One of the best ways to learn the craft is read what professional screenwriters have to say about it. To that end for the next few weeks, I will be featuring interviews I have conducted with Black List screenwriters.
Today: Early in 2015, I had the opportunity to interview screenwriter Gary Whitta whose movie credits include The Book of Eli (2010), After Earth (2013), and the upcoming Star Wars: Rogue One (2016), and had recently seen his first novel “Abomination” published. Gary and I had a wide-ranging conversation touching on a host of subjects which I think readers will find quite interesting.
Here are links to the six installments of my July 2015 interview with Gary:
Part 1: “I mean, some writers, they go to film school and they have a formal entryway into the film industry. But for the majority of people, it’s not like that. It’s a combination of having a dream, having a persistence to pursue the thing that you want to do, and a bit of luck and being in the right place at the right time as well.”
Part 2: “You’re always looking for that balance between art and commerce. For me, it needs to be an idea that I can get creatively excited about, while also having the confidence that at the end of the process it has enough commercial appeal to actually sell it and see it get made.”
Part 3: “I often have a hard time writing a piece until it has a title. I was very lucky with Eli that the title suggested itself to me quite early and I always loved it and I always felt exactly as you say, it has a cool double meaning to it when you get to the twist ending.”
Part 4: “People often forget, Star Wars started as a spec script. Every big franchise started with an original piece of material.”
Part 5: “If you have any ambition to see your story realized as a big movie, something that is not going to be super‑cheap to make, I do think you have be able to boil that idea down into one or two sentences that makes people say, ‘I would see that movie'”.
Part 6: “Allow yourself to experiment, to bend and break the rules you’ve learned. The more that you try to adhere to some kind of screenwriting formula, the more likely you are to end up with a formulaic screenplay, and who wants that?”
To learn more about Gary’s 400 page historical fantasy novel “Abomination,” go here.
Gary is repped by UTA and Circle of Confusion.