(First off, my apologies to everyone, particularly all those diehard fans of “Rudy,” whose favorite movie was left off yesterday’s football-movies poll. Football movies are not my specialty, though I am very good at, oh, ballet movies, Alexander Payne movies, and a genre I may well have been the first to identify, Movies In Which Robert Redford Dies While Wearing a Very Cute Khaki Outfit. Bonus points to anyone who can name at least two.)
Anyway. In non-Super Bowl-related news, ten Writers Guild of America-nominated screenwriters spoke on a panel Tuesday night. (For awards-season completists: the WGA original screenplay nominees are an exact match with the Oscar list; the WGA adapted screenplay list substitutes “August: Osage County” and “Lone Survivor” for “12 Years a Slave” and “Philomena.” The latter two movies were deemed ineligible, as the films weren’t produced under WGA jurisdiction.) Our very own local nominee Bob Nelson, writer of “Nebraska,” offered this wisdom: “The best thing to do as a screenwriter is to pillage your family mercilessly.” The Bruce Dern character in “Nebraska” is inspired by Nelson’s father; June Squibb’s character after his mother-in-law. ““When my brother saw the movie he said, ‘That wasn’t writing – that was dictation.’”
The idea of sifting through real events to create your screenplay resonated with many of the writers, including Eric Warren Singer, co-writer of “American Hustle” (a movie that begins with the on-screen note: “Some of this actually happened”). “Early on, I made a decision to let go of what actually happened because it gave me the freedom to write the story I wanted to write and to tell the most compelling story for me,” said Singer, who said he was able to cherry-pick the real events without feeling an obligation to include everything. And Billy Ray (“Captain Phillips”) remembered how he described the movie in his first meeting with studio executives: “This is a movie about two captains and they both get up in the morning and get dressed and go to work. And their work happens to put them on this collision course.”
The whole article’s a good read for those interested in screenwriting; check it out here.