Interview: Julia Hart (2012 Black List) — Part 4

February 21st, 2013 by

Julia Hart’s original screenplay “The Keeping Room” put her on the Black List in 2012. The movie is in pre-production starring Olivia Wilde, Hailee Steinfeld, and Nicole Beharie, directed by Daniel Barber. In addition, Hart’s screenplay “Miss Stevens” recently landed Anna Faris to star and Ellen Page to direct. Plus Hart is adapting the Jamie McGuire novel “Beautiful Disaster” for Warner Bros.

Julia and I had a great one-hour conversation covering a lot of territory. Today in Part 4, Julia discusses two more projects she has in the works.

Scott:  It was recently announced you’re adapting a novel “Beautiful Disaster” for Warner Brothers. The plot is described this way: “A New York Times Best Sellers, story revolves around a young woman trying to leave her past behind, start a clean‑cut life when she goes to college. Her plans are disrupted by a young man described as a walking one‑night‑stand, who makes a bet with her. If she loses, she must live in his apartment. If he loses, he must abstain from his fun‑loving ways for a month.” That’s a far cry from the story universe of “The Keeping Room,” so what attracted you to “Beautiful Disaster”?

Julia:  It’s a funny description because it’s a very violent and sexy story. I think those were two elements that really drew me to it. The male character’s an underground fighter and there’s lots of fights in the film. There’s also some really, some sex scenes that were really different, interesting, and fun to write. Also, a lot of those types of stories or those types of movies, again, are about a good girl being drawn in by a bad boy. What I like about this story is that she has a past of her own and she has a dark side and it’s not black and white.

I like the idea of getting to write that type of female character and that type of male character. I haven’t written many male characters, so that felt like an interesting challenge. As I said earlier, I find love scenes really hard to write, so it’s been a great challenge for me.

Scott:  Based on these two projects, is it fair to say you want to write a wide variety of stories? Or do you see yourself zeroing in on one genre area?

Julia:  I really like writing really different things. I have another spec floating around out there…

Scott:  Is that “Miss Stevens”?

Julia:  Yes, which is also very different. I love so many different kinds of movies. I’m really excited that I can experiment with a bunch of different genres. I think the one through thread thus far is that they all have complex female protagonists. I love writing about them. I love figuring out what they do and what they say. Other than that, I think my different scripts don’t really have much in common.

Scott:  Let’s hope we’re at a tipping point on that, or at least we’re in an arc toward more female leads.

Julia:  I hope so. I’m excited about being a part of a world that puts more women in hero roles. I’m excited to write more stuff like that. “Keeping Room” has whet my whistle for it. I would love to write a big female action movie. I recently re-watched, “Alien,” and, “Aliens,” and I just wish there were more characters like Ripley.

Scott:  Speaking of female leads, what’s going on with another of your spec scripts “Miss Stevens?”

Julia:  I’m hoping we’re going to get something announced on it sooner rather than later. We have an actress attached for the lead, and a director.

Scott:  OK. And could you tell us what the log line on that is, or is that…we have to keep that secret?

Julia:  No, I think I can talk about it [laughs] .

Scott:  So what’s the story?

Julia: It is inspired by my days as a teacher, but she’s not me and the school isn’t my school. It’s a lot of invention for the sake of drama. It’s about this hapless, but lovable  teacher whose life is a mess who chaperones a group of students on a weekend trip to a state drama competition. It’s all about how her relationships with her students ultimately help her figure things out.

Scott:  That sounds fun.

Julia:   High jinx and mayhem ensue.

Scott:  Yes [laughs] . Your husband is Jordan Horowitz, movie producer, and his credits include, “Kids are All Right,” and the upcoming Matthew Weiner movie, “You Are Here.” He’s a producer on, “The Keeping Room.” Could you describe what your working relationship is like? How actively involved is Jordan in your writing process?

Julia:  Very, very active. Nothing leaves the house without his seal of approval. Some of the best moments in the scripts are his. We sort of have the perfect… like our skill sets are perfectly complementary in terms of what the scripts need in order to be something that we’re happy with, and he’s so good at story. And I had other writers tell me that, I assumed it was true, but it’s been really fun getting to experience your partner’s talent firsthand. I’m so lucky to have someone who’s so talented and honest and always has my best interest at heart.

As noted above “Miss Stevens” is going forward with Ellen Page to direct and Anna Faris to star.

Tomorrow in Part 5, Julia talks about her approach to the craft of screenwriting.

Please stop by comments to thank Julia for taking the time for the interview and post any follow-up questions you may have.

For Part 1, go here.

For Part 2, go here.

For Part 3, go here.

Julia is repped by WME and Anonymous Content.

4 thoughts on “Interview: Julia Hart (2012 Black List) — Part 4

  1. Jon says:

    Thanks for the great interview, guys.

    Question for you Julia- when you said you were “also scared because the first draft was 65 pages”, in what ways did it grow longer in subsequent drafts?

    Really appreciate all you’ve shared.

  2. juliahart says:

    Hi Jon –

    Most of the expansion had to with character development. Adding scenes for supporting characters to enrich them. Expanding current scenes to allow the audience to learn more about the main characters. Things like that. Very rarely does it have to do with adding elements to the plot. The plot was all there in the 65 pages – I just needed to deepen and expand the characters. And now it’s 90 pages, which is still pretty short :) Hope this response was helpful and thanks for your question!

  3. Jon says:

    Got it, thanks Julia- twas helpful indeed!

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