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What I'm doing is helping reality out. To complete itself. I'm giving it a hand. But there's some piece of reality that is a reported reality that it hangs on. It does hang on it. ...

When I was in Nevada, I lived about sixty miles out of Reno. There was a guy who had this house on stilts. In the desert. 

And that was a very curious thing, looking at this house raised up about ten feet above the ground. I wondered, Was he waiting for a flood? 

Well, it turned out he had a hole in the ground under that house, and there was a silver mine down at the bottom of this hole. He would periodically go down and dig himself out some silver. That was his bank.

And I think that's like a writer. He's living on top of that hole. He goes down there and sees if he can chop out some silver. ...

To write any kind of imaginary work, you gotta fall on your sword. You gotta be ready to be blasted out of existence. Lots of times, the blood is on the floor.

Playwright Arthur Miller, 87, from interview by 
John H. Richardson, Esquire, July 2003 - 
Photograph by Brigitte Lacombe - her book: Cinema/Theatre

...The Crucible  /  Death of A Salesman

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I'm tired of hearing people complain of the dearth of interesting roles for women. It's really up to the writers because that's where it comes from. The inner emotional life of a woman is every bit as interesting as the inner emotional life of a man.
Diane Lane  ... [Hollywood Reporter, Mar 5 2003]

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Writers fall into two groups -- one thinks everything they write is good; the other, which I belong to, is convinced that they were lucky enough to fool everyone the last time and they are about to be caught this time. Invariably, there will come a moment where I realize the jig is up, where it's just pure deep panic. The big change is that now I recognize this as part of the process. I can perspectivize it. And the day that writing becomes easy -- that's a dangerous day.

Akiva Goldsman....(films include The Client; A Beautiful Mind) [Reuters/Variety, Dec 25 2002]

more quotes by Goldsman in article: So Smart It Hurts
related pages:**anxiety......impostor feelings

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I love theater. I love it. I've dedicated so much of my life to it; I'll always do it. But it is extremely difficult for women especially to sustain a career in it. 

The main stumbling block is that most of those playwrights are men. You can't compare the experiences of men and women in the theater; you can only contrast. 

There's almost no relationship. Look at the roster of plays on and off Broadway; it's male dominated. 

Right now is an easier moment for women in the theater because the vogue is empowered female sexuality. But it was not in vogue when I was emerging as a playwright in the 1980s and 1990s.

And while the stage has it's own immediacy and intimacy, there are limitations. One of the main differences between the two is that the type of intimacy, the type of ritual and idiosyncratic loneliness that I write about is more difficult to portray on stage. 

For example, actors have to speak loudly on stage, which works against my instincts. In some essential ways, film suits my writing.

So far I've found the film world full of extremely intelligent women who get what I do. It's less so in theater because there are fewer women in positions of power.

Erin Cressida Wilson

She won the 2002 Independent Spirit Award for her screenplay, adapted from a short story by Mary Gaitskill, for the movie Secretary.

Currently, Wilson is reteaming with Secretary director Steven Shainberg to explore the controversial life of photographer Diane Arbus, based on the biography by Patricia Bosworth. In 2004 Simon and Schuster will publish her first novel.
from article Finding Her Pleasure: An Interview with Erin Cressida Wilson - by Susan DeCarava, Editor, Writers Guild East

Erin Cressida Wilson is also author of The Erotica Project 

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This is why I respond to the way Mamet writes women, or rather, the way he writes people. He writes people's honesty, even when people are being hypocritical or lying, you can still see through that. 

People often write women - well, they dumb them down, so they can't lie and they can't have flaws. 

And so often people write casually; he writes very, very carefully, so it comes across in this very relaxed way, but every word is loaded. 

It sounds casual, but it's so intentional. I'd never ask, why is this line here? I'd always discover the clues of it myself. If the line is there, there's a reason why it's there.

Whereas, with films, a lot of screenwriters write so casually that you do have to question, you have to be on your guard, you do have to make sure that it has purpose.

Julia Stiles  ... from 'Oleanna' interview, Guardian (UK): 
3rd April 2004 [posted on]

photo of Julia Stiles from The Bourne Supremacy

photo of David Mamet by Brigitte LaCombe

books by David Mamet include Three Uses of the Knife
and True and False: Heresy 
and Common Sense for the Actor

Lacombe: cinema/theater by Brigitte Lacombe 
(photography), David Mamet (text)

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Most male writers would be scared to write an ensemble piece for six women -- particularly one set mainly indoors with no opportunity for car chases or fistfights.

"I write about everybody and always have," shrugs writer/director John Sayles, whose latest bargain opus, a $1 million-budgeted Casa de los Babys is set at a South American hotel where six fairly well-off gringas are waiting to adopt children. ....

"I used to work in a hospital as the only orderly, and the rest were nurses and aides. It's true that women have a different dynamic by themselves, but it's one you can pick up on if you can be quiet and listen.

"If there are not too many men around, they'll forget you're there.

"One thing I do is write the parts as if I had to act them. What if this movie was just about this character? It's their story, even the actors in small parts."

