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Posts Tagged ‘Steve Jobs’

“You had me at hello.“
Dorothy Boyd (Rene Zellweger) in Jerry Maguire

Most of the time, me writing looks—to the untrained eye—like someone watching ESPN. The truth is if you did a pie chart of the writing process, most of the time is spent thinking. When you’re loaded up and ready to go—when you’ve got that intention and obstacle for the first scene that’s all you need.  For me at least, getting started is 90% of the battle. The difference between page zero and page two is all the difference in the world. So once I had the technical jargon to write [the ‘Hello’ scene in the movie Steve Jobs] and I also knew that scene would take us into a dressing room of some kind. . . . In the dressing room I knew they were going to talk about the overinflated projections and managing expectations, and that was going to get us into Time magazine, which was going to get us into paternity. I was able to see that far ahead. So once I knew everything about what I was doing—once I start typing it’s not going to be finger-painting, I’m not just going to be feeling my way in the dark and ‘let’s see where these characters take me.’ . . . Once you do know what you’re doing—for me, it’s intention and obstacle, for you it could be something else. You do understand there isn’t one way of doing this, right? Whatever way works for you is the right way, for me it’s intention and obstacle. Once you have that, there does come a time when you actually now are ready for your talent to take over. Start writing. Do your thing.”
Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, A Few Good Men)
The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith

Related post:
Aaron Sorkin on Theme, Intention, and Obstacles

Scott W. Smith

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“Andy Hertzfeld’s reaction to the movie [Steve Jobs] was probably the most accurate—‘My god, none of that happened, but it’s all true.’”
Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin

This post is three years behind the times since the movie Steve Jobs came out in 2015, so I’m going to begin at the end. So if you haven’t seen it—spoiler alert. But since Jobs’ daughter, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, had her memoir Smal Fry recently published this seems like perfect timing.

In The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith (which is a favorite podcast of mine), Goldsmith does a great job of interviewing Aaron Sorkin about his process of writing the screenplay.

Jeff Goldsmith: Here’s one of the toughest challenges to writing [the screenplay for Steve Jobs], because Isaacson’s book [Steve Jobs] was very clear about [Steve] Jobs having a not so friendly side to him. And you’re writing a story where your protagonist is also your antagonist, and that is not an easy feat. So what were your challenges as a writer? Because audiences love Steve Jobs, but not everybody has read that book yet. For some people, this is new news—this dark side. Part of your task is to get the audience to engage with your characters. And I think you did it, but it’s a tough balancing act to show the dark and the light together and have us care. So what were the challenges in doing that for Jobs?

Aaron: Well, the biggest challenge for sure—I’ll forgive a lot, I was not able to get past his denying paternity of Lisa and the way he treated her. Lisa was the one who got me past that. Now I found the emotional center of the story, because I’m not getting that emotional about the computer that won’t say hello. Here’s the emotional center of the story . . .  she would tell me stories about her father that often weren’t the most flattering stories about him. But she would always at the end of the story, turn it like a prism for me, and say, ‘But you can see how he really did love me.’ Because think about this and this and this. . . .The rest of it goes back to don’t judge the character. See how much you can identify with that character. And I can [identify with Steve Jobs]. . . . It’s not hard for me understanding Steve wanting end-to-end control of all his stuff. ‘Here, you get to buy it or not. I’ve made this thing, but I don’t want you messing with it’ . . .  

While Jobs is not the most sympathetic person to write about, Sorkin said he was looking for a way that showed Jobs change “even just a little bit.” In the closing scene, he does that. Though he’s clear that not everyone liked the ending. One lady at a Q&A in San Francisco even asked Sorkin if he was pressured by the studio or director into writing the final scene with Lisa that humanized Jobs and Sorkin replied he wrote, “exactly the scene I wanted to write.” Goldsmith said it was the right ending.

Goldsmith: Characters need redemption. And if you did a movie like this without a scene like that that where there was absolutely no redemption whatsoever there would be—

Sorkin:—I couldn’t agree more. The story of the movie is Will Steve and his daughter get together? The fact is that in real life they did find each other isn’t even the reason why I did it. Although I like it’s supportable by facts. I did it because I don’t just think there’s a movie if you don’t do it. I think what you’d have is a theater full of people saying, ‘Why did you make me sit here for two hours?’

