Susan Katz, in conversation with some of the top screenwriters working today, gives us an insider's look into the art, craft and business of screenwriting.
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Susan Bullington Katz is a writer and screenwriter whose monthly interviews with screenwriters appeared for years in "Written By," the journal of the Writers Guild of America, west, and earned her a 1999 Maggie Award nomination for "best interview." As a writer and producer of entertainment news, she works with CNN, Showtime, and Sundance Channel. Her articles have appeared in the Washington Post, the L.A. Times, Woman's Day, Premiere, TV Guide, Southern Magazine, USA Today, Newsday, and dozens more. A graduate of the University of North Carolina, she also went to Duke Drama in playwriting.Review:
"...Susan has a knack for posing questions that get the answers we all want to hear." -- Allan Burns
"Collected from the pages of Written By magazine, these interviews with screenwriters by Susan Bullington Katz provide insight into the wildly different processes by which writers produce their stories for the motion-picture screen. In all, 22 award-winning screenwriters are engaged in informal but revealing conversations with Katz, who has a deceptively simple but fruitful way of handling an interview.
In his foreword to this collection, screenwriter Alan Burns notes, 'Someone once said that a critic is a person who comes onto the battlefield after the war and shoots all the wounded. The person who said that was a writer.' Katz knows all about a writer's wounds, and she's gotten her subjects to discuss their own with great candor. Compiling these interviews over the course of five years, Katz notes that 'not one of them said about the actual act of writing that it's easy.'
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, who has adapted literary works such as 'A Room with a View' and 'Howard's End' for film, relates that while writing, 'I really don't think much about it, how it's going to be in a film. I just think, 'How are these two characters going to interact with each other?' I know it can't be the same as on the page in a novel - it must be much more direct and the language has to be simpler.'
Writer/director Frank Darabont, who has adapted Stephen King's 'The Shawshank Redemption' and 'The Green Mile' for the big screen (along with Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein'), describes the payoff a filmmaker gets when an audience responds to his work: 'There's nothing like pushing all those buttons as you go through the story and have the audience react the way you decided a year and a half ago they were supposed to react,' he says. 'There's nothing better than surprising them and hearing them gasp, or amusing them and hearing them laugh, or touching them and hearing them sniffle. That is the best.'
Katz asks writer/director Mike Leigh how he makes the audience care about his characters. 'I can only make you care,' responds Leigh, 'by caring about them myself.' For Leigh, the writing of the shooting script comes out of working with the actors to explore the world of their characters in rehearsal. For his Academy Award-winning film 'Secrets & Lies,' Leigh rehearsed for five months before finalizing his script and shooting.
Anthony Minghella describes how he left the novel 'The English Patient' by Michael Ondaatje behind in adapting it to screenplay form. 'I think the job of the screenwriter if much more architectural than it is a work of poetry,' he says. Minghella believes that a script is a map that a filmmaker can use to create cinematic poetry; he beautifully compares a writer's inspiration to looking into a drawer which is only open for about two or three seconds every day. 'There's a lot of time spent roaming, waiting for the drawer to slide open,' he says, 'then you see some lines and write them down quickly as you can, and the drawer slams.' Minghella notes that sometimes the drawer stays open for hours, or 'days will go by where the drawer never opens.'
Katz's interview with Horton Foote, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and 'Tender Mercies,' is an object lesson in the power of persistence. 'Don't ever give up on something,' says Foote. 'You just can't, because you just never know.' Foote's 1953 television play 'The Trip to Bountiful' took 32 years to make it to the big screen.
Writer/director Atom Egoyan, whose films include 'Exotica,' 'The Sweet Hereafter' and 'Felicia's Journey,' has always been intrigued by the things people =can't= say. Not surprisingly, his heroes are playwrights Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. 'I've always loved the silence and pause, where there would be extended moments where the viewer or the reader would have to imagine what was unsaid,' he offers.
This fine collection of interviews is highly recommended for anyone interested in how the filmmaking process begins." -- American Cinematographer magazine, March, 2001 (review by Ray Zone)
This fine collection of interviews is highly recommended for anyone interested in how the filmmaking process begins. -- American Cinematographer, March, 2001
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Book Description Heinemann Drama, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0325002959
Book Description Heinemann Drama, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0325002959
Book Description Heinemann Drama, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110325002959
Book Description Heinemann Drama. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0325002959 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.1032910