The proof is in the cast, a formidable ensemble of actresses.. Mary Steenburgen, Lili Taylor, Susan Lynch, Vanessa Martinez, Daryl Hannah, Marcia Gay Harden, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rita Moreno. ....

"Movies are an excuse to learn," he says. "I do a lot of research and a lot of thinking before I sit down. So when I sit down I can do it in two weeks -- faster if I need to, but I don't like to work that hard," he says with a grin.

from article Under full Sayles, by Jim Slotek, Toronto Sun, Sept 25, 2003

photo of John Sayles by Jeff Vespa - ©

photo above from Casa de los Babys DVD 

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John Gregory Dunne
[1932 - 2003]
Dunne's humorous and frankly harrowing book about the eight years he and Joan Didion spent working on "Up Close and Personal," managed to be unsparing about behind-the-scenes Hollywood, without bitterness and without recycling any of the jilted-lover cliches that other East Coast writers have heaped on the film industry. 

Reviewing the book for The Times in February 1997, author Michael Crichton wrote: "The book is a remarkable narrative -- part memoir, part diary, part confessional -- that tells more about the experience of writing for Hollywood than any other book ever written. It is also a very funny horror story."

"He had a voice, and he had talent and put them both to work," said his brother, Dominick Dunne.

from article Insight beyond compare - Dunne is remembered for his versatility and strong skills of observation. By Reed Johnson and Renee Tawa, LA Times Jan 1 2004  /  (AP photo from 1989 ) 

...Monster : Living Off the Big Screen - by John Gregory Dunne

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The cauldron of resentments finally boiled over into her first stage play, but today Josefina Lopez laughs at the memory.

"I distilled all -- my feelings about the INS, the unfair working conditions, business exploitation, the status of Latina women, especially large Latina women like myself, and anything else I could think of -- into that play. All the action was set in the dress factory and there were no men in the play.

"I knew when I started developing the screenplay with George LaVoo and the film's director, Patricia Cordoso," she continues, "that the action would have to open up and the storyline be more focused and simplified.

"We lost most of the political stuff but the film did capture the struggle of a strong-willed young woman who is able to push aside all the limiting factors in her life and make her own way in the world."

Though Josefina Lopez has emerged onto the mainstream of the entertainment industry, she has not forgotten her emotionally torturous years of enduring status as a second-class citizen.

"I firmly believe that Latinos and other minorities are never going to be given equal status in this country," she declares. "They have to create it for themselves."

To that end she has established Casa 0101, a theatre arts space in her childhood neighborhood of Boyle Heights.

Its stated mission reads: "Casa 0101 was founded by Josefina Lopez, a playwright, activist, artist and all around Chingona, to bring live theatre, digital filmmaking, dance and art to Boyle Heights so as to nurture the future storytellers of Los Angeles who will someday transform the world."

She explains: "People can find out about Casa 0101 on my website []. I teach screenwriting and playwrighting at my space. I'm trying to encourage more Latinos who want to write movies and stage plays.

"Most Latinos who want to get into show business want to be actors or musicians. But there is a real need for good Latino storytellers. Us writers need to do the dirty work that will eventually lead to real transformation and progress of our people in this country."

from article: Fugitive No More... by Julio Martinez 
(Dec 2002/Jan 2003 issue of "Written By")

Real Women Have Curves by Josefina Lopez book  /  dvd

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Karen Moncrieff, writer and director of "Blue Car," says, "The reason I started writing in the first place was I had become really frustrated with the things I was being offered as an actor. 

"If you look at my resume, I did a spate of.. B-movies and nighttime TV shows I didn't watch, soaps I didn't watch. So I was always vaguely embarrassed of the work I did, and my creative output didn't really match my creative passion."

She began to take extension classes in screenwriting, and eventually enrolled in the two-year certificate program at Los Angeles City College (which she completed) to learn the nuts and bolts of filmmaking. Her script for "Blue Car" would win the prestigious Nicholl Fellowship... 

Though she had initially set out to write better roles for herself, she suddenly found she no longer felt the need to perform.

"Yes, I fully left it, happily left it behind," she says. "I don't cast myself because I don't think I'm good enough. Honestly, I think I was fine as an actor, but I don't think I was tremendous." ... [LA Times 5.1.03]

~ ~
"A lot of writers talk about how painful it is to be in the room writing. It's not like that for me. I feel most connected with myself when I'm writing. ...

"My mission is to be an artist, not someone who makes movies for money. I want to put good things in the world and give actors an opportunity to explore interesting characters.".....[Variety, Nov 12, 2002] 

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Charlie Kaufman [Nicolas Cage]: To begin.. To begin... How to start? I'm hungry. I should get coffee. Coffee would help me think. 

Maybe I should write something first, then reward myself with coffee. Coffee and a muffin. So I need to establish the themes. Maybe a banana nut. That's a good muffin.

from "Adaptation" [dvd] - directed by Spike Jonze; written by Charlie Kaufman
based on the book The Orchid Thief

The funniest line in "Adaptation".. isn't in the movie. It's in the film's press kit. As the now-familiar story goes, Kaufman, an Oscar nominee for his screenplay for "Being John Malkovich," was hired to adapt Susan Orlean's nonfiction book "The Orchid Thief" to the screen. 

