“I’m the kind of guy who wants to know the entire movie before I write it.”
Screenwriter Jordan Peele (Get Out)
Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith podcast

P.S. Peele also said on that podcast that while he wrote the first draft of Get Out in 2 1/2—3 months, the idea had been kicking around in his head for five years. “Follow the fun,” is his bonus writing advice.

P.P.S. Just to point out how different writers are, Stephen King says that the story comes to him as he writes his novels. He’s the first reader as well as the writer. That’s the exact opposite method that Jordan Peele used. “Different strokes for different folks.”

If you weren’t alive in 1977 this is what was popular before the internet came along:

“To me, The Gong Show was the simplest and most elegant of TV shows. The anti-game show. The anti-variety show. A hot mess of street performers and buskers and B-list celebrities who all appeared to be in on the joke. At base, they dared you to watch, and I loved it. Watching Chuck Barris on television proved to me that the best way to be funny, was to amuse yourself before all others. Those who laughed along with you, became your boss. Those who didn’t, were of no consequence. It’s the truest thing I’ve ever learned in my career.”
Mike Rowe blog post

Chuck Barris—who died last week (but isn’t to be confused with Chuck Berry, who also died last week)—had a movie produced on a book he wrote. Charlie Kaufman wrote the screenplay to Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, where Barris said he was once a hitman for the CIA.

Scott W. Smith

“One of the lessons I took from Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner—which is one of the influences here—is that one of the reasons that film was so effective in its discussion with race is because it started with a situation that was universal. Take the race out of it, everybody can relate to the fear of meeting your potential in laws for the first time. At some point I had a revelation that was also the way to get into [Get Out]. ”
Writer/Director Jordan Peele (Get Out)
The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith podcast

Scott W. Smith


“I think the greatest scare in horror is turning the corner in The Shining and finding the girls at the end of the hallway. It’s the same scare as when you first meet Hannibal Lecter [in The Silence of the Lambs]. You come down the hallway, and he’s just waiting for you. It’s the protagonist in motion and something waiting for him, patiently and calmly. Those are so chilling to me. The plane in North by Northwest [chasing Cary Grant’s character]. One of the great things you can do in movies is fool someone into seeing depth. When you see the plane far away, and it gets closer and closer, it changes your breathing.”
Writer/director Jordan Peele (Get Out)
New York Times interview with Jason Zinoman

Scott W. Smith

“For young black horror filmmakers, if you have a script, reach out and I’ll try to help it get made. Monkeypaw Productions is my production company and we’re really trying to promote untapped voices in genre… The reason we don’t see more films about the African American experience is because we haven’t nurtured black talent, we haven’t encouraged young black filmmakers to dream big.”
Writer/director Jordan Peele (Get Out) @Jordan Peele
Digital Spy

Related post: The First Black Feature Filmmaker

Scott W. Smith

“You will fail at some point in your life, accept it. You will lose, you will embarrass yourself, you will suck at something…And when you fall throughout life, remember this, fall forward.”
Denzel Washington

Full speech:

I think the American psychologist Maslow said if your only tool is a hammer you view every problem as a nail. And I would flip that and say that the geniuses have very limited toolsets—they have a hammer. And their genius is in looking for nails. That’s their genius, right? They have a very limited skill set but they master it and apply it incredibly well. I’m reminded of the movie The Karate Kid. Wax on wax off. Sand the floor. And then he had that crane-kicky move. And he won the California State Championship on the basis of those three. I’m goofing here on The Karate Kid, but it illustrates a profound point to master a few skills well, and then look for domains when you can apply those skills, and stay out of everything else. Warren Buffett does the same thing with his investing.
Adam Robinson @IAmAdamRobinson
Podcast Interview with Tim Ferriss;
Lessons from Warren Buffett, Bobby Fischer, and Other Outliers
(Starting at 31:09)

It’s doesn’t take much to apply that to successful screenwriters, directors, actors, editors, etc.

Related quote:
“Swing your swing. Not some idea of a swing. Not a swing you saw on TV. Not that swing you wish you had. No, swing your swing.”
Golf legend Arnold Palmer

And a little bonus hammer-themed folk music written by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays. The Peter, Paul and Mary version became a top #10 hit in 1962.


Scott W. Smith

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