Posts Tagged ‘Callie Khouri’

“I had dabbled with the idea of (becoming a writer), but I had never actually attempted anything. I mean, maybe once or twice I had tried to write a sitcom script or something like that, but again the discipline thing was a problem. And then one night, I was coming home from a shoot (working on music videos), and I had just gotten off the freeway and I pulled up in front of my house and parked the car. And I turned off the engine, and I thought, two women go on a crime spree. That was about December ’97. And I just sat there in the car because of that phrase. I liken it to being hit in the head with a two-by-four. That’s what it felt like…I finally decided I was going to write a screenplay…Probably a total of four people knew that I was doing this and they were all sworn to secrecy. I didn’t want to walk around telling people,’Yeah I’m writing a screenplay,’ because I knew I’d never finish it, I knew I would just get nothing but negative feedback. It seems people are always so willing to believe that you’re going to fail. Especially with somebody who didn’t go to film school, I was kind of there by luck. There were certainly people who would say, ‘Well, what the hell do you know about it. You didn’t go to AFI.’ I just decided to not open myself up to that. And the challenge to me was to just finish the screenplay; that was all I was trying for. I didn’t think about selling it. I didn’t think about anything.”
Callie Khouri interviewed in American Screenwriters
Khouri finished that screenplay, Thelma & Louise, in six months and it not only sold and got produced—but in 1992 she won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for that script and it would later be named by the Writers Guild of America as #72 on their list of 101 Greatest Screenplays.  (Ahead of The Verdict, Witness, Rocky, Do the Right thing, and The Grapes of Wrath.)
Like Diablo Cody, Khouri proved that you don’t always have to go to film school, have written 6-10 scripts…or be a man to make a huge impact.

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Shane Black stormed on the scene back in the early 80s when as a 23-year-old he sold his script Lethal Weapon. That film came out in ’87 and was a solid hit that turned into a franchise. Black was then paid a reported $1.75 million for his script The Last Boy Scout, and then made $4 million writing The Long Kiss Goodnight.

“Here’s what it is…here’s what I didn’t know when I was starting out that I now know…I thought when you were starting out it was really hard to write because you hadn’t broken in yet, you hadn’t really hit your stride yet. What I found out paradoxically is that the next script you write doesn’t get easier because you wrote one before …each one gets harder by a factor of ten.” 
Shane Black
                                  Speaking at Sherman Oaks Experimental College 

That may somewhat explain why Black has only had two produced screenplays in the last 13 years, why Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have just a total of two produced screenplays in the last 12 years after winning an Oscar for writing Good Will Hunting and why Callie Khouri has just two features produced since she won an Oscar back in 1991 for writing Thelma & Louise. That doesn’t take anything away from these artists as writers, directors and/or actors  — it just points out how hard it is to write a good script that gets produced and finds an audience.


Scott W. Smith

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