip #3 focused on the one main person in your story, it makes sense to address the other numbers related to screenwriting. Numbers play a key part in every production from the slate that keeps track of takes to you keeping track of your mileage for expenses. Screenplays are not exempt from the numbers game.
When you were a child the chances are pretty good that somewhere along the way you used one of those paint by numbers kits. If the number was one, you were supposed to use blue, number two yellow, and so on. And when you finished painting in all the numbers you actually had a decent little painting—for a six year old.
That’s actually not a bad way to approach writing––no matter what your age. I know it sounds cold, calculated and superficial, but hang with me for a moment. When I first started writing I was confused about the numbers game. Advice I got in books and magazines seemed conflicting and confusing.
Screenwriting by numbers is simply basic story structure and demystifies the process. Think of it like playing or watching a sport. It helps if you know the rules of the game. What are the boundaries, how high is the net in basketball or tennis? How are points scored, how long is the game played?
It takes nothing away from your originality. It takes nothing away from the story you have a burning desire to tell. It does not diminish the status of a great athlete just because he shoots a basketball at the same ten-foot hoop everyone uses, it enhances it. The limitations show his greatness.
“Limitation stimulates the imagination.” — Milton Glazer
This is my favorite chapter to talk about because it’s like pulling back the veil on the main part of simplifying the screenwriting process. It’s easy to grasp and easy to follow, yet it’s a hangup for many writers because they miss it. If you don’t like the sports analogy think of it in terms of cooking or whatever field of expertise you have. As Clint Eastwood says in Dirty Harry, ”A man’s got to know his limitations.”
Part of knowing the limitations is knowing what form you are writing for. For instance how long can a short film be and still be eligible for an Oscar? According to the Academy “A short film is defined as a motion picture that is not more than 40 minutes in running time (including all credits).” The total run time of a 30 minute sitcom is 22 minutes. A video for You Tube cannot be longer than ten minutes. And to point out the obvious if you’re writing a 30 second commercial you have 30 seconds.
How long should a feature film script be? A coy response would be—as long as it needs to be. In the feature film world (especially for the new screenwriter) the real answer is most films fall between 90 and 120 pages.
You can rebel against that all you want (go ahead point out the exceptions) but in reality, at a page a minute, the majority of movies made fall between an hour and a half and two hours in length. Why fight that? There is great freedom there.
A mighty river is powerful only if it has banks to contain it. (Just to sneak in an Iowa reference here and remind you that the mighty Mississippi River flows along eastern Iowa. Part of the Third Coast.) Look at these great films from a variety of genres that fall within the 100-120 minute parameters:
Finding Nemo 100m.
Casablanca 102 m.
The African Queen 105m.
On the Waterfront 109m.
Sunset Blvd. 110m.
Citizen Kane 119m.
Raiders of the Lost Ark 115m.
Pretty Women 117m.
The Bourne Ultimatum 115m.
That’s a pretty good list of films, but what about those under 100 minutes? You’ll find more comedy and horror films here because if you can scare people or make them laugh for an hour and a half you’ve done your job. You’ll also find low budget films here because it’s simply cheaper to shoot a film closer to 90 minutes than one that’s two hours. Films with limited sets also are common in this time frame as well.
Annie Hall 94m.
When Harry Met Sally 95m.
Twelve Angry Men 95m.
Reservoir Dogs 99m.
Monsters, Inc 92m.
There are examples of films that are even a little shorter than 90 minutes. Generally, today these are limited to youth oriented films.
Toy Story 80m.
Stand by Me 89m.
The Gold Rush 82m.
High Noon 84m.
She’s Gotta Have It 84m.
Stranger than Paradise 89m. (By the way, I just saw yesterday that Jim Jarmusch’s film is now out on DVD as part of The Criterion Collection. Worth getting just to see a film done in master takes.)
Perhaps, you’re stubborn and you want to point out all the great films that are well over the two-hour mark. Let’s deal with them.
The Godfather 175m.
Dances with Wolves 181m.
Lord of the Rings (3) 210m.
Ben Hur 212m.
Gone with the Wind 222m.