Related posts:
Insanely Great Endings
What’s Changed?
Martin Luther King Jr. and Writing Strong-Willed Characters
Emotion-Emotion-Emotion
The Major or Central Dramatic Question

Scott W. Smith

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“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
Steve Jobs

Enough about all these Indiana Jones posts I’ve been writing lately, today I’m pulling a quote from Iowa’s Ashton Kutcher.  The one that when I last checked was the highest paid TV star. Forbes estimated his May 2011 to May 2012 earnings were $24 million dollars. The actor who not only stars in Two and A Half Men, but plays Steve Jobs in the just released feature Jobs (2013). And another of his side jobs (no pun intended) is as a spokesman for Nikon cameras.

Busy guy. Successful guy. Here’s what the Iowa born and raised Kutcher had to say the other night at the Teen Choice Awards:

“In Hollywood and in the industry and the stuff we do there are a lot of insider secrets to keeping your career going. And a lot of insider secrets to making things tick…I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work. When I was 13 I had my first job with my dad carrying shingles up to the roof. And then I got a job washing dishes at a restaurant. And then I got a job in a grocery store deli. And then I got a job in a factory sweeping Cheerios dust off the ground. And I’ve never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job. And every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job. And  I never quit my job until I had my next job. And so opportunities look a lot like work.”
Ashton Kutcher

A few years ago I did a video shoot for Ogilvy Public Relations at the PEPSICO/Quaker Oats factory in Cedar Rapids where Kutcher swept the floors. One worker there told me, “All I do at my job is watch Life go by.” (As in Life cereal.) Great line.

P.S. Opportunity looked a lot like work to Steve Jobs as well. Here’s the trailer for Jobs (where Ashton Kutcher looks a lot like Steve Jobs) :

Related Quotes:
Steve Jobs (1955-2011)
Making A Name For Yourself 101
Screenwriter’s Work Ethic (Tip #2)
Sneaky Long Screenwriting “I’m Zack Johnson and I’m from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. That’s about it, I’m a normal guy.”
Kurt Warner…What a Story (Super Bowl MVP from Cedar Rapids.)
Beatles, Cody, King & 10,000 Hours
The Juno-Iowa Connection (Kutcher attended the same college as Diablo Cody—The University of Iowa)

Scott W. Smith

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If you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling books The Tipping Point and Blink then you are familiar with his interesting way of looking at the world. You may not always agree with his conclusions, but his observations are always thought provoking. His recent book Outilers is no different. In fact, it is the perfect book for this blog and I will write about it more in the coming days.

But if you are not familiar with Outliers, or even Galdwell, I wanted to make sure they both got on your radar. The subtitle to Outliers is The Story of Success. Galdwell looks at why an usually high number of the top hockey players are born in January, February, and March. Why Hamberg, Germany played a key role in developing the talent of the Beatles. And why being born on or around 1955 was important to be a computer wiz like Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Steve Jobs. 

“People don’t rise from nothing. We do owe something to parentage and patronage. The people who stand before kings may look like they did it themselves. But the fact they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot. It makes a difference where and when we grew up. The culture we belong to and the legacies passed down by our forebears shape the patterns of our achievment in ways we cannot begin to imagine. It’s not enough to ask what successful people are like, in other words. It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn’t.”

We’ll look more into this beginning tomorrow with a special Q&A with Colin Covert, the film critic for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. One cannot ignore the fact that two films in the that two years that  have made over $100 million at the box office (Juno & Gran Torino) were written by writers in the Minneapolis area.

Related post: Screenwriting Jamaican-Olympic Style

Update: I just decided at random  to see when three of the top all-time pro hockey players (off the time of my head) were born and Gladwell’s research was on the money;  Wayne Gretzky (January), Bobby Orr (March), Gordie Howe (March).  I think Gladwell, and those whose he reports on who have done research in this area, are on to something. 

 

Scott W. Smith

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