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Posts Tagged ‘Brie Larson’

Unless you’ve been stuck under a avalanche in Colorado the past few days you can’t have missed that Captain Marvel starring Brie Larson opens tonight. Here’s what the IMDB slash page looks as I type this post. But you may have missed that movie has Iowa roots.

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Captain Marvel co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (who also co-wrote the film with Geneva Robertson-Dworet) shot their first narrative indie film Sugar (2008) in Davenport, Iowa. Actually, in the same Quad City area along the Mississippi River that A Quiet Place screenwriters Scott Beck and Bryan Woods first started making films together as youngsters.

And the last feature Boden and Fleck made before Captain Marvel  (Mississippi Grind) actually starts out in Iowa. Though I think for budgetary reasons the entire film (except for insert shots) was shot in Louisiana. No news yet if Captain Marvel makes a stop in Iowa.

Mississippi Grind, starring Ben Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds, is one of the best acted films that people never saw. It had a limited release in 2015, but is hopefully finding its lost audience now that it’s on Netflix. But the $130,000 box take (less than Captain Marvel probably spent on orange juice for the crew) made Boden and Fleck question the future of their careers.

Here’s a lightly edited excerpt from an interview that Boden and Fleck did in 2016 on The Moment with Brian Koppelman podcast.

Brian Koppelman: I do sense from you a little discouragement on the state of independent film. I look at your career and I think they’ve been able to make all these movies exactly the way that they’ve wanted to. It’s incredible. It’s the kind of thing that later someone looks back and thinks they’re living a french new wave kind of existence. Of course, living it is hard. You’re making exactly  the movies you want to make with no creative compromises. Yet I can see your frustration—are you frustrated by it?

Anna Boden: I am frustrated by it, but I look back at all the movies that we’ve made and the experience of making them—it took a few years to make Mississippi Grind (our last film) and I was frustrated. I was going home to my husband every night as we were trying to get that movie off the ground [and] I was like I can’t do this—this is my least favorite part of filmmaking. And I was complaining to all my friends about it—maybe I should open a B&B in Hudson Valley. And then we got down to New Orleans and started prep and I felt so happy. I felt so exactly where I wanted to be, doing exactly what I wanted to be doing. So confident in what we were doing and the people we’d chosen to work with. And in those moments that it’s worth it. But then you finish and then you spend a year releasing it, and then nine people see it. And then you have to start raising money for your next project. And it’s in those lulls that you start wondering, “Is it really worth it?”

In that lull between releasing Mississippi Grind and beginning to work on Captain Marvel, Boden and Fleck directed three episodes of Koppelman’s Showtime series Billions in 2016 and 2017.

Scott W. Smith

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“One of those lines from the how-to-write-movies books finally became real to me: The script is only a blueprint. During filming, last-minute decisions have to be made because of weather or budget, an individual’s availability or the director’s flash of insight. Pushing for greater naturalism, [director Lenny Abrahamson] often got the actors to improvise within a scene and I was startled by how much I liked the results.

“…A novelist shouldn’t write the screenplay unless she embraces the chance to change everything, to try to make the same magic over again, out of different ingredients. (For instance, ‘Room’ the novel gives him an expressive child’s body. The book is one boy’s story, and his mother is only shown in flashes, through his limited perspective; the film is a two-hander, with Brie Larson’s extraordinary performance bringing Ma right into the spotlight.)

“Adapting fiction for the screen is an act of mysterious translation, and working on ‘Room’ taught me much about both forms that I’d never known.”
Novelist/screenwriter Emma Donoghue (Room)
Novel Ideas for a Script/LA Times

Related post:
Good in a Room—Literally
Up in the Air—The Book vs. The Film
Up in the Air—The Book vs. The Film (part 2)

Scott W. Smith

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“Follow your curiosity. Stories are sometimes found in the most unlikely places.”
Producer Laura MacDonald (Gladiator)
(That’s the drum that I’ve been beating on this blog since 2008.)

Yesterday the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences dropped the above video giving advice to screenwriters. Here are a few of my favorite insights from that video:

“Screenwriting is no different than playing the violin, you have practice. Read the screenplays of your favorite movies, watch the movie with the screenplay on your lap—just try to sort of reverse engineer it.”
Aaron Sorkin

“I would say write something that’s inexpensive to produce. Don’t write like a 200 million dollar movie and then wonder why no one wants to take a shot and make it.”
Seth Rogan

“Please don’t describe your female characters as ‘broken but beautiful.’ Please. Please. I’ve read it so many times.”
Brie Larson 

“Don’t over-describe, let the action and the dialogue do the work.” 
Lenny Abrahamson

“When I can see that someone is following a system, or some formula that they’ve been taught, I completely lose interest. I prefer things that break the rules somehow.”
Michael Shannon

Related posts:

Aiming for Small Scale Success First “More and more people are getting their foot in the door by doing really good work on a small scale.”—Jon Favreau
Little Victories, Big Lights
Descriptive Writing (Frank Darabont)
‘Learning from the very best’
Descriptive Writing (Characters)
‘Broken Wings & Silver Linings’
Screenwriter’s Work Ethic  “For me, it was a matter of years of trying to develop my writing in the same way that some people spend years learning to play the violin.” Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption)
How to Write a Screenplay in One Day

Scott W. Smith

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