Longer films tend to have a built-in audience which justifies the extra expense. In the case of these listed five were best selling books first and one was based on a well documented historic event. But even those fall between basically the 3 and 4 hour mark. A long limitation, but a limitation nonetheless.
It’s hard enough to get any film made much less one over two hours, so if you’re really interested in getting produced why not improve your odds by writing a 90 minute screenplay? Keep in mind that low budget producers are trying to keep cost down so less is more there. And in Hollywood there are readers who get paid by the scripts they review. Human nature says they’ll choose the 90-page script before the 150-page script.
Embrace the limitations.
90 Page Script
So let’s say you’re setting out to write a 90 page script. Now what?
1-3 page scenes
Here’s an interesting observation I’ve made simply from reading scripts and watching movies. Most scenes are between 1 and 3 pages in length. So if that averages out to 2 pages per scene and you have a 90 minute movie you have 45 scenes.
Do you see the freedom here? Most of you could stop reading this blog right now and write down 45 scenes from your childhood or odd things that have happened to you at work. I’m not saying you have a screenplay yet—but you may have an outline. 45 scenes. That’s doable, right? There’s nothing magical about 45 scenes, but it’s a good number to shoot for. I hope you’re beginning to see the freedom in writing by numbers.
When I first started writing I wondered how you kept track of all your characters. Believe it or not readers have the same problem in reading scripts. Which is why most screen plays only have four main characters. There’s just not room to develop characters beyond that.
1 Protagonist/ 1 Antagonist
Limit yourself to one protagonist and one antagonist.
As I’ve said before, when you write your script either your protagonist or antagonist should be in every scene. (Or have a really good reason why they’re not there.) Once I tuned into this I have watched movies with awe how some writers include the protagonist is in ever scene. It’s so easy when to go off on little tangents and side characters.
Lots of White Space
When you read a screenplay of your favorite movie the chances are good that there will be a lot of white on the page. Meaning that top screenwriters write sparingly. You generally don’t find big chucks of scene descriptions and thick lines of dialogue.
The Law of 3
I’ve read many a great scripts that basically applied what I call the law of three. As you watch movies from now on I think you’ll see the truth here.
3 Lines or Less of Dialogue
Dialogue: Most lines of dialogue are three lines or less.
3 Characters (or less) Per Scene
“It’s difficult to have a lot of characters.”– Francis Ford Coppola
Most scenes involve three characters or less. There may be other characters around but the main conversation is limited to three characters. The main reason behind this is I think it is hard to write—and hard to follow—more than three characters talking.
Three Subplots or Less
Generally you are limited to three subplots in a story because again you have limited time to develop them.
There you have it the basic numbers you need to contain your story. As you watch films with this perspective in mind I think you’ll find that they are generally followed pretty closely. I hope this fires you up to write. How long does it take to write a screenplay? Well those numbers are all over the place but if you want some motivation to write quickly I’ll leave you with a quote from Sylvester Stallone:
“It took me about three and a half days to write Rocky.”
Copyright @2008 Scott W. Smith
Posted in screenwriting tips, tagged 08 election, A Beautiful Mind, Addicus Finch, Barak Obama, Diablo Cody, Dustin Hoffman, Erin Brockovich, Hillary Clinton, Iowa caucus, Iowa Causus, John McCain, John Nash, Julia Roberts, Juno, Mike Huckabee, Oscars, politics, Rain Man, Rocky vs. Apollo Creed, Russell Crowe, Scott W. Smith, screenwriting, Susan Grant, The Terminator, Tom Cruise on March 6, 2008 | 3 Comments »
What can politics teach us about screenwriting?
I’ve already talked about the importance of conflict so let’s skip over that for this blog. And first let me say that I took all the photos for this section in the months leading up to the famed Iowa caucus. Jay Leno joked that many people don’t realize that the word caucus is Indian for “The one day anyone pays attention to Iowa.” (Bonus points if you can tell which political “Where’s Waldo” is in the above photo.)
The highest point in Iowa is just 1,670 feet but the political view from just about anywhere is spectacular leading up to the caucus. We understand politics and power, but what’s this all got to do with screenwriting?
