Posts Tagged ‘Finding Forrester’

“You write your first draft with your heart. And you rewrite with your head.”
William Forrester (Sean Connery) in Finding Forrester
Written by Mike Rich and directed by Gus Van Sant (both who are based in Portland, Oregon)

“It helps to live in LA, but it’s not imperative.  I was living in Portland, Oregon when I got my first break (“Finding Forrester”), and given the fact we had three kids, my wife and I really wanted to stay here.  We’ve made it work ever since, though it’s certainly a double-edged knife.  On the plus side, we get to live in Portland, a city I’ve loved since my college days.  On the minus side of things, general meetings and pitch sessions require a trip to LA; sometimes lasting several days.  Oftentimes, the general meetings outnumber the pitches, simply because there’s so much turnover within the industry.  Familiar faces you’ve worked with in the past don’t always stick around, and I find myself constantly meeting new folks who will make the decision on whether a project moves forward.
Screenwriter Mike Rich (Finding Forrester, Secretariat)
Do You Have To Live In L.A. To Make It As A Screenwriter? by Alfredo

P.S. That Mike Rich quote is the perfect way to celebrate the 1,400th post today on Screenwriting from Iowa…and Other Unlikely Places. As I’ve said before on this blog, Iowa is a metaphor. A place far from the core. It could be Iowa or Ojai . West Des Moines, West Africa, West Covina—or West Portland. Most importantly, it’s not where you live but what you write. Rich got his first break when he won a Nichol Fellowship in 1998 for his script Finding Forrester. 

Below is a WordPress summary map that shows where readers of this blog are located. And while I only have one view in places like Kyrgyzstan, Mozambique, and Gambia—it almost covers the globe. And these are just the 2012 numbers. Thanks for reading, and may you keep on writing wherever you live.

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Screenwriting Quote #145 (Mike Rich)
Why You Should Move to L.A.
Why You Shouldn’t Move to L.A.

Scott W. Smith

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“I think screenplays should be written with as much speed as possible.” 

William Goldman, Two-time Oscar Winner

(All the President’s Men, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid)


Do you want to do something foolish this April?

Why not write a screenplay in one month?

I’m not joking.

I know there are a zillion reason why you can’t do it…but it can be done. Stallone wrote Rocky in less than a week. Ditto that for Joe Eszterhas writing Basic Instinct.

Granted it took Arthur Miller six weeks to write Death of a Salesman, but let’s not shoot for such lofty goals this time around.


“It’s important to write quickly because creativity comes from the unconscious.

William Mastrosimone


When you write quickly you write from the subconscious. It was said that Jack Kerouac used to take a butcher roll of paper and just keep writing. (Let me sneak an Iowa reference in here…In “On the Road,” Kerouac wrote, “the prettiest girls in the world live in Des Moines.”)

But those moments seem to be rare for any writers so you need to grab a hold of them when they come.

(To see a great shot of Kerouac’s roll of writing check out the trailer for a new documentary call One.Fast.Move.or.I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sir directed by Curt Worden. That looks like a great film.)

I think if you read the tips on this blog it will help you get out of the gate. There is a wonderful book on screenwriting by Viki King titled, How to Write a Movie in 20 Days that is a fitting book to recommend.

The title isn’t the only thing that’s kept this book in circulation longer than most. Most books on screenwriting tend to be written by men and tend to be analytical in nature. Viki brings some nurturing skills to the table. Like, it’s okay to write. And all artists need encouragement .

But the main thing I like about the book is she says day one—write ten pages. Just like that. The crazy thing is you can do it. It may be like learning the game of chess, you may not be any good at the game but at least you’re playing.

Don’t have a computer or screenwriting software? That’s okay, there are still successful screenwriters who prefer to write on a typewriter (Joe Eszterhas, his films have earned over a billion dollars at the box office) or to hand write their scripts (Emma Thompson, Oscar winner for Sense and Sensibility)

Need a little more inspiration? Accountability? Competition?

Script Frenzy may be for you. I don’t know much about it but beginning today there are 6,460 writers signed up to write at least a 100 page original screenplay within the next 30 days. Check it out at http://www.scriptfrenzy.org/ (Kids and teens can get into the act as well through a separate challenge.)

And once you hit that deadline you can turn around and send your script to The Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting whose deadline is May 1, 2008. 

That fellowship attracts the best screenwriters who have never sold a script. Past winners include Michael A. Rich (Finding Forrester), Doug Atchison (Akeelah and the Bee), Susannah Grant (who went on to write Erin Brockovich). It’s not free to enter and the competition is stiff. But remember, we are talking about screenwriting here.

Heck, half the writers in the WGA didn’t earn any money writing last year. You do this because you have a passion and desire to write and tell stories. And like riding a bike the more you do it the better you’ll get. (And not too many people get paid to ride a bike either. But there’s satisfaction there.)

Then after you’ve written your script in 30 days, and entered it in the Nicholl Fellowship you can take a month or so and polish your script for the June 15, 2008 deadline for Final Draft’s Big Break screenwriting contest.   

I still think most screenwriting contests are money makers for the groups and people that sponsor them, but if it keeps you turning out pages that’s good. And writers have launched careers through them so don’t rule them out. Just be careful where you send your money because at $50. a pop that adds up.

But mainly focus on writing and marketing your writing.  Meaning you should be contacting producers, agents, and anyone related to the industry that can get your work read. That includes the local production talent wherever you live.

Be like that protagonist you are writing about; willing to overcome obstacles to go to the end of the line to achieve a goal. And if you can write a screenplay in 30 days you can at least cross that off your bucket list.


Scott W. Smith

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