Posts Tagged ‘Peter Weir’

“Meet Seaside, the idyllic town on the Florida Panhandle known for its perfect beaches, pastel cottages, and the kind of laid-back vacations we Southerners adore.”
Jennifer Mckenzie Frazier
Southern Living

“As the Bard says, ‘all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.’ The only difference between Truman and ourselves is that his life is more throughly documented.”
Christof (Ed Harris)
The Truman Show


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…even in Seaside, Florida. I took the photos on this post earlier this month when driving through the panhandle of Florida. I’m a long-time fan of the Seaside community, and since it’s the day after Thanksgiving I am thankful that I’ve been able to visit the area a handful of times since it was established in 1981.

But even if you’d never even heard of Seaside, you may be familiar with the Jim Carrey movie that was shot there—The Truman Show (1998). If you’re college age or younger it may be hard to realize what made the Andrew Niccol script for The Truman Show so prophetic. But once upon a time there wasn’t Facebook, You Tube, and reality TV programing to give us a close up on the lives of everyday people.

The Truman Show—and its perfect town of Seahaven—was a look of where we might be headed as a culture. I’ll leave it up to scholars, sociologists, and you to decide if the future is here or not.

In the meantime, here’s a couple of buildings in Seaside that at least give you a hint of the fruit of developer Robert S. Davis and his wife Cathy, and the architectural firm Duany Plater—and Zyberk & Company have had in shaping a unique spot in the United States. The goal was to make a seaside community (the unincorporated community sits on the Gulf of Mexico west of Panama City Beach) that was beautiful in design, regionally centered, as well as being pedestrian and eco-friendly. Seaside was on the ground floor of what is now known as New Urbanism.


If there’s one downside to Seaside it’s that it worked. Idealism has its price. Most of the homes I saw listed for sale in Seaside fell in the range of 1 million to 6 million dollars.  If you ever happen to be looking for an idyllic place for a destination wedding check out the tallest building in Seaside—the nondenominational Seaside Interfaith Chapel.


P.S. In The Newmaket Shooting Script Series of The Truman Show, Peter Weir (Dead Poet’s Society, Witness) talked  about writing a backstory of how The Truman Show can into existence to prepare him for directing the film. I think Peter Weir is brilliant and it’s worth your time to read or watch anything he’s touched.

Related post: Postcard #70 (Greyton Beach) With two complete episodes said to be similar in essence to The Truman Show.

Scott W. Smith

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It’s a 3 for 1 quote Friday here at Screenwriting from Iowa. I came across these quotes late last night and they begged to be grouped together. (And you know how they get when they don’t get what they want.)

“I think for creative people generally, and certainly for film people, the biggest danger is success. Success will kill you, and extinguish you—your source of creativity. So you have to take risks.”
Writer/Director Peter Weir (Dead Poets Society, Green Card, The Truman Show)
Talk at the British Academy of Film and Television

“Only recently I was heard to mutter resentfully when The Diving Bell and the Butterfly received great acclaim at the Cannes film festival. Pathetic to admit, but my ego suffered a battering. The director was covered in glory, the screenplay hardly mentioned. And whose concept did the critics and the journalists think was at the heart of the movie? No prize for the answer. And no use complaining either. Another lesson: screenwriters should keep their egos under wraps.”
Oscar-Winning screenwriter Sir Ronald Harwood (The Pianist)
2007 article Ego? Forget about it

“For every writer I know that lives high on the hog I know twenty who buy their bacon at Costco.”
Josh Friedman (War of the Worlds)
From his blog I find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing

2/12/11 Update: In the comments Carla said perhaps success needed to be re-defined and John said I should move my answer into the post so here it is:

Carla–It’s always healthy give your version of success an examination from time to time.

There are some wonderfully tragic stories (real and fictional) of people who flew too close to the sun with their wax wings. It’s also good to remember that those who climb to the top of Mt. Everest only get to stay there for five minutes.

Screenwriter Josh Friedman also writes,”Whatever else the A-list (of screenwriters) is, it’s written with disappearing ink.”

Scott W. Smith

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Director Peter Weir grew up far from Hollywood (and has chosen to live far from Hollywood), but that hasn’t stopped him from being nominated for six Oscars on such films as Dead Poet’s Society, The Truman Show, and Witness. He was born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia and sees that as an asset.

“There was really no culture here when I was growing up. No great collections of paintings, and very little in the way of philanthropists, such as in your country, who would take their ill-gotten gains and spend it on art as their way of atoning. It sounds curious to say, but the landscape, nature itself, was probably the biggest influence on me, particularly being here in this great empty country and living by the sea as I did. I think that was my art gallery. It was an era when children were always ordered outside, and you could just wander off, go down to the bay. Boredom can be a tremendous advantage for anybody with imagination.”
Director Peter Weir
DGA Quarterly

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The 1985 film Witness is one of those movie that pops up again and again in screenwriting books as a fine example of writing. But like Rain Man there are a lot of reasons why the film works and it is an example of a collaboration at it’s best. It was a perfect storm of talent and it resulted in an Oscar award for writers Earl Wallace, William Wallace and Pamela Wallace.

Helping the film become a classic was the direction of Peter Weir, the acting and personna of Harrison Ford, and a wonderful crew that helped the tone of the film set largely in Amish country. Many were nominated for their work on the film, John Seale (Best Cinematography), Maurice Jarre (Best Music, Orginal Score) and Stan Jolly and John H. Anderson (Best Art Direction-Set Direction). And Thom Noble picked up the Oscar for Best Film Editing.

But according to David S. Cohen’s book Screen Plays it all started with a simple story idea from Pamela; “A contemporary cop falls in love with an Amish women.” Earl and William who had written for the old TV show Gunsmoke fleshed the story out and after 16 versions had a well tuned script. Neither had ever written with a partner before and neither had ever had a feature film produced.

There were creative battles fought during the making of the film but at the end of the day it all came together and they made a film that resonated with audiences and the Academy. No small feat. Then the storm was gone. Cohen writes that, yes they won an Academy Award, “Yet the writing team of Wallace and Kelly got no career boost from the success of Witness.” In fact, they had a fall out of sorts and went their separate ways.

The creative process is odd and messy and it’s nice to get a glimpse behind the scene of a script that not only found the light, but that still shines bright almost 25 years later.  Cohen writes, “The film was nosed out for best picture by Out of Africa—the film that gave Kurt Luedtke his Oscar. But Kelly and Wallace won, and from the podium Wallace got off one of the more memorable lines in Oscar acceptance speech history: ‘I have the uneasy feeling my career just peaked.'”

Your career has to peak somewhere — it might as well be at the Academy Awards.

Scott W. Smith

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