“It’s my first Oscar nomination, my first screenplay. I think I should quit now, and take up a bonsai tree.”
Quick what do screenwriters William Goldman and Mark Boel’s have in common? Let me back-up. You may be asking who is Mark Boal? He was just nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay The Hurt Locker. Though he received a story credit on In The Valley of Elah, The Hurt Locker is his first screenplay.
Since I write a lot about how common it is for writers to write anywhere between 6 & 23 screenplays before they make their make their first sale, I thought it would be fair to point out the exception to the rule. But before you think it’s that easy, let me get back to what Boal’s and Goldman have in common.
They both went to Oberlin College in Ohio. (Goldman was an English major and Boal graduated in ’95 with honors in philosophy.)
Boal went on to write articles for The Village Voice, Rolling Stone Magazine, Budapest Sun, Mother Jones, The New York Observer and Playboy.
“Before 9/11, I covered politics, the war on drugs, technology and the Internet in relationship to privacy, but it was always hard news and investigative reporting. Then Sept. 11th happened, which was a big turning point for me in terms of what I wrote about. After that, I started covering the war on terror and writing about the military. “
It was while being embedded as a journalist in Iraq that he came up with both ideas for In The Valley of Elah and The Hurt Locker. The later being a film that equaled Avatar with nine Oscar nominations and that Roger Ebert named as the second best film of the last decade. Not a bad start for Mr. Boal.