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“I devoted myself to writing for years without representation or a promise of anything. And there were times when I felt quite down about my prospects.”
Oscar-winning screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher

Geoffrey Fletcher walked away with an Oscar for his first produced feature screenplay, Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire. That part is true.

But what is also true is that he’s been at it for 25 years. The 39 year-old writer first began making films when he was 14. He later graduated from Harvard and earned a master’s degree from NYU. He was able to learn first hand from other NYU grads Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee, he made short films (and even had one shown at Sundance in ’96), he worked temp jobs to pay the bills, and eventually became an adjunct film professor at Columbia and NYU. And by his account the script count of unproduced pages he has written runs into the thousands. Thousands.

“I often felt like Precious — out of the picture and invisible. I was within reach of my dream of filmmaking but also a million miles away. I kept trying. But it’s tough to get people to listen to what I had to say. It’s the nature of the industry — there are so many people trying to get in. All the doors in the industry seemed to close, and I couldn’t seem to do anything right….While working on this project, I felt resurrected and reinvigorated. I poured every ounce of myself into the script. Looking back, it seemed to require every bit of it.”
Geoffrey Fletcher
Combined quote from LA Times article by John Horn and Take Part article by Wendy Cohen

Perhaps the one thing I’ve leaned most about doing this blog for more than two years is Fletcher has followed the time-honored path of every successful screenwriter I have read about– and that is he wrote, and wrote, and wrote. So when you hear “First time screenwriter wins Oscar,” don’t forget the thousands of unproduced pages he wrote before that first script got produced.

Scott W. Smith


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