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Posts Tagged ‘Bridesmaids’

Think I can segue from two previous posts about Bridesmaids to one about Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close?

No problem. In Bridesmaids there is a scene where the lead character’s life is falling a part and her mother tells her to watch the movie Cast Away saying, “It’s like Forrest Gump on a deserted island.” Forrest Gump was written by Eric Roth, the same writer as Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

I think I’ve written something about every Academy Award-nominated Best Picture and/or its writers except for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. So I’m cramming for finals before the Oscars Sunday night. Here’s an exchange found in the article, ‘Extremely Loud’ Screenwriter On Turning The Novel Into A Film;

Eric Herschthal: A common trope is that no one can capture the tragedy of the Holocaust in art. Do you see something similar happening with Sept. 11 works of art?

Eric Roth: “First off, I don’t like to compare anything to the Holocaust. [Director Stanley] Kubrick. said you can’t make a movie out of the Holocaust; it’s too visceral to capture on film. I think he’s right. But I think you can make stories about grief, about loss, and how you deal with them. That’s what I tried to do.”

Roth received and Oscar-nominated for his script. He’s had a three other screenplay Oscar-nominations:

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (shared with Robin Swicord)
Munich (shared with Tony Kushner)
The Insider (Shared with Michael Mann)
Forrest Gump (Sole screenwriting credit and an his sole Oscar win)

A few days ago Roth received the 2012 Laurel Award for Screen, lifetime achievement in outstanding writing for motion pictures, from the  Writers Guild of America, West.

“In a career that spans over four decades, Eric Roth’s work – from Forrest Gump to The Insider, Ali, The Good Shepard, Benjamin Button, and this year’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – has traced the larger span of our history and the smaller, individual arcs of the human life. With poetry and humor, he has illuminated time and love and moral responsibility. He has made going to the movies both a stirring emotional education and a true joy.”
WGAW President Christopher Keyser

Quirky facts about Roth: According to IMDB, he wrote one of Kurosawa‘s last films (Rhapsody in August), and his daughter, Vanessa Roth, won an Academy Award (Best Documentary Short) in 2008 for her film Freeheld.

Related posts:
Eric Roth on Theme & Loneliness
Change the Weather (Tip #44)

Scott W. Smith

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“We basically pounded out our first draft in six days.”
Annie Mumolo, co-writer of Bridesmaids

Because I write so much about screenwriters who wrote 6-13 screenplays before they sold a script, it’s always nice to point out the anomalies. (It’s much more encouraging to new writers, right?) Here’s the story of a first screenplay that was good enough to get an Oscar-nomination:

Bridesmaids was our first screenplay. I knew how scripts worked, but I didn’t know what should generally happen on page 30, or in three acts, so we bought one of Syd Field‘s book on screenwriting. When Annie and I turned in our original draft, she was seven months pregnant—and then she was seven months pregnant again when we shot the movie. We joked that when her babies came out, their first words were going to be ‘Judd’ [Apatow, who produced the movie] and ‘rewrite.’ There are a lot of sad moments in the film, which we really wanted. In the end, the story is the most important thing, It’s a story first and funny second.”
Kristen Wiig
Co-writer, Bridesmaids
The Hollywood Reporter; How Top Screenwriters Hone Their Craft 

Of course, to be totally fair, I should point that while Wiig says they pounded out the first draft in just under a week, it was really a five year process to get script polished and the movie on the big screen. (And that’s with Judd Apatow in their corner.) Plus the 38-year-old actress/writer began taking acting classes in college at the University of Arizona, moved to L.A. where she was joined the improv group The Groundlings (where she met Mumolo), joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 2005 (and would later win a Primetime Emmy), and she got her first feature film role in the 2007 Judd Apatow film Knocked Up.

So like Diablo Cody (who also had Oscar success with her first script) Wiig had been at the creative game fifteen plus years before her Oscar success. (Cody said she’d been writing everyday since she was 12-years-old, had a Media Studies degree from the University of Iowa, had a book published, had been a guest on David Letterman, and a good enough blogger to interest a Hollywood manager before winning an Oscar for her first script—Juno.)

Mumolo took her own long road to screenwriting success. According to IMDB, she performed her first comedy in seventh grade, got a degree in history from U.C. Berkeley, trained at the South Coast Rep in Cosa Mesa, is a Groundling member, and has been working steadily in TV as an actress for almost a decade.

Oh, and about that script written in six days— just the first draft. It went through many layers before its Oscar-nomination. There we just a few notes from producers and the studio on how to improve the script.

“Since we’ve been in this since 2006, the amount of notes that we’ve gotten over the years, on so many different subjects, and on so many levels—it is overwhelming and it is hard to sift through…It’s a hard thing to swallow because you get excited that you sold something, and then you turn in your first draft, and they go ‘great, we love it—here’s 25,000 page of notes.’”
Annie Mumolo
Script Mag podcast with Jenna Milly

And also factor in that there was not only a heavy dose of improv on the set, but Mumolo pointed out that the improv carried over into the ADR session, which is dubbing lines of dialogue in the post-production end of the process. So the other actors and actresses had a hand in the dialogue, and director Paul Feig, along with editors William Kerr and Michael L. Sale (and their editorial team), all had a hand in going through the mound of footage crafting together a cohesive story.

So call it basically a six days “plus” script, before the equation leads to the Oscar nomination and a worldwide box office gross of $288 million.

P.S. Similarities between Bridesmaids and Juno? Both are female-driven comedies set in the Midwest (one Minnesota and the other Wisconsin/Chicago) — and both are one word titles.

Related post: First Screenplay, Oscar—Precious

Scott W. Smith

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