In Hollywood development circles, Brian Duffield is a popular figure. As evidence, two of his original screenplays have made the Black List: Your Bridesmaid is a Bitch and Jane Got a Gun, putting him on the 10 Screenwriters to Watch in 2013 list. In addition, he sold his spec script Monster Problems to Paramount in 2012 and has written on a big budget franchise movie: Insurgent. And if that’s not enough, Duffield is slated to make his debut as a director on his own script Vivien Hasn’t Been Herself Lately.
Brian is an active presence on Twitter (you should definitely follow him: @BrianDuffield) and we’ve gotten to know each other over the years, so I was pleased to have the chance to interview him.
Here are links to the six installments of the entire interview.
Part 1: “It’s like learning the guitar, where you learn three or four chords, and you play Bob Dylan and Oasis songs. Then eventually start to realize that you can put your own chords together and make your own songs. That’s how I slipped into screenwriting.”
Part 2: “If it’s not that personal to me then I can’t expect it to connect. I can’t expect some reader to respond to it if I’m not responding to it on a personal level. I think probably why people like my writing is because they connect with it.”
Part 3: “I try to talk to my parents in Ireland every couple of weeks. There was one call where nothing was happening in my life, and I was really in debt and kind of miserable. Then by the next call I had sold a screenplay to Skydance.”
Part 4: “It was a very surreal experience where I get to see trailers of my characters doing things before I’ve written things for them to do. I went to set and saw everyone in costume on set. It was bizarre.”
Part 5: “I find that by starting with theme, you instantly gravitate towards a character who is almost at an opposite place to deal with that theme, and then throw them into the movie and see what happens.”
Part 6: “The biggest piece of advice is really, if you are a writer, finding producers who are actually producers because there is nothing more damaging to you or your writing than producers that are only that in name. Find producers that will fight on your side.”
Brian is repped by Gersh and Circle of Confusion.