When I connect screenwriting and politics it is not the Watergate Hotel, Bill Clinton’s cigar, hanging chads in Palm Beach, restrooms at the Minneapolis airport, or the back stabbing kind of politics. I simply mean this year’s race for the presidency of the United States. The process of going from the many to the one. I call this the power of one.
When I set out to write my first screenplay one of the first questions I wondered about was, “How do you keep track of all the characters?” My answer now could make this my shortest post ever; Your screenplay is about one person. Not too hard to keep track of one person is it? Feel better?
Granted not every character is on a deserted island like Tom Hanks in Cast Away. (I still see Wilson sadly drifting away–”WILSON!”) But most scripts are like Cast Away in that the story is really about one person being transformed. Even if it appears that the film is about two or three people it’s really about one person. Just like there is only going to be one president. Here are a couple Academy Award winning examples:
Good Will Hunting – Will (Matt Damon) is the one who is changed at the end. Ben Affleck’s character is basically unchanged. It’s Will’s story.
The Shawshank Redemption – Where would Andy (Tim Robbins) be without Red (Morgan Freeman)? But it is Andy’s story. Red is like the Vice President.
Rain Man – Dustin Hoffman got the Oscar and the memorable lines, but the story is really about Tom Cruise’s character. He is the one who undergoes the transformation.
Wasn’t that simple? Sure there will be more than one character in your script, a strong antagonist and a supporting cast, even a couple subplots, but your script will have one focal point. There are exceptions–such as ensemble casts (Crash, Magnolia, any Altman film)–but I am addressing probably 75% of all films made.
One could even argue that in buddy films like Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid and Thelma & Louise that the characters are so close they represent one person. (And those dynamic duo’s are as rare as they are close.)
As I mentioned, here in Iowa we get a ground floor perspective on the presidential candidates. And not just for a week or two leading up to the caucuses but it’s a several month-long process. In fact, my writer friend Matthew said it should come with a warning, “If elections last longer than three months…see your doctor.”
My goal leading up to the ’08 election was to see as many of the candidates as I could. I got a nice jump-start when I received a call from Des Moines to cover an event in my neck of the woods where I would be video taping six of the presidential hopefuls. By the time the caucuses were over on January 3 I had seen a total of 13.
It is a bit overwhelming to keep track of what 13 people believe and what they say they can do for the country. For the majority of the candidates I was within ten feet of them and all this happened no more than ten miles from my home. Considering I had only seen one other presidential candidate in my life, I thought it was a pretty interesting opportunity.
Tuesday night Mike Huckabee officially dropped out of the Republican primary so what was over a dozen candidates just two months ago is down to three viable ones. By November it will be either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama versus John McCain.
But come January there will be one new president. And just one.
And so it is with your script. Pour your creative energy into one main character and you will be on your way to keeping track of your characters. I need to stress the importance of reading scripts a lot more than reading books about screenwriting. In reading a script multiple times you will begin to see patterns. Read Susan Grant’s wonderful script for Erin Brockovich and you’ll see that Erin (Julia Roberts) is in every single scene. In most cases if your protagonist is not in a scene you need to have a good reason for that scene being there. (And if neither the protagonist or antagonist is in a scene you need to take an extra long look at why that scene is in your script.)
To test this out I just flipped through Diablo Cody’s Oscar-winning original screenplay Juno, I found three scenes without Juno but even those three were about or connected to Juno. The same thing holds true for A Beautiful Mind where the script I have has John Nash (Russell Crowe) in every scene. (Even if I missed a scene or two where the protagonist is absent you have to admit the evidence for the power of one is pretty strong.)
So the main ways to keep track of your characters is to limit them and don’t let them wander off-screen too long.
This isn’t just a Hollywood movie star thing, it keeps the story on track. Easy for you the writer, easy for the reader at the studio or production company who is reading four scripts a day, and easy for the audience to follow.
We’ll look at the importance of a strong protagonist later, but think of your favorite films and how one character is at the center of the show. Never underestimate the power of one.
I’m sure if Addicus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird), Virgil Tibbs (In the Heat of the Night), or Ellen Ripley (Aliens) were running for the presidency they’d get a few votes. Heck, I bet The Terminator could even win the thing. What would his plan for Iraq be? Maybe in the future there will be amendment to the Constitution that allows cyborgs to run for president.
