Last night I got to bask in the company of some of the finest writers in the business at Beyond Words 2012. In attendance were 10 writers; Will Reiser (50/50), Alexander Payne (The Descendants), John Logan (Hugo), Annie Mumolo (Bridesmaids), Aaron Sorkin (Moneyball), Steven Zaillan (Moneyball, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), Stan Chervin (Moneyball) and Tate Taylor (The Help) with the discussion moderated by Ron Bass (Rainman).
At the pre-reception a few writers gave me a moment of their time where I learned some very interesting tid-bits about their careers.
It all started for Stan Chervin eight years ago when he received a call from producer Rachael Horovitz, and over the course of Moneyball’s development, he was fired and rehired. Annie Mumolo’s heart belonged first to acting, despite having now co-written one of the most talked about films of the year, Bridesmaids. She got the writing bug while attending an acting class in which she had to write her own material. Co-writer Kristen Wiig was one of her fellow classmates and the two subsequently joined Judd Apatow (who produced). From start to finish the passion project took five years. After speaking with her, I do think Mumolo would love to return to her acting roots. When I asked her if she would accept a lead role in a film if offered, she responded “No one would be crazy enough to offer me a lead, but I would love to.” We would certainly love to see more of her on screen!
The Voices discussion itself was mesmerizing. Aaron Sorkin discussed his process of learning to write a screenplay. In fact, he had never read or written a script before A Few Good Men. The producer of the film (to be) sent over ten scripts for Sorkin to read and to learn from, and obviously it worked as genius prevailed. A few craft tips from these mega-minds are “Don’t be afraid to write long,” “Don’t write drunk, cause it sounds so great and then you wake up disappointed,” “Be fearless” and my personal favorite “Don’t be afraid to take a crap on your computer and not care.”
These writers really opened up tonight and bared all during the discussion. I think it could of easily gone twice as long if time permitted. Be sure to catch up on all of these amazing screenplays before the WGA awards show this Sunday, February 19th.