Posts Tagged ‘Emily Blunt’

A Quiet Place hit $150 million at the worldwide box office over the weekend. Not bad for a movie that just cost $17 million to produce and has only been in theaters 10 days. You may be surprised to learn that it started as an idea that could be made on a micro-budget.

We started thinking what can we write that could be made. Again, this was almost ten years ago—it’s been a long journey.  But we started pivoting our point of view to what films that could be producible? 

Kind of a lesson we learned growing up in Iowa, we would write things for resources that we had in front of us. Something that could be produced, could be made, and hopefully be an interesting story, too. That’s a long way of saying that’s somewhat the genesis of A Quiet Place. It’s like A Quiet Place was written for us to shoot back in Iowa for $50,000 if everyone passed on it. It would have been a very, very different version without Emily Blunt and John Kraninski. But it was something we just had a passion for, and we knew worst case scenario that could be plan B.
Scott Beck on writing the original script for A Quiet Place with Bryan Woods
H/T Christopher Lockhart via a Q&A video at the WGA Theater in Beverly Hills

I saw the film over the weekend and could see the DNA of their Iowa roots in the movie (even though the film was shot in rural New York):

Silo full of corn
Old truck
Pitchfork and hatchet
Small town Main Street.

And I also saw the DNA of some popular movies scattered throughout A Quiet Place:

Them! (1954)

P.S. Scott Beck and Bryan Woods are originally from Bettendorf, Iowa and graduated from the University of Iowa in 2007, both less than 2 hours from where I lived in Cedar Falls, Iowa when I started this blog. (Our only connection that I know of is we both used Iowa-based gaffer/jib-operator Jon Van Allen on our films and other productions.)  I don’t know if Beck or Woods ever read a single post of Screenwriting from Iowa…and Other Unlikely Places—but they’re example A of what’s possible if you have a movie idea and live in an unlikely place.

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Scott W. Smith


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“I love finding the worst things happening at the best moments of a person’s life. So trying to have a scene that embodies those disparate elements of joy and agony when you keep pushing and pulling the characters like that—that’s fun writing.”
Two-time Oscar-winning producer/director/writer Paul Haggis (Crash)
The Dialogue: Learning from the Masters interview with Mike De Luca

When I heard the above Haggis quote about “the worst things happening at the best moments of a person’s life” I thought of the movie Kramer vs. Kramer where near the start of the film Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) is put in charge of a large advertising account that if he succeeds will land him a nice promotion. He comes home to his family excited at this opportunity only to have his wife (Meryl Streep) tell him that’s she’s leaving him.

Hoffman’s character summarizes his wife leaving saying, “she’s ruined one of the five best days of my life.” Super example of “the worst things happening at the best moments of a person’s life.”

Robert Benton won Oscars for both writing and directing Kramer vs. Kramer, as did Hoffman and Streep for their roles. The film based on the novel Kramer vs. Kramer by Avery Corman also won best picture. The 35-year-old film holds up well today, and even though it was released four years before actress Emily Blunt (The Devil Wear Prada, Edge of Tomorrow) was born this is what she had to say about the movie:

Kramer vs. Kramer makes me weep. I love that offset of the dynamic, of the father being the main caretaker and his life being put into uproar in trying adapt and take care of this little boy. I love the perseverance of that film, and it makes me bawl my eyes out.”
Emily Blunt
Five Favorite Films with Emily Blunt

And if that’s not enough for you to go back and check out the movie, screenwriter Billy Ray (Captain Phillips) says the Kramer vs. Kramer script is one of five you need to study in order to understand screenwriting structure.  It’s one full of meaningful conflict and emotions.

What movie scenes jump to your mind that mix joy and agony?

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Scott W. Smith 

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