Photos & Text Copyright © 2008 Scott W. Smith
Posted in screenwriting, Screenwriting Road Trips, tagged 80th Academy Awards, Best Adapted Screenplay, best screenplay, Bob Dylan, Coen brothers, Diablo Cody, entertainment, Frank Baum, Garrison Keillor, Hollywood, IFP, Iowa, Jessica Lange, Joel & Ethan Coen, Juno, Mary Tyler Moore, Midwest writers, Minneaplois Minnesota, Minneapolis Star Tribune, movies, No Country for Old Men, Oscars, Paisley Park, Praire Home Companion, Prince, Scott W. Smith, screenwriting, screenwriting from minnesota, Spam, Spam Museum, St. Paul, Starbucks, Steven Spielberg, Terry Gillam, The Guerilla Film Makers Handbook, University of Iowa, Wizard of Oz on February 27, 2008 | 3 Comments »
And the winner is… Minnesota.
If someone wanted to make a point about talent coming from outside Hollywood the 80th Academy Awards would be a great place to start. (The above photo is not from the Oscars but gave me an excuse to highlight the Minneapolis Convention Center from a production I worked on a couple years ago.)
I can’t recall a more eclectic (and foreign) group of winners than this year’s Oscar winners. Has Hollywood has caught on to outsourcing? And as far as screenwriting is concerned this year’s Oscar’s were distinctly Midwestern, specifically Minneapolis, Minnesota.
First Joel and Ethan Coen who began making films in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park won for best adapted screenplay for No Country for Old Men. And then Diablo Cody won best original screenplay for Juno. Congrats to all three.
I couldn’t be more happy for them because they are at the core of what Screenwriting from Iowa is all about. True it’s not called Screenwriting from Minnesota, but that wouldn’t cause any snickers or even raise any eyebrows would it? But both Iowa and its connected neighbor to the north represent a place far from Hollywood.
For the curious, the drive from my office in Cedar Falls, Iowa to downtown Minneapolis takes 3 ½ hours, unless you stop at the Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota near the border. (If you stop in Forest City for the Winnebago tour as well it’s a full day trip.)
When the Minneapolis Star Tribune picked Cody as “Artist of the Year” last year they said that, “she became a professional writer for City Pages and banged out Juno in the Starbucks annex at the Crystal Super Target.” Though raised in the Chicago area and a graduate of Iowa Cody said, “I became a writer in Minneapolis; that’s why I call myself a Minnesota-based writer.”
The Coen Brothers gave a nod to Minneapolis when they won their third Oscar for the night for Best Picture (they also picked up best director). Joel talked about when they were running around as kids making 8mm films like Henry Kissinger; Man on the Go then said. “What we do now doesn’t feel that much different from what we were doing then.”
They have slowly built a wider and wider audience with their quirky film style beginning with Blood Simple in 1984, through Raising Arizona, Fargo and O Brother Where Art Thou? Their Oscar sweep was impressive but they also made the only film to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes along with the Best Director and Best Actor awards for Barton Fink. They are American originals.
Speaking of America, I think JC Penny’s creative team hit a home run with their Oscar commercials introducing the American Living brand featuring the song “Killing the Blues” by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss. I’m not sure I’ve been in a JC Penny since I was nine but I’m ready to go back. (And they get bonus points for the barn shot. Everyone knows you can’t show/sell Americana without a barn shot.)
Another American original is Cody who has been mentioned on just about every blog I’ve written. There’s a good reason. This blog began as a response after seeing Juno in January. In fact over the weekend Screenwriting from Iowa turned one month old and I must thank Cody for the nudge.
My notes on film had been collected over a 20-year period and were just looking for a place to blossom. I began giving screenwriting workshops in 2004 and approached a publisher at the end of ’07 about the concept of Screenwriting from Iowa. A chapter was requested, then another until I had sent him four chapters. Ultimately the deal didn’t happen but I spent a good deal of last December continuing to write the book.
Then in mid-January I saw Juno and was blow away by the movie. I read that Cody had attended the University of Iowa and was discovered while blogging and I just kind of put two and two together and jumped into the blogging world.
