Great Writers: Another set of stunning photos from everyday_i_show
‘A writer moves about, observing, seeing as much as he can, trying to guess how man will play the game,’ Ray Bradbury stated in A Writer’s Life, a documentary on his life and work from 1963. —‘A Writer’s Life’: Ray Bradbury on writing and the importance of the subconscious
By popular demand, Maria Popova put together a reading list of all the famous advice on writing presented at brainpickings.org over the years, featuring words of wisdom from such masters of the craft as Kurt Vonnegut, Susan Sontag, Henry Miller, Stephen King, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Susan Orlean, Ernest Hemingway, Zadie Smith, and more. Enjoy:
Mr. Goldstein unveiled a passion project yesterday, trying to help people either establish their career or further enhance it:
I would greatly appreciate if you could take a look and support this amazing project. Let’s make it happen!
Your film, The Mothman Prophecies, was rejected by every major Hollywood studio; what was your deal-clincher, after hearing your last “No”?
Understanding that ‘no’ is just a conversation starter, and that while persistence is the only thing that wins the day, sometimes a ‘no’ is a clue or signal to take a deeper cut, tell a richer, more persuasive or moving story that comes more purely from your heart, guts, viscera (your truth zone) and less from your intellect (your ‘above the neck’ zone). Focus less on the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ or other less personal facets and shine your brighter light (the ‘who’ and ‘why’) – why this story so deeply moves you, why you had to write it and are the only one who could’ve written this story, why it’s so emotionally powerful and will be so alluring to actors, audiences, and filmmakers. Tell the story behind the story. —Drive Your Writing Career with the Pros: An Interview with Gary W. Goldstein
I just hope these people stay persistent because sometimes it’s six or eight scripts before they have that great script. All the people they admire went through these things and had adversity. Oliver Stone wrote 10 scripts before he wrote Platoon which got him all of his first jobs which got him Midnight Express and then he waited 10 years to get Platoon made… I attended all these (film industry) functions, the classes and the bookstores reading all the time. I have a 10,000-book library in my house from collecting books over the years. Young writers and beginning writers need to stay persistent and understand what the odds are against them succeeding.
Salerno made the transition to features at 23 when Steven Spielberg hired him to adapt the World War II submarine thriller ‘Thunder Below’ based on the book by Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Eugene B. Fluckey. Salerno’s first feature film script was also one of the earliest projects put into development by the newly formed DreamWorks Pictures. In an April 29, 1999 article in Variety, Salerno stated that he went to “writing school” under Spielberg.
He got a jump start in the business when he made an award winning documentary in high school that landed him on Larry King Live. That opened the door for him at age 19 as an apprentice on the TV program NYPD Blue. Salerno likes to stress that he was raised by a single mother, didn’t come from money, and never went to college. —Scott W. Smith
At the age of twenty-four he co-wrote the worldwide blockbuster Armageddon, which became the highest-grossing film of 1998. He most recently co-wrote and executive produced Savages directed by Oliver Stone. He has also written and produced television including the Golden Globe nominated Hawaii Five-0 for CBS, (2010–present), co-created and executive produced UC: Undercover for NBC (2000-2002) and began as a writer for Fox’s New York Undercover (1995-1998). He is the producer and director of the forthcoming documentary Salinger about reclusive author J. D. Salinger which will be released theatrically by The Weinstein Company on September 6, 2013 and then premiere as the 200th episode of American Masters in January, 2014. His first book (with David Shields), The Private War of J. D. Salinger will be released by Simon & Schuster in September, 2013.
Winslow and Salerno have known each other for a long time — thirteen years to be exact. They have worked together, including creating the NBC TV series UC: Undercover, trust each other implicitly and often exchange early drafts of their work and talk on the phone every day, usually about film adaptations of Winslow’s work which Salerno produces. At our request, Salerno rang up his buddy Winslow who was in the middle of a cross-country book tour and interviewed the acclaimed crime writer about his life and work. —Don Winslow, Interviewed by Shane Salerno
You dedicated The Kings of Cool to Shane Salerno, your co-screenwriter on “Savages.” Why was that relationship so significant?
