Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Goldsmith’

“I’m the kind of guy who wants to know the entire movie before I write it.”
Screenwriter Jordan Peele (Get Out)
Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith podcast

P.S. Peele also said on that podcast that while he wrote the first draft of Get Out in 2 1/2—3 months, the idea had been kicking around in his head for five years. “Follow the fun,” is his bonus writing advice.

P.P.S. Just to point out how different writers are, Stephen King says that the story comes to him as he writes his novels. He’s the first reader as well as the writer. That’s the exact opposite method that Jordan Peele used. “Different strokes for different folks.”

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“One of the lessons I took from Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner—which is one of the influences here—is that one of the reasons that film was so effective in its discussion with race is because it started with a situation that was universal. Take the race out of it, everybody can relate to the fear of meeting your potential in laws for the first time. At some point I had a revelation that was also the way to get into [Get Out]. ”
Writer/Director Jordan Peele (Get Out)
The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith podcast

Scott W. Smith


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“My favorite Christmas film is It’s a Wonderful Life and I think Capra did a great job of balancing the light and the dark, the comedic and the dramatic—but George Bailey from the mid-point on he’s got to go through some really tough, dark stuff. And I think the reason that that film lives on today, and the reason every time you watch it is you get choked up at the end is because—I don’t care how tough you are—it’s because it’s earned. He had to go to the tough place and when he gets that reconciliation, his redemption— and not only the reunion with his family, but all those folks from the town come—you bought it and it’s okay to get sappy, mushy, dusty, whatever because I felt Capra and Jimmy Stewart earned that.”
Filmmaker Edward Burns (The Brothers McMullen, The Fitzgerald Family Christmas)
The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith

P.S. Capra always gets a lot of credit for It’s a Wonderful Life for obvious reasons, but if you look at the IMDB credits for that film here’s what you’ll see in the writing credits:
Francis Goodrich (screenplay) and
Albert Hackett (screenplay) and
Frank Capra (screenplay)
Jo Swerling (additional scenes)
Philip Van Doren Stern (story)
Michael Wilson (contributor to screenplay (uncredited)

Goodrich and Hackett won the 1956 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for their play The Diary of Anne Frank. They both also received 4 Oscar nominations including their script for The Father of the Bride (1950). Swerling, who was born in Ukraine, was a Tony-Award winning writer and lyricist and received an Oscar nomination for co-writing The Pride of the Yankees. Stern was born in Wyalusing, Pennsylvania and was an accomplished historian who wrote over 40 books. So there was a lot of talent behind the story/script of It’s a Wonderful Life. How many people mention Stern as the original source of It’s a Wonderful Life?  Tomorrow I’ll write about how Stern couldn’t get his short story that became It’s a Wonderful Life published so— in the true independent spirit—he published it himself.

Related Posts:

Insanely Great Endings
Insanely Great Endings (Part 2)
It’s a Wonderful Prison (“Shawshank is basically It’s a Wonderful Life in a prison.”—Frank Darabont)
Filmmaking Quote #28 (Frank Capra)
Emotional Screenwriting (Tip #53)
Writing Quote #22 (Dara Marks)
Hope & Redemption
Screenwriting Quote #146 (Edward Burns)
The 10 Film Commandments of Edward Burns

Scott W. Smith

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“What I react against in other people’s work, as a filmgoer, is when I see something in a movie that I feel is supposed to make me feel emotional, but I don’t believe the filmmaker shares that emotion. They just think the audience will.  And I think you can feel that separation. So any time I find myself writing something that I don’t really respond to, but I’m telling myself, ‘Oh yes, but the audience is going to like this,’ then I know I’m on the wrong track and I just throw it out.”
Writer/director Christopher Nolan (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises)
Interview with Jeff Goldsmith
Best of Creative Screenwriting Volume 2

Related post: 40 Days of Emotion

Scott W. Smith

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“After a checkered career like mine, it’s nice to be an overnight success.”
Screenwriter David Seidler (The King’s Speech)
LA Times

“I had no real money, no reputation, no real career.”
David Seidler
Reflecting upon arriving in L.A. at age 40 (33 years before winning an Oscar)

How long did it take for David Seilder to really prepare for his Oscar speech? All his life.

From a variety of sources and interviews this is what I believe was the process, the journey that Seidler took in his quest to write the script for The King’s Speech . (Granted some of these are easier to follow than others.)