May all you bloggers be encouraged by what Cody told Wired magazine about her unusual rise to fame, “It’s been fun, and I’m enjoying it while I can. I think there’s room for more talented bloggers to break into Hollywood. It seemed like a fluke when I did it, but I won’t be the last blogger to have a film produced. There are so many talented people that exist in the marketplace. So don’t look for a plan. Put your blog into the world and hope that your talent will speak for itself.”
The response based on the Word Press stats chart and links to this site have kept me pumping these out and I hope the comments have been helpful. I also hope the contents can be in book form by this summer.
So I not only thank Cody for the inspiration but to everyone for stopping by. My goal all along is to inspire screenwriters and filmmakers who feel like they are in the middle of nowhere. Now that Cody has an Oscar on her shelf (along with the indy award she received the night before) she can get back to her day job working on The United States of Tara for Steven Spielberg.
“I feel like I’m living The Wizard of Oz,” Cody said. “There was a day when I cracked a door open and everything was Technicolor. It was a very frightening place but a very beautiful place, too, as Dorothy says.”
I’m glad she mentioned The Wizard of Oz because when you come up I-35 from the south and begin approaching downtown Minneapolis about an hour past the Iowa border you’ll see downtown appearing on the horizon like the Emerald City.
I’ve always wondered if Minneapolis was the inspiration for Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz book series. Baum spent time in Aberdeen, Dakota Territory (now South Dakota) and that’s said to be the inspiration for Dorothy’s Kansas. So it’s possible he came off the flat prairie land into Minneapolis on his way to Chicago where he would eventually write his wizard books. Regardless The Wizard of Oz movie– many people’s favorite all-time film, has its roots in the Midwest.
Minneapolis’ twin city St. Paul is where Charles Schulz was raised created Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang, and where Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion is recorded when he’s not on the road.
Over the last couple years I’ve been able to do several video productions in the Twin Cities and they have a solid production base of rental equipment houses, studios, talent as well as a thriving music scene. It’s always fun to work with people who’ve been involved with shooting Prince’s music videos at his studio Paisley Park or on the films Grumpy Old Men, The Mighty Ducks, and Fargo.
Creativity flows from the music scene in Minneapolis as well as the more than 100 theater venues (in fact, they have more seats per capita than any other U.S. city outside New York. “Cutting edge museums, arty hotels and edginess expand Minnapolis’ cool culture reputation..over the past two-year Minneapolis has taken its underground cultural destination status to a new level. (USA Today Dec. ’06)
(I took the photo of The Spoonbridge and Cherry artwork by Clas Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden)
In The Guerilla Film Makers Handbook (Genevieve Jolliffe & Chris Jones) Gail Silva mentions the production scene in New York and San Francisco but adds, “If I had to go anywhere else I’d go to Minneapolis & St. Paul. There is a chapter there of the IFP (Independent Feature Project) where they’re more like the Fine Arts than anywhere else and they’ve been able to do incredible things, including funding films. They have a fund that they got through the State Legislature fund features.”
Let’s not forget that The Mary Tyler Moore show was based in Minneapolis. It also has long history in advertising and I’m told where the Jolly Green Giant and Betty Crocker were created. Rocky & Bullwinkle and Paul Buyan also have a Minnesota roots as does Academy Award winning actress Jessica Lange, Winona Ryder, Josh Harnett and iconic figures J. Paul Getty and Charles Lindbergh.
I don’t know if there is something in the water in Minnesota but I have to conclude that long streches of cold weather warp the mind and are fertile ground for screenwriters, musicians, actors and filmmakers. Terry Gilliam who co-wrote Monty Python and the Holy Grail as well as co-wrote and directed Brazil was born in Minneapolis.
And concluding our connecting the Oscars with Minneapolis let’s not forget to mention Cate Blanchett’s nomination for Best Supporting actress for playing Bob Dylan in “I’m Not There.” Dylan was raised in Duluth and the small mining town Hibbing, Minnesota, but began his rise on the music scene in the Dinkytown area of Minneapolis.
I don’t think the spotlight on Minneapolis is going to fade anytime soon. In fact, right now I’m sure there are screenwriters fighting to write in the exact spot at Starbuck’s where Cody wrote Juno.