DW: I met Shane maybe thirteen years ago when we were working on a TV show called “UC: Undercover.” I was an admirer of his work and we became good buddies. I would tell him what was going on with my books vis a vis film and he would offer some pretty sage counsel. He has a company called Story Factory that is all about the nexus between film and book. So when I started to write Savages I sent the first fourteen pages to Shane in an e-mail saying, ‘Either I’m completely crazy or this is pretty good.’ And he wrote back in half an hour and said, ‘Drop everything else you’re doing and finish this while you’re in this headspace.’ We was enthralled with this from literally day one and we decided to work on the screenplay together. Shane had the idea of going outside the studio system to get the thing made with Oliver. So he’s been really essential and when I sat down to write The Kings of Cool, I thought I should dedicate it to him. —On ‘Savages,’ Oliver Stone, and Screenwriting: An Interview with Author Don Winslow
Detour Magazine voted him one of “Hollywood’s true shapers of popular culture” and Fade In Magazine, selected Salerno as one of the “100 people you need to know in Hollywood”. Future projects include a feature adaptation of The Power Of The Dog, the epic Don Winslow bestseller framed around the drug war and a 30-year struggle between a hard DEA agent and a family of cartel kingpins in Mexico, Doomsday Protocol, which Shane sold as a spec in Sept. 2008, Goodnight Dorothy Kilgallen, Untitled Shane Salerno/Kurtzman-Orci Project, Untitled James Cameron Project, and The Last Run. Suffice to say Shane is a busy young man — and he also has a most interesting backstory which you can read about here.
Salerno financed the film out of his pocket, interviewed 150 sources, and accumulated so much information that he collaborated on a 700-page companion book with bestselling author David Shields. The 150 sources interviewed in the film either worked with Salinger at The New Yorker or had contact with him otherwise, or were greatly influenced by him. The famous names include Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, John Cusack, Danny DeVito, John Guare, Martin Sheen, David Milch, Robert Towne, Tom Wolfe, E.L. Doctorow, A. Scott Berg, Elizabeth Frank, Gore Vidal, and many other fans, journalists, filmmakers, playwrights, and artists inspired by Salinger’s work. Salerno went into the documentary expecting it to be a 6-month project. But it grew into a five-year obsession. During that time, the screenwriter made several 7-figure deals for such projects as the Fox sci-fi fantasy Doomsday Protocol, and the Paramount/Skydance action-comedy License to Steal. So Salerno plowed several million dollars of that money into the documentary, working nights and weekends, and hiring the likes of Buddy Squires, the cinematographer for every Ken Burns documentary.
“He somehow understood in 1951 the corrosive effect that fame and money could have on his writing. He was singular, and in this Internet age where people pursue their 15 minutes of fame, nobody did what Salinger did: living in the woods in New Hampshire, writing to please only himself. The biggest challenge was, how far do you pull back the curtain on a mythic figure while preserving his legacy? We answered some questions, but other Salinger mysteries will remain unsolved.” The obvious question is: did Salerno get Salinger on camera? He would not tell me. But I’ve learned there’s a 5-minute section of the film that was held out of early screenings for security reasons. —Secret J.D. Salinger Documentary & Book, Now Revealed
The Weinstein Company (TWC) has set a September 6 theatrical release for the film. This was one of the most unusual deals in awhile, and came after Harvey Weinstein, David Glasser and the acquisition team were shown the film on the morning of the Academy Awards. TWC was the only distributor that saw the finished film, and closed the deal right after. Salerno and his lawyer Robert Offer made three big deals for the movie, showing it only to parties that made deals, which allowed the filmmaker to avoid any leakage of revelations in the film that might have resulted with a screening for multiple buyers.
