Posts Tagged ‘Lawrence Turman’

“We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do what is right.”
—Martin Luther King Jr.
Letter from a Birmingham Jail

Here are rare words from a Hollywood producer that could be accompanied by a Hammond organ:

“It may sound pretentious, but what I believe I really teach are values. Film is the conduit, the medium—not the message. I try to imbue my students with a strong desire to search out meaningful themes on pertinent, life-affirming subjects, to be true to and trust their own values, and to harness and hone them within the commercial film and television world; to value their hearts as much as their brains; and to be aware of the larger world, which can only enhance their chosen field and more importantly, their own lives. There can be meaningful work outside of the commercial mainstream. I encourage my students to pursue their dreams and to not be afraid of trying to inspire, to lead, to exalt. I passionately believe in the transforming power of beauty and art. Life is more important but, happily, art and life can be conjoined. How you live your life is more important than what you do in life.”
—Producer Lawrence Turman (The Graduate)
So You Want to Be a Producer
Page 10

Can I get an amen?

Perhaps the only thing more surprising than that paragraph being written by a Hollywood producer, is that Turman thought it was important enough to be included in the first ten pages of his book. And (at least when the book was published in 2005) Turman says that the very first seminar/lecture for students at The Peter Stark Producing Program at USC focuses on ethics.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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This mini-lesson from Lawrence Turman is from his 2005 book So You Want to be a Producer. Turman has produced over 40 films including The Graduate. At 93 he’s still professor and chair of the Peter Stark Producing Program at USC Cinematic Arts:

“The great Ernest Lehman began writing for New York press agents, and then moved on to short stories, one of which he sold to Hollywood, starting his movie career; the classic North by Northwest was his original. He gave me a important touchstone about script development: ‘Each scene should be an arrow into the next scene.’

“Think about that, and then think about it some more, and it will make great sense. Here’s the best example I know of: Three friends are having a heated discussion, which leads to an argument, during which one pulls a knife, stabs another, and then flees. That’s pretty damn dramatic, right? Wrong. It’s theatrical. But what would make the scene a dramatic arrow into the next scene would be for the remaining person, after the stabbing, to say, ‘I’m going to get that son of a bitch if it’s the last thing I do.’ Now people are leaning forward in their seats, saying, ‘Whoa. What’s he going to do? How’s he going to get him? What’s going to happen Next?’

—Lawrence Turman

P.S. Here’s an interview at Columbia College Hollywood where Turman talks about why they cut a scene from The Graduate that they’d shot at a great expense. (Followed by the scene itself.)

Scott W. Smith, author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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“I like strong narrative drive, even though some of my very favorite films are more internal and meandering, like The 400 Blows, Terms of Endearment, 8 1/2,  Wild Strawberries, or Lost in Translation. One of the greatest filmmakers to never win an Academy Award, Alfred Hitchcock, felt that making a movie was ,  ‘like telling a story to your seven-year-old niece, sitting on your knee. If at any point in the telling you stop, you want her to eagerly ask, ‘And then what happened?”

If you’re going to tell me a story about your first date, your first sexual encounter, you want it to be clear, compelling, and entertaining, and to have me, the listener, satisfied at the end. That satisfaction doesn’t have to mean happy; the classic movie A Man for All Seasons ends with the leading character, Sir Thomas More, being executed. But it’s an execution he chose rather than desert his personal beliefs of truth and justice. I, the audience, felt ennobled and enriched living through his experience.”

                              Lawerence Turman (producer of The Graduate)
                              So You Want to Be a Producer
                              Page 81

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