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Posts Tagged ‘Steven Zaillian’

“[Schindler’s List] was one of the most beautiful scripts I ever read. But you know, it was only after the film came out — 21 years ago this year — that we saw the really profound effect it had on audiences. And continues to have.”
Liam Neeson (who played Oskar Schindler) in an interview this month with Stephen Whitty.Oskar Schindler

“I don’t think there was any anticipation that Schindler’s List would become a big film, which is why they would entrust it to me. I remember quite vividly reading it for the first time, getting about two-thirds of the way through it, and praying there would be a decent third act. The thing I grabbed onto—which affected almost ever scene in it—was the idea of a man doing something that went against everything he thought he wanted. A reluctant hero.”
Oscar-winning Screenwriter Steven Zaillian of Schindler’s List
(The 7 time Oscar-winning 1993 movie Schindler’s List was based on the book with the same title written by Thomas Keneally)

It’s worth noting that while Oskar Schindler was a reluctant hero, he was still an active protagonist. Here’s a fitting quote from the post Making Dramatic Writing Dynamic: “Protagonists have to be active, they’re making their own fate all the time.”—Screenwriter Robin Swicord (Little Women)

And speaking of active protagonists, Steven Spielberg said the Oscar he won for directing Schindler’s List was not only his first Oscar win (more than 20 years after his first Oscar nomination), but the first Oscar statue he’d actually ever held in his life. Even for the great ones it takes a little time some times.

P.S. A few years after Schindler’s List was in theaters I had the opportunity to videotape two interviews of Holocaust survivors for the foundation that Steven Spielberg started (now known as the USC Shoah Foundation) to help preserve the stories of survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides. One of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had working in production.

steven-spielberg-dsc_0503-version-2

Related Post:
DAVID MAMET’S BOLD MEMO (?) From a screenwriting perspective Schindler’s List answers clearly Mamet’s first two questions every screenwriter should ask; Who want what and what happens if they don’t get it.
What’s at Stake? (tip #9)
Goal. Stakes. Urgency.” (Tip #60)
What’s at Stake? (David Wain) The stakes don’t always have to be life or death to be compelling.

Scott W. Smith

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