It was first shown to American Masters, which quickly closed a 7-figure licensing deal to make it the 200th installment of that prestigious series early next year. It was then shown to Jon Karp and his editors from Simon & Schuster, and right after they saw it, they closed a 7-figure publishing deal for a biography that Salerno wrote with David Shields. So the movie has played three times, and resulted in deals north of $5 million, making it one of the richest pacts ever for a feature documentary. It took Salerno eight years and $2 million of his own money to make the movie and the book happen.
Commenting on the deal, Salerno said: “I have the greatest respect for The Weinstein Company and the remarkable quality and consistency of the films they produce. I am honored to be working with them on what is for me an eight year labor of love.” “Shane Salerno has created a haunting piece of documentary filmmaking in SALINGER,” said TWC Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein. “We are in awe of the painstaking detail used in depicting a man who created truly timeless works of literature, but otherwise remained an enigma for so many years.” —Mike Fleming Jr
A truly amazing story on so many levels. As Rod Tidwell said in Jerry Maguire, ‘Yeah, man, it means love, respect, community… and the dollars too. The whole package. The kwan.’ Shane Salerno and Don Winslow are huge fans of Cinephilia and Beyond. I’m honored and humbled by their support, and even endless thanks cannot express my gratitude. I would greatly appreciate if you would all immediately follow them on Twitter: @SecretSalinger @donwinslow
“Not to be preachy about it, but discipline is everything for a working writer, at least for this one. I can’t just wander around fields of flowers or sit brooding in coffee houses waiting for the muse to land on my shoulder and whisper in my ear. That would nice, but it ain’t gonna happen. I treat writing like a factory job — the whistle blows and I’m at work. This thing always comes down to someone sitting down with some kind of writing instrument and getting it done.” —Don Winslow
Previously on Cinephilia and Beyond:
A nice collection of PDF scripts for your reading pleasure. With thanks to:
The WSF is a not-for-profit writers support group, organized to provide educational, networking, and marketing support for individuals interested in learning the craft and business of screenwriting.
Enjoy, read, and learn…
(NOTE: For educational purposes only)
Over the past few years we’ve been fortunate to have met various well-known and well-respected screenwriters on both sides of the Atlantic. On these pages are a collection of some of the interviews. They are divided up into two categories: New York Conversations and The Storytellers. New York Conversations are comprised of four interviews with American screenwriters that were published in a book of the same name. The Storytellers are interviews featuring in an upcoming documentary about Europe’s legendary screenwriters. Six legends who have written over 400 feature films between them.
Learn from the greats. Be inspired by the legends.
David Mamet on storytelling and directing.
How many passes does it take to create perfect dialogue?
That’s a really good question. I’m not sure I know the answer. I do it fairly spontaneously, and then sometimes, for various reasons, it has to be recrafted. I used to be really good at that, but it gets more difficult as I get older just because my brain is failing. I have less brain cells because long before any of you guys were born, there was something called the ‘60s. That’s where the brain cells were. —The Writer’s Craft: A David Mamet Interview
Previously on Cinephilia and Beyond:
I would say just start writing. You’ve got to write every day. Copy someone that you like if you think that perhaps could become your sound too. I did that with Hemingway, and I thought I was writing just like Hemingway. Then all of a sudden it occurred to me, he didn’t have a sense of humor. I don’t know anything he’s written that’s funny.
Unfortunately, people believe that their first thing should be great. Writing is like anything else. You’re not supposed to write a page and expect it to be good. You have to write a thousand pages and expect it to be good. It’s as if we were training for the 20-yard-dash, and instead of waiting until we’d trained before we ran, we invite everyone to our first practice, and of course, we fall flat on our face.
Oscar-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind)
The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters by Karl Iglesias
Written By Magazine Nov/Dec 2012 issue:
- Taming the Tiger
Life of Pi could never be a movie — until Ang Lee called David Magee
- Persistence of Vision
by Louise Farr
In the searing documentary West of Memphis, Amy Berg and Billy McMillin expose criminal injustice
- Darkness Made Visible
Rape in the American military has metastasized to epidemic proportions, proved by Kirby Dick’s The Invisible War
Also in the Nov./Dec. 2012 issue: Zero Dark Thirty’s Mark Boal on the hunt for Osama bin Laden, the open window, and the blank screen.
