Screenwriters in their own words: The stories behind the stories of ‘Black Panther,’ ‘Tully’ and more
By Los Angeles Times Staff
Nov 20, 2018 | 6:35 AM
In Hollywood, many times the stories behind the scenes are just as interesting as those on the screen. So with awards season heating up once again, The Envelope asked the writers of this year’s most-talked-about contenders to reveal the creative processes behind their screenplays. Check out the links for the full first-person essays and continue to check this page throughout awards season for the latest additions.
“Writing this script saved me. ‘Tully’ became my Tully, my helper, a glowing, soothing presence I could return to whenever I felt overwhelmed. My laptop was speckled with dried breast milk because I’d pump and type at the same time. The manual for the breast pump referred to the action as “expression,” which seemed appropriate. I was expressing all over the place, left and right, literally and figuratively. The relief was tremendous.”
“It was also deeply important to everyone involved with the film that we be respectful of Africa, its cultures and people. All too often the continent of over 50 nations has been painted with a broad brush and woefully misrepresented. We spoke to historians and consultants, and Ryan visited the continent. Hannah Beachler, our production designer, put together a Wakandan bible rooted in tireless research.”
“Most of my process as a first-time writer was asking ‘why?’ Why am I making this? Why would this character behave this way? Much like I do as an actor, I tried to turn the material over inside myself and filter that through the characters. Slowly, the script began to shed skins and become itself.” — Paul Dano
“So I did what I had done on ‘Spotlight’ — I sent early drafts of the script to Neil [Armstrong]’s family and colleagues. And, not unlike Neil’s journey to the moon, my journey on the script was marked by early failure. Astronauts Dave Scott and Mike Collins were pretty tough. I’d gotten all sorts of technical details wrong. And some of my characterizations of Neil were off. An early scene had Neil repeatedly slamming a phone down on the receiver after finding out about the Apollo 1 fire. Jim Hansen and everyone else who knew Neil were up in arms. Neil would never do that.”
Felix van Groeningen and Luke Davies, “Beautiful Boy”
“At some point, I felt that we were pushing too much ‘structure’ onto the authentic story. The repetitive nature of a recovery narrative is also the challenging part of it. How do you keep invested in it, when you sort of know what is coming? Yet we needed to embrace this repetitive nature, and try to find a way to experience it like the characters experienced it — rebuilding hope every time.” — Felix Van Groeningen
“My new film is a love story about a mother and her recovering-addict son. I started writing with this central