Photo & Text Copyright 2008 Scott W. Smith
Posted in Most Viewed Posts, screenwriting, Screenwriting Road Trips, tagged Barry Kemp, Cillian Murphy, Coen brothers, Des Moines, Diablo Cody, Ellen Page, entertainment, Ethan Canin, Field of Dreams, Gene Wilder, Iowa, Iowa Writers' Workshop, Joe Eszterhas, John Irving, Juno, Kurt Vonnegut, Mark Johnson, Max Allan Collins, movies, Oscars, Peacock, Philip Roth, Rebel Without a Cause, Robert Penn Warren, Scott W. Smith, screenwriting, Stewart Stern, Tennessee Williams, The Road to Perdition, University of Iowa, W.P Kinsella on January 23, 2008 | 3 Comments »
Yesterday the Oscar nominations were announced and Diablo Cody and her script Juno were nominated for best original screenplay and the film was also nominated for best picture. I recently pointed out her Iowa connection as having graduated from the University of Iowa.
If you’re not familiar with the creative talent that has come out of the University of Iowa hold on for what I’m about to tell you. You’ll be hard pressed to find a university that has educated and attracted more novelist, poets, essayist, screenwriters and short story writers at such a high level of proficiency and acclaim.
The campus is located just off Interstate 80 in Iowa City. Head west on 80 from New York City and you’ll run right into it. Head east on 80 from San Francisco (or via Park City if you’re coming from Sundance) and you’ll be heading toward the promise land of creative talent. And if you happen to be in Cedar Falls where I’m typing this, it’s just a little over an hour drive south.
Its famed Iowa Writers’ Workshop is the oldest and most prestigious MFA writing program in the country. The program has produced thirteen Pulitzer Prize winners, and has had professors such as Kurt Vonnegut (Slaughterhouse-Five), Robert Penn Warren (All the King’s Men) and Philip Roth (The Human Stain).
Its notable MFA alumni whose writings have become movies include John Irving (The World According to Garp), W.P.Kinsella (Shoeless Joe, which became the movie Field of Dreams), Leonard Schrader (screenplay, Kiss of the Spider Woman), Ethan Canin (The Palace Thief that became the movie The Emperor’s Club), Michael Cunningham (The Hours), Nicholas Meyer (Oscar-nominated The-Seven-Percent-Solution), Robert Nelson Jacobs (screenplay, Chocolat), Max Allan Collins (The Road to Perdition) and Anthony Swofford (Jarhead).
Most recently two Iowa grads have had books listed in The New York Times 10 best books of 2007; Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson and Then We Came to an End by Joshua Ferris.
Those educated at the University of Iowa though not in the writing program include Stewart Stern (Rebel Without a Cause), Barry Kemp (Coach), actor/writer Gene Wilder (Young Frankenstein), producer Mark Johnson (Rain Man), Richard Maibaum (12 James Bond films including From Russia with Love), and the great playwright Tennessee Williams (A Streetcar Named Desire). I’m sure I’ve missed many people, but I think you get the point.
So Diablo Cody joins a distinguished list of honored writers from Iowa. Congratulations on her success. I’m sure her 12 years of Catholic schooling in the Chicago area also played a part in developing her talent. The list of Catholic influenced (some positive, some negative) writers is too long to address now but may be worth a future blog. (I’m neither Catholic nor did I attend the University of Iowa, but I do like to notice trends.)
But make no mistake, Cody’s quirky mix of Midwest roots (she wrote Juno while living in Minneapolis) are what make her writing original. (Ditto that for the Minneapolis raised Coen brothers who just received writing and directing Oscar nominations for No Country for Old Men.) And that originality is what makes Cody attractive to Hollywood, both as a writer and as a person. Stick to your dreams and more importantly keep writing.
And paste this quote from Ohio screenwriter Joe Eszterhas (Basic Instinct) above your writing area: “If you write a good, commercial script and start sending it out – someone will recognize that it is good and commercial…If they think your script will make them money, they will option or buy your script.”
May 2008 Addition: The Juno-Iowa Connection Part 2. Ellen Page the talented lead actress in Juno is in Des Moines this month shooting Peacock with Cillian Murphy.
© Copyright 2008 Scott W. Smith