David Mamet’s guidelines for screenwriting: In a memo to the writers of The Unit, Mamet (the show’s executive producer) provides a short but master class in writing for television.
THINK LIKE A FILMMAKER RATHER THAN A FUNCTIONARY, BECAUSE, IN TRUTH, YOU ARE MAKING THE FILM. WHAT YOU WRITE, THEY WILL SHOOT.
HERE ARE THE DANGER SIGNALS. ANY TIME TWO CHARACTERS ARE TALKING ABOUT A THIRD, THE SCENE IS A CROCK OF SHIT.
ANY TIME ANY CHARACTER IS SAYING TO ANOTHER “AS YOU KNOW”, THAT IS, TELLING ANOTHER CHARACTER WHAT YOU, THE WRITER, NEED THE AUDIENCE TO KNOW, THE SCENE IS A CROCK OF SHIT.
Is there a moment in one of your plays that you really didn’t know was there?
Yes. I wrote this play called Bobby Gould in Hell. Greg Mosher did it on a double bill with a play by Shel Silverstein over at Lincoln Center. Bobby Gould is consigned to Hell, and he has to be interviewed to find out how long he’s going to spend there. The Devil is called back from a fishing trip to interview Bobby Gould. And so the Devil is there, the Assistant Devil is there and Bobby Gould. And the Devil finally says to Bobby Gould, “You’re a very bad man.” And Bobby Gould says, “Nothing’s black and white.” And the Devil says, “Nothing’s black and white, nothing’s black and white—what about a panda? What about a panda, you dumb fuck! What about a fucking panda!” And when Greg directed it, he had the assistant hold up a picture of a panda, kind of pan it a hundred and eighty degrees to the audience at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. That was the best moment I’ve ever seen in any of my plays”. —David Mamet
David Mamet turns 65 today.
David Mamet continues to be one of Hollywood’s greatest and most prolific writers. Beginning his screenwriting career with the remake The Postman Always Rings Twice, Mamet has gone on to script the following movies: The Verdict, About Last Night (based on his play Sexual Perversity in Chicago), The Untouchables, House of Games (also his directorial debut), Things Change, We’re No Angels, Homicide, Glengarry Glen Ross (based on his Pulitzer Prize-winning play), Hoffa, Vanya on 42nd Street, Texan, Oleanna (based on his play), American Buffalo (based on his play), The Edge, The Spanish Prisoner, Wag the Dog, Ronin, Lansky, The Winslow Boy, State and Main, Hannibal, Heist, and Spartan.
MAMET’S THEATRICAL ROOTS
“You gotta put your ass on the line and use the audience. Period. The reason that theatre evolved that way was because the progress of the theatre on the stage aped and recapitulated the mechanism of human understanding, which is: thesis, antithesis and synthesis. And one learns to lead the audience ahead by giving them just enough information to make them interested, but not enough information so that they warrant surprise and punchline. Which is the way a joke is structured.”
MAMET ON DIRECTING
“Your chances of making a living or making a better living are increased by writing something that you would want to write badly enough that you would actually go out and raise the money to direct it. You’re much better to do that because otherwise you’re just going to waste twenty years waiting for the good will of your inferiors. If you really, really want to make a film—go film it for God’s sake, go steal a camera and get it done rather than trying to interest some second-class mind to help make your script a little bit worse.”