Yet, despite his previous success, the production notes explain, Kaufman was still "plagued by insecurities."

Only a studio press kit would make such an assertion as though it were inexplicable -- and vaguely unseemly. After all, "success" equals "secure" -- right? Wrong, as this film, directed by Spike Jonze, makes clear.

The film's journey to the screen is a unique one. After accepting the assignment to adapt Orlean's story about a charismatic and unlikely orchid thief named John Laroche, Kaufman found himself in the grip of a crippling writer's block. ...

As a former screenwriter myself, now a therapist who works with writers, I was struck by how accurately the film depicts the harrowing mesh of self-loathing, envy, rage and feigned cynicism that is the screenwriter's world. ...

Charlie Kaufman's ordeal is one that every screenwriter will recognize. 

psychotherapist Dennis Palumbo .. [LA Times, 1/12/03]

his site

photo: Nicolas Cage as Charlie Kaufman

...Adaptation: The Shooting Script - by Charlie Kaufman

Writing from the Inside Out - by Dennis Palumbo

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For years I'd send things to agents and not get any kind of response. And I just decided at one point that I was going to be a television writer, so I got an agent who agreed to read my stuff -- and I decided I was going to be tenacious. Every time the agent said he was going to read it in a week, he wouldn't -- but it gave me permission in my mind to call. So I'd call every time at the end of the week. And this went on for over a year. ...

The only advice I've ever given anybody - because it's the only advice I feel sure of, and the only advice I wouldn't have listened to myself -- is that you've got to be persistent. Because the hardest thing is getting anyone's attention. Once you've done that, it's much easier. ...

You know, if that's your goal as a writer [doing formula scripts], I'm not judging it. It's just that, for me, it doesn't serve my purpose -- which is that I'd like to do something that's challenging or risky or that I don't feel has been done or haven't seen done before. I feel like I'm doing something then. ... The risk of failure is important.

Charlie Kaufman  [, April 2002] [his scripts include Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; 
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind; Adaptation; Human Nature, and Being John Malkovich]

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Be prepared for rejection and lots of it. Hold tight to your dream but be flexible. People WILL 
touch your "golden words". Learn how to be a team player without being an **kisser.

"It is a great thing to write. To be no longer yourself, but to move 
in an entire universe of your own creation." - Flaubert

writer and script consultant Lynn Barker 
.. [ interview]  / photo from her site

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The most discouraging thing about any piece of writing is when things are embarrassingly literal. The films I learned to act in always involved something ambiguous. In the Atom Egoyan films [Exotica and The Sweet Hereafter] the unspoken is what's important - the words are mechanisms to talk around what you're really talking about. 

And now I find I struggle sometimes when a piece of dialogue is exactly what it is. Sometimes you make things confusing so you can seem mysterious, and it's actually bullsh*t. ...

I like playing people who have secrets, who have isolated themselves in some way. I do think of loneliness as the thing that I'm constantly running away from - but I don't think I'm the only person who feels that way.

Sarah Polley..... [Interview mag., Feb 2003 - photo by Bruce Weber]

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And the work itself is never easy, even for the indisputably successful Ron Bass [Rain Man, What Dreams May Come etc], who starts writing every day by 4:30 a.m. so he can accomplish a significant amount of scripting before the inevitable phone calls begin.

"Writing is absolutely as torturous as ever, word by word, page by page," he admits. "You want the studio, the actress and director to love what you've written and it kills you when they don't. And it never happens that they say, 'You're Ron Bass, so I'll take your word for it.' It's still the same thrill when it works and you watch an audience enjoy something you had a hand in. But it does not get any easier."  [Reuters/Variety, Dec 25 2002]

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There comes a point where [a successful actor] can't accept unsolicited material. You're told, "You're going to get sued" if you open up that brown package that arrives at the office that may have a great screenplay in it. ... So, this is [now] true of almost every [Hollywood player]: No major agency, no production company, no studio accepts unsolicited material.

This is why movies like My Big Fat Greek Wedding take forever to get produced. Nobody wants to do it. [But] it would take just one person saying, "You know, I really believe in that idea" [for the project to be a success]. 

So I was frustrated over the years at the cutting off of a pipeline that, quite frankly, has been the basis of my career. The best material I've found is stuff that got chucked over the wall -- people who didn't have an agent, first-time, second-time filmmakers who went on to prove themselves later.

I was really frustrated by the fact that I had to cut off this avenue that I think everyone in the film industry should be interested in. ... 

Being successful doesn't necessarily mean that what someone is writing today on our site is going to be the one [to make it big]. But if people are nurtured, taken care of, protected, and part of a community where they get real good criticism, they might be able to take it to the next level.

Kevin Spacey - about his site - "..a sympathetic forum where aspiring screenwriters and filmmakers can post scenarios and short films and receive constructive criticism on how to improve them."  [ Nov. 13, 2002]

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