Crafty Sheldon Turner Interview - Complications Ensue
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Friday, February 26, 2010

THE DIALOGUE SERIES is a series of DVD interviews of famous screenwriters, focusing on their craft, instead of the usual war stories, hosted by New Line Cinema's former president, Mike de Luca. I checked out his interview with Sheldon Turner, recently nominated for the Oscar for UP IN THE AIR. Among the tidbits:

Sheldon Turner writes out every scene in prose before writing it in script format; that gives him a better feel for what's happening the scene.

He wrote a dozen screenplays before he sent any of them out.

He thinks you should never write more than two lines of action before skipping a line. Otherwise the eye just blips over the rest of the text.

He says directors often tell him they knew by page 12 they were going to do a project.

He finds that successful stars know how the audience wants to see them; if you can write to that, you're ahead of the game. In other words they generally do not want to play against type.

(I like to make a distinction between actors and stars. Actors play roles; stars play themselves in roles. Alec Guinness disappears into his roles. Marlon Brando could play a street thug or an upper class South African lawyer convincingly. Robert Redford plays Robert Redford really well. That said, even the greatest actors have their limitations. Robert De Niro can't play comedy. Dustin Hoffman can't play a leading man. And you generally play Robert De Niro to play threatening and Dustin Hoffman to play nervous.)

The Dialogue Series guys are offering you guys a 15% discount -- just use the discount code CRAFTY15.
THE DIALOGUE is a DVD series of 70-90 minute discussions in which more than two dozen top screenwriters share their work habits, methods and inspirations, secrets of the trade, business advice, and eye-opening stories from life in the trenches of the film industry. Each writer discusses his or her filmography in great detail and breaks down the mechanics of one favorite scene from their produced work.

Interview subjects include Oscar winners and industry veterans like Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby), Callie Khouri (Thelma and Louise), Paul Attanasio (Quiz Show, Donnie Brasco), Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich), Peter & Bobby Farrelly (There's Something About Mary, Stuck on You) and David S. Goyer (Dark City, Blade, Batman Begins). The series is hosted by Michael De Luca, film fanatic and former President of Production at New Line Cinema. In a climate where "industry" talk shows are mostly fluff pieces, Mike De Luca's probing and savvy style elevates this series to a true exploration of the craft and its masters.

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7 Comments:

I've seen a bit of the Paul Haggis interview that he did with the series. I don't remember taking anything away that changed how I wrote.
So Alex, I was wondering which writers you would recommend who are worth buying the DVD for?

By Blogger Norlinda, at 5:51 PM  

Oh, Lordy, I don't know. Some people like to see how other writers do it. Some don't need it. I thought this interview was sort of interesting. Your mileage may vary.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 9:04 PM  

You can buy the DVD, or you could just visit their channel on youtube... http://www.youtube.com/user/TheDialogue

By Blogger JamaicanInToronto, at 7:38 PM  

Looks like the YouTubes are just teasers. But you can probably learn a lot from them.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 8:11 PM  

Some of them(the earlier ones) are around ten minutes long, "trick of the trade" interviews. Long enough to get significant info.

By Blogger JamaicanInToronto, at 1:29 AM  

I have an unrelated question. I'm writing a scene in a foreign language (native American) that I do not speak. How do I indicate that in the screenplay?

By Blogger chris, at 7:31 PM  

@Chris: there is a whole section on that very question in CRAFTY SCREENWRITING.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 2:41 PM  

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