Vulture.com has a really terrific New York Magazine
piece interviewing Damon Lindelof about writing blockbusters
. Lindelof has some interesting things to say about his work on WORLD WAR Z, where he took an over-the-top third act and brought it back to something human. One of the interesting things he says is that, if he'd been the previous writer, he would almost certainly have written an over-the-top third act, and he explains why. "
"It’s hard not to do it, especially because a movie, if properly executed, feels like it’s escalating ... Once you spend more than $100 million on a movie, you have to save the world. And when you start there, and basically say, I have to construct a MacGuffin based on if they shut off this, or they close this portal, or they deactivate this bomb, or they come up with this cure, it will save the world—you are very limited in terms of how you execute that. And in many ways, you can become a slave to it and, again, I make no excuses, I’m just saying you kind of have to start there.
“It sounds sort of hacky and defensive to say, [but it’s] almost inescapable,” he continues. “It’s almost impossible to, for example, not have a final set piece where the fate of the free world is at stake. You basically work your way backward and say, ‘Well, the Avengers aren’t going to save Guam, they’ve got to save the world.’ Did Star Trek Into Darkness need to have a gigantic starship crashing into San Francisco? I’ll never know. But it sure felt like it did."
Where it gets really interesting is when the interviewer proposes he Hollywood up the legend of John Henry, Steel Drivin' Man. Of course John Henry has to be childhood friends with the inventor of the steam hammer. Of course they have to be in love with the same woman. But if it's a blockbuster, there have to be stakes
. What is John Henry driving the steel for? Lindelof starts small, but by the end of it -- say he's channeling Writer C in the eventual arbitration -- well, read the article.