Screenwriting 101: Garry Marshall

April 28th, 2015 by

screenplay“My main mentor was Carl Reiner because he took the time to explain stories. ‘You know,’ he said, ‘if you just use your imagination, you’ll be selling shoes in three week. You gotta look at life and tell me what happened every day and take what’s going on in life. And if you don’t have an interesting life, then steal someone else’s. Don’t ever say something is boring. Whoever you meet, you ask them questions about their life and find out.’ And that’s how I learned to write stories.”

— Garry Marshall (Written By, April | May 2015)

Screenwriting 101: Ron Shelton

April 21st, 2015 by

“When I pitch, I pitch like Roger Clemens or brush them back like Sal Maglie used to do. I’m throwing everything I’ve got at them from the moment I walk in the office, even if I don’t look like it. The most important thing is which piece of furniture you sit on. Never sit on the couch. Then the executive sits on the chair and he’s higher than you. Second, when the secretary asks if you want something to drink, always say yes. You’re conditioning them into giving you what you want. Don’t say you’ll take anything: tell them you want a Coke… in a glass… with ice. You have to be specific. That tells them you know what you’re doing. You’re setting the tone. After all, you hope you’re going to be working with them for a couple of hundred grand by the end of the meeting. Pitches deal with concepts. Good scripts deal with characters. They’re different animals.”

— Ron Shelton (NY Times, May 3, 1992)

Screenwriting 101: Geoff LaTulippe

April 14th, 2015 by

“If something funny or scary or interesting happens to me, the first thing I think is, ‘Can I turn that into a script?’ Which I think makes me kind of a concept whore, but I’m OK with that.”

— Geoff LaTulippe (Go Into The Story interview, May 17, 2014)

Screenwriting 101: John Cassavetes

April 7th, 2015 by

“People who are making films today are too concerned with mechanics—technical things instead of feeling. Execution is about eight percent to me. The technical quality of a film doesn’t have much to do with whether it’s a good film. I feel like vomiting when some director says to me, “I got the most gorgeous shot today.” That is not what’s important. We have to move beyond the current obsession with technique or angles. It’s a waste of time. A movie is a lot more than a series of shots. You’re doing a bad job if all you’re paying attention to is camera angles: “All right, how can we photograph it? We’ll get the lab to do some special effects there. Say, let’s use a hand-held camera for this shot.” You end up making a film that is all tricks, with no people in it, no knowledge of life. There is nothing left for the actor to bring to it since there is no sense, meaning, or understanding of people… Art films aren’t necessarily photography. It’s feeling. If we can capture a feeling of a people, of a way of life, then we made a good picture.”

— John Cassavetes

Via A Bittersweet Life

Screenwriting 101: Justin Zackham

March 31st, 2015 by

“For me, screenwriting is all about setting characters in motion and as a writer just chasing them. They should tell you what they’ll do in any scene you put them in.”

— Justin Zackham

Screenwriting 101: John Gary

March 24th, 2015 by

“Screenwriting is an ocean of nos surrounding a handful of yesses. All you need is one yes.”

— John Gary

Screenwriting 101: Caroline Thompson

March 17th, 2015 by

“I’m not romantic at all about the creative process. More than anything else, I’ve felt like a plow horse–just one foot in front of the other. I do believe that when it’s working really well, it’s not me–it’s coming from someplace else, and I don’t know where that place is. I only do one project at a time… In the morning, I go to my office and write five script pages every day. People think, ‘That’s not very much.” Well, if I write more–if I get into a big blaze and I write 15 pages–my brain’s exhausted, so then I don’t write for four or five days, and my rhythm gets completely thrown off. So I’ve learned over the years that if I do my five pages a day, I have a first draft in about a month.”

— Caroline Thompson (FlimCraft | Screenwriting, P. 172)

Screenwriting 101: Whit Stillman

March 10th, 2015 by

“Very often with my favorite books, I can put them down and I don’t need to go back to them for a very long time. I’m just very, very happy with the experience of being within them. I love Raymond Chandler–I mean, I’m not that concerned about his plot–but I love the world of Raymond Chandler and think it’s fascinating. So when it comes to my own films, I guess we’re prisoners of our preferences–maybe I just don’t know how to make my plots terribly propulsive. Still, it really amazes me when some critics go on and on about the ‘narrative momentum’ in a story and complain that it ‘slows down’ at a certain point. I mean, God, are they children? Essentially, substituting a reductive standard for a higher aspiration. If the observation is right, and funny or interesting things are happening right along, yes, it’s not gonna be fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat entertainment. But it can be working.”

— Whit Stillman (FilmCraft | Screenwriting, P. 148)

Screenwriting 101: Wes Anderson

March 3rd, 2015 by

“When I’m on a movie, part of that process is creating a setting for the story and a world that they live in. That’s the kind of movie that I like to make, where there is an invented reality and the audience is going to go someplace where hopefully they’ve never been before. The details, that’s what the world is made of. Those are the paints.”

— Wes Anderson (Vanity Fair, June 2012)

Screenwriting 101: Billy Ray

February 24th, 2015 by

“Here’s my day. I wake my kids up in the morning, I take my son to his bus stop at 7:30. I’m at my desk at eight. Somebody feeds me at one. I’m back at my desk at 1:30 and I write till five or six. My nights and my weekends belong to my family. I don’t surf the web when I’m supposed to be writing–I don’t look at porn, and I don’t gamble on some offshore site. I don’t do anything stupid–I just work all day. If you do that, you can get a lot done. I don’t spend three hours a day at Starbucks. I don’t consult my muse. I just work. I just try to solve problems all day long. I don’t know another way to approach it. And I can feel when the solutions I’m coming up with are functioning and I can feel when they’re not. You know the difference–you can’t kid yourself. At the top of my computer in big, bold letters, it says, ‘What is the simple emotional journey?’ That’s what I look at on my computer monitor all the time. When I get into a jam I just think, ‘Okay, what’s the story I’m telling? What’s the emotional journey that I’m telling?'”

— Billy Ray (FilmCraft | Screenwriting, P. 139)