I recently had the pleasure/privilege of seeing a talk by the screenwriter John Logan (no relation to Johnny Logan, who won the Eurovision Song Contest a while back).
Is he any good? Well, he wrote this:
And even this:
So yes, he’s about as good as it gets.
He was an excellent speaker: loquacious, informative, engaging, energetic and a strange mixture of humble and self-aggrandising (difficult not to be the latter with that CV).
But what can I pass on from my learnings?
1. Ego, credit, pissing contests… none of them matter. The only thing that matters is ‘Does it work?’
2. If you want to be a great writer you have to read the progression of drama from Aristotle to Shakespeare to Brecht to Shaw etc.
3. He did his degree then spent ten years shelving books in a library, writing plays that were not seen by many. Then he wrote his first screenplay, which was Any Given Sunday. So you can start late, so long as you’ve been paying your dues in the meantime.
4. Don’t be afraid of the big line. Write, ‘On my signal, unleash hell’, but get right behind it if you do.
5. The director is not God. Get in there and talk to the actors.
6. People only want to see Coriolanus because it has ‘anus’ in the title.
Thanks, John. I look forward to the next Bond Film.
he wrote RANGO? he is a god. that is a work of genius.
love to have seen that.
I know. It’s an amazing piece of work, but what gets me is his range. There are serious epics, musicals, kids’ cartoons, Shakespeare, Bond… awesome.
I am sure he is very talented and his talk was entertaining but if this is what you learnt it’s not much. Egos do matter because people in power possess egos and will screw up projects like you wouldn’t believe. If you’re a screenwriter you can sincerely do your very best to ensure your script is as good as possible and that includes putting aside your ego but if you disagree with a producer they are likely to assume that you are being egotistical without properly considering your objections. In other words, it gets complicated.
Talk to the actors? Fat chance.
I am going to watch Rango.
Sorry, perhaps I should have been a little clearer:
In collaboration with others you should let nothing get in the way of the improvement of the end result.
And he gets to talk to the actors. He and Sam Mendes got two weeks rehearsal time for the new Bond movie.
I argue that the combination of these ingredients initiates a distinctive and highly original progression towards anagnorisis and determines the outcomes in the works selected.
Saw Rango on Saturday – it was really great – the animation was simply sublime and it was genuinely left-field and a bit Hunter S. Thompson.
God I must be getting old, that ‘inch by inch’ speech actually moved me a little.