“I work on 3×5 cards and there can be hundreds of them. And then I start spreading them over the walls and the floors and post them to the ceiling. Start spreading them around getting them into some sort of organization. Then I like to sit down and have a very detailed outline. I take longer to write the treatment than I take to write the script.”
David Siedler
Creative Screenwriting podcast with Jeff Goldsmith

  • Seidler was born in England in 1937
  • He began stuttering at age three
  • Moved to the United States as a child
  • Was inspired by King George’s speeches during World War II and overcame stuttering himself
  • Graduated from Cornell University in 1959
  • Beginning in 1981, at age 43, pursued writing the King’s story (the King’s nickname was Birtie)
  • Discovered the story  of Lionel Logue who would not only helped Birtie overcome his stuttering, but become the King’s friend as well.
  • Discovered that Logue’s son had his father’s diary which included notes of working with the king
  • Got permission from the son to use them as long as the Queen gave permission
  • Wrote the Queen asking for permission, he waited, and then heard the answer was “Not in my lifetime”
  • Waited for Queen to die… 20 years of waiting (2002)
  • Got cancer, got treatment
  • Decided it’s “now or never” to write script
  • Using hundreds of 3X5 cards, wrote down script ideas
  • When research phase was over, spent 8-10 hours a day writing (despite age/cancer)
  • Took 15 minute naps as needed
  • When he got stuck, he took a walk
  • Wrote first draft in two months
  • Send to friends, who sent to friends
  • Snuck 5-page treatment to Geoffrey Rush and got him attached to the script
  • Somewhere in here got divorced. Was also declared cancer free
  • In 2005 there was a staged reading
  • Director Tom Hooper’s parents were in attendance
  • Hopper’s mother tell her son about the story and he gets on board
  • They shop script to BBC and HBO only to have them fall through
  • Writer and director work together for 4 months honing the script.
  • They got more talented actors together
  • The got funding
  • The film got made
  • The film found favor with critics and audiences
  • The film won many awards
  • In 2011 the film won 4 Oscars; best picture, best actor, best director, best original screenplay
  • David Seidler gave his Oscar acceptance speech 30 years after first starting to work on the screenplay

Related posts:
Screenwriter David Seidler

Writing “The King’s Speech”

Scott W. Smith

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One of the great things about listening and reading about writers talking discussing the writing process is you see how everyone’s approach is different. Some write in the morning, some at night, some write quickly in bursts and others methodically take their time. Rod Serling (The Twilight Zone) was very successful writing from theme, but fellow Syracuse University grad Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, A Few Good Men) has a little different perspective on theme:

“When you’re talking about things like theme you have to be really careful because that’s not what’s going to make the car go. Okay? It’s what’s going to be what makes the car be good and give you a good ride. But that’s not what’s going to make the car go—at least not for me. You know, everybody writes different. But for me I have to stick—really closely, like it’s a life raft— to intention and obstacles. Just the basics of somebody wants something, something is standing in their way of getting it. Make sure you have that cemented in place. Themes will then become apparent to you and you can hang a lantern on the ones you like. Bring them into relief, you can get rid of the ones that aren’t doing you any good and you can paint the car and make it look really nice. But the car isn’t going to turn over unless you see to the basics of drama, and drama is intention and obstacles, somebody wants something, something is standing in their way of getting it.”
Aaron Sorkin
Creative Screenwriting podcast interview by Jeff Goldsmith
December 24, 2010

Related Post: Screenwriting Via Index Cards (Touches on the writing process of Aaron Sorkin.)

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“What jumped out at me (about the 14 page treatment for Ben Mezrich’s book The Accidental Billionaires) wasn’t Facebook. Facebook wasn’t something I knew a lot about when I started. Frankly, it’s not something I know a whole lot about now. I know more about Facebook in 2003-04 than I do in 2010. But what jumped out at me about it was set against the backdrop of this very modern invention was a story that was as old as storytelling itself.  Of friendship, and loyalty, and betrayal, and class, and power—these things that Aeschylus* would have written about, or Shakespeare would have written about, or Paddy Chayefsky would have written about a few decades ago, and it was just lucky for me that none of those guys were available so I got to write about it.”
Aaron Sorkin on what attracted him to write the screenplay for The Social Network
Creative Screenwriting podcast interview by Jeff Goldsmith
December 24, 2010  

* Greek playwright born circa 525 B.C (That’s his pre-Facebook look on the top right.)

Related post: Screenwriting Quote of the Day #42 (Aaron Sorkin)

Movie Cloning (Part 1)

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