MAMET ON EXPOSITION
“The trick is—never write exposition. That’s absolutely the trick. Never write it. The audience needs to understand what the story is, and if the hero understands what he or she is after then the audience will follow it. The ancient joke about exposition used to be in radio writing when they’d say, ‘Come and sit down in that blue chair.’ So, that to me is the paradigm of why it’s an error to write exposition. Then exposition came out of television, ‘I’m good, Jim, I’m good. There’s no wonder why they call me the best orthopedic surgeon in town.’ Right? And now the exposition has migrated or metastasized into the fucking stage direction. ‘He comes into the room and you can just see he’s the kind of guy who fought in the Vietnam War.’ So the error of writing exposition exists absent even the most miniscule understanding of the dramatic process. You gotta take out the exposition. The audience doesn’t care. How do we know they don’t care? Anybody ever come into the living room and see a television drama that was halfway through? Did you have any difficulty understanding what was going on? No. The trick is to leave the exposition out and to always leave out the ‘obligatory scene.’ The obligatory scene is always the audition scene, so when you see the movie, not only is it the worst scene in the movie—it’s also the worst acted scene in the movie. Because the star has to do their worst, most expository acting to get the job. Leave out the exposition; we want to know what’s happening next. All our little friends…will say to you at one point, ‘You know, we want to know more about her.’ And that’s when you say, ‘Well, that’s what you paid me for—so that you would want to know more about her.’”
MAMET ON CON-ARTIST TALES
“In every generation the cunning rediscover that they can manipulate the trustful and they count this as the great, great wisdom of all time.”
PROFESSOR MAMET’S READING ASSIGNMENT
“I suggest that everyone get Francis Ferguson’s edition of Aristotle’s Poetics. Read it once—it’ll make the point—and then retire to your typewriters. [Screenwriting’s] all about working on it and working on it until it comes out even. There’s really no magic to it. There really isn’t. They say that Bach could improvise a toccata and I’m sure he could, but I don’t think anybody can improvise a screenplay. Joseph Campbell’s Hero of a Thousand Faces is another great book where he goes through the “Hero’s Journey” and explains that all Heroes Journeys are alike whether it’s Jesus or Moses or Ghandi or Martin Luther King, Jr. or Dumbo. Every Hero’s Journey is exactly alike because that’s the way that we understand our own Hero’s Journey—which is the story of our own life. We’re given a problem, we disregard the problem, it’s given to us again, and finally we’re called to an adventure and we find ourselves unprepared and we find ourselves in the belly of the beast like Jonah, who’s eventually spewed onto a foreign land in the second act and little friends come and help. It’s true. Whether it’s Mickey the Mouse or whether it’s John the Baptist or whether its Joshua—it’s the same thing according to Joseph Campbell. The little friends come and eventually the problems of the second act rectify themselves so that the third act is a reiteration of the first problem in a new form. Not how do I live with the fact that the taskmaster is killing the Jew, but how do I bring the Torah to the Jewish people? So the third act becomes the quest for the goal and eventually the hero achieves his or her goal and that’s the end of the movie that started since frame one.”
INTERVIEWED BY JEFF GOLDSMITH
Creative Screenwriting, VOLUME 11, #2 (MARCH/APRIL 2004)
THR’s Writers Roundtable: Osama bin Laden, Why ‘Schindler’s List’ Is Irresponsible and When Judd Apatow Was a Dishwasher.
The Hollywood Reporter roundtables typically draw diverse groups of talented people. But the six men who gathered Oct. 2 at The Residences at the W Hollywood might be among the most eclectic bunch we’ve ever assembled. Journalist and Oscar-winning screenwriter Mark Boal, 39, chronicles the manhunt for Osama bin Laden in his still-unfinished Zero Dark Thirty, while comedy kingpin Judd Apatow, 44, takes funny aim at his own family life in This Is 40. German auteur Michael Haneke, 70, brought along a translator to help him discuss his Palme d’Or-winning Amour with sitcom star-turned-scribe John Krasinski, 33, who wrote the anti-fracking drama Promised Land with Matt Damon. And veteran writer David Magee, 50, shared stories about his fantasy spectacle Life of Pi with Chris Terrio, 35, whose Argo marks his first feature screenwriting credit.
A Very Humble Thank You, Don Winslow
Keith Rawson interviews novelist Don Winslow at the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, AZ about his latest novel, The Kings of Cool, and Oliver Stone’s film adaptation of Savages.
- Don Winslow, Interviewed by Shane Salerno
- On ‘Savages,’ Oliver Stone, and Screenwriting: An Interview with Author Don Winslow
- Savages Author Don Winslow on Orange County, Drugs, and Oliver Stone
- Interview: Don Winslow, Author of The Kings of Cool, Prequel to Savages
- Don Winslow On ‘Savages’, Reviews And His Next Books
- In All Candor: Don Winslow on Savages, The Kings of Cool and Satori
- Oliver Stone and cast (Savages) on Charlie Rose
- Author Don Winslow Talks Latest Thriller ‘Satori’ & The Brewing Film Adaptation With Leonardo DiCaprio
- Oscar-Nommed ‘A Royal Affair’ Team Boards Epic Don Winslow Novel ‘Power Of The Dog’
“Not to be preachy about it, but discipline is everything for a working writer, at least for this one. I can’t just wander around fields of flowers or sit brooding in coffee houses waiting for the muse to land on my shoulder and whisper in my ear. That would nice, but it ain’t gonna happen. I treat writing like a factory job – the whistle blows and I’m at work. This thing always comes down to someone sitting down with some kind of writing instrument and getting it done.” —Don Winslow
Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, Vertue and Scott Talk About Sherlock in an hour long Masterclass.
Chapter Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Introducing the Masterclass
Chapter 2: Clip (Unseen on Video)
Chapter 3: Entrance Guests
Chapter 4: How it all began
Chapter 5: The difference between the 60min Pilot version and the 90min
Chapter 6: About Casting
Chapter 7: Andrew Scott about working on his character and gaining fame
Chapter 8: people’s reception toward Moriarty’s character.
Chapter 9: Clip from Baskerville (Unseen on Video)
Chapter 10: Going from paper to screen.
Chapter 11: Being Emboldened by 1st Season Success
Chapter 12: Deciding who will write what story
Chapter 13: Clip from Scandal in Belgravia (Unseen on Video)
Chapter 14: Casting Laura Pulver
Chapter 15: People’s reaction to Scandal in Belgravia
Chapter 16: What they expected when creating Sherlock
Chapter 17: Andrew Scott’s thoughts when reading the script
Chapter 18: Creating Sherlock as Fans
Chapter 19: Andrew Scott Sherlock from the actor’s pov
Chapter 20: About the Score
Chapter 21: New Clip (Unseen on Video)
Chapter 22: About Bridging the Pool Scene from S1 and S2
Chapter 23: About writing the ending of S1 and S2
Chapter 24: About Moriarty’s death
Chapter 25: about Elementary, the CBS Version
Chapter 26: About Series 3 three words ‘Rat. Wedding. Bow’
Chapter 27: About Filming and Airing S3
Chapter 28: Irrelevant Question about a Fan’sDVD
Chapter 29: Idea of continuing storyline through characters twitter accounts and online presence
Chapter 30: Are they worried to be racing through the source material?
Chapter 31: About Marc’s preference between write and acting
Chapter 32: About Feedbacks when exporting the shows
Chapter 33: About being an International Success
Chapter 34: Doctor Who failed attempt
Chapter 35: About keeping up with modern time evolution vs slow production
Chapter 36: About criticism and fan blogs about Sherlock
Director Billy Wilder in his office at Goldwyn Studios, Hollywood, 1964. Photographed by Bob Willoughby.
What screenwriter wouldn’t want a little advice from him? Well, here are some of Wilder’s screenwriting tips: *
- The audience is fickle.
- Grab ‘em by the throat and never let ‘em go.
- Develop a clean line of action for your leading character.
- Know where you’re going.
- The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.
- If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act.
- A tip from Lubitsch: Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you forever.
- In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees. Add to what they’re seeing.
- The event that occurs at the second act curtain triggers the end of the movie.
- The third act must build, build, build in tempo and action until the last event, and then—that’s it. Don’t hang around.
* From Conversations with Wilder by Cameron Crowe