Oscar-winning screenwriter Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine) for years has given a talk called Endings:The Good, The Bad, & The Insanely Great. You’d think a talk like that would blaze a trail through the internet, but I’ve yet to see an audio or video link. So we’re at the mercy of others who’ve heard the talk somewhere who can pass along some notes and quotes.
Here’s what Shelley Matsutani wrote six years ago after seeing Arndt give the talk in Los Angeles at the Screenwriting Expo 2006.
ARNDT’S RUBRIC FOR ENDINGS:
Bad = positive & predictable
Good = positive & surprising
Insanely Great = positive & surprising and meaningful
*Emotion is supercharged with meaning, meaning = emotion
Keep in mind that this was year’s before the 2010 release of Toy Story 3 (which Arndt received another Oscar-nomination) which has an insanely great ending.
In recent years at the Austin Film Festival Arndt has given the talk or been on panels twice giving examples of insanely great endings which include:
Little Miss Sunshine
Jessee Ferreras heard Arndt’s talk this year at the Vancouver International Film Festival and quotes Arndt saying:
“An ending has to wrap not only the narrative logic of the story —it also has to be emotionally fulfilling. It has to wrap up the emotional logic of the story…What you want to do is to make the story’s ending meaningful but in a surprising way.”
Scott Myers at Go Into the Story said there may be a PDF on one of Arndt’s talk but I have yet to find it. So let me put out a request for any link that gives the full context of Arndt’s talk Endings:The Good, The Bad, & The Insanely Great.