Jury Coordination and Notes

Directors Close Up: Storytellers: Writers and Directors

Week two of Directors Close Up: Storytellers: Writers and Directors featured writers Mike White and David Branson talking about their methodology for writing scripts. It’s common knowledge that writing a feature-length movie script or a season of TV series is no easy feat. Mike White talked about different events that influenced his thinking. One specific scene from a film he wrote, Beatriz at Dinner, features a man talking rather proudly at a dinner party about being an animal poacher. Mike talked about how he imagined what might happen at a dinner party where someone spoke about doing something like that? What would happen? David also spoke about how scenes with little dialogue may seem easy, but are in fact the hardest of all to write. Having a character talk to themselves or to try to create a natural awkward conversation presents many challenges to writers. ­­­­­

Something I found particularly interesting was the different writing styles these two have. Mike has the need to write early in the day and have a sense of accomplishment. If he doesn’t write anything before noon, his day is wasted. David’s style involves a rhythm and discipline. To help him write, he likes to do the same thing every day, at the same time, in the same location. It may range from going to a coffee shop every morning, to swimming in the ocean every day.

The two also talked about the relationship between director and writer. The writer creates this story and it’s the director’s job to be able to interpret and project it in a way that will be enjoyed and understood by viewers. Both talked about how they see their scripts as their children. Giving away something they love is rather difficult. And, seeing it transformed into something unrecognizable causes a mix of emotions, just like seeing your child grow into adulthood.

The take away for me is that a film’s writer has the biggest influence on the story. But in many ways, the smallest influence on the audience. Looking into a writer’s world can truly reveal a new side of watching films.

From left to right: Moderator Jennifer Cochis,
Writer Mike White, and Writer David Branson Smith
Images courtesy of WireImage and Film Independent

By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15


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