Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Great Quotes and Bios of Today’s TOP Writers!

"I love films that are simple stories with complex characters." -Stuart Beattie

Australian screenwriter Stuart Beattie is credited with having written the role no one ever thought they'd see Tom Cruise play: Vincent, the riveting homicidal hit man in Beattie's original screenplay, Collateral, directed by Michael Mann (The Insider, Heat). After 15 years in the business, Beattie has learned a thing or two about how to make characters and plots sing (or sting) on the page. And his long-gestating idea for a rejuvenation of the pirate movie eventually hit pay dirt with the Jerry Bruckheimer blockbuster, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, on which he has story credit. Listen in as Beattie describes what it feels like when Tom Cruise looks like he wants to kill you, where the best story ideas come from, and how to stay passionate when you can't even get your mother to read your screenplays.

"At the center of every story is some question I do not have the answer for, and something that really scares me." -Paul Haggis

Acclaimed writer-director Paul Haggis has been a fixture of television and film for over 25 years. In this wide-ranging interview, the Oscar®-winning co-screenwriter, director, and producer of Crash (Best Picture 2005) discusses a three-decade career that led from writing for sitcoms like Diff'rent Strokes and The Facts of Life to his breakthrough screenplay for Oscar®-winning director Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby (Best Picture 2004). Haggis's matter-of-fact stories of navigating the entertainment industry are an indelible primer for how to manage the screenwriting life, make a successful transition from TV to film, develop a strong story and characters, pitch an idea, and surmount Hollywood's more frustrating obstacles.

"What can't be taught to screenwriters? Tenacity and having a hard skin." -David Goyer

David S. Goyer has a deliciously twisted mind. (They don't call him "The Prince of Darkness" for nothing.) And he knows how to bring comic book characters and superheroes to kicking, screaming, vengeful life, as he did in The Crow: City of Angels, the Blade series, and Batman Begins. His intense Batman screenplay, written with director Christopher Nolan (Memento, Insomnia), resurrected the moribund Dark Knight franchise and confirmed his writing voice as a go-to source for a green light. Here, in this wry and surprising dialogue, Goyer reveals his tricks of the trade for how to intimidate a room full of studio executives, when to stand on principle, how to hook an actor's ego with killer character descriptions and dialogue, and why fear can pay the bills.

"If you write a really compelling story, everyone will want to be involved. " -Ted Griffin

There's no con more satisfying and lucrative than finding a way to make a living as a screenwriter. And Ted Griffin is a man who knows a good con. Anyone who tried to follow the clever criminal head games he built into his screenplays for Ocean's Eleven and Matchstick Men knows not to trust this guy. Except when he talks about screenwriting, which he does with great humor and insight in this enlightening interview that ranges from his early work on Ravenous and Best Laid Plans through the unexpected pitfalls of trying to direct his first film, Rumor Has It...

"Be that person who's stubborn enough to look in the face of the hurricane and not blink. " -Sheldon Turner

Sheldon Turner is the prototype for the smart, brash, ambitious young screenwriter - only he's also got a law degree from NYU and has had his fiction published in the New Yorker. Turner recently broke through with his script for the 2005 remake of The Longest Yard, starring Chris Rock and Adam Sandler, and he has half a dozen other scripts in development. He's got insane discipline, writes longhand, and boycotts email. He figured out how to work the system, and he's got more witty axioms for how to play the Hollywood game than a Tropicana craps dealer at 3 am. But you'll just have to hear Turner talk to get it - what being the biggest guy in the room can do for you, how to read an audience, what to say in pitch meetings, and why you should let everyone know that you think Lost in Translation sucks.

"I like to stretch the boundaries of genre and layer in as much interesting material as I can." -Jim Uhls

Jim Uhls is not your average screenwriter. For one thing, his nickname is "Professor Peculiar." For another, as this exclusive off-kilter discussion of his craft demonstrates, Uhls is eager to break the first rule of Fight Club: He talks about Fight Club. A lot. That seminal film, directed by David Fincher (Se7en, Panic Room), pushed every boundary possible for a studio movie, and Uhls' darkly funny script, adapted from the Chuck Palahniuk novel, is a wickedly subversive example of how to successfully adapt an "unadaptable" book. Step inside the mind of the man who figured out how to do it, as Professor Peculiar explains how to use a newspaper story approach to build a brilliant pitch, why you should interview your characters, how to know when to "stick a fork" in your screenplay, and the macabre particulars of how and why he had to murder his brother's cat.

[Excerpted from http://www.thedialogueseries.com/ and interviews on DVD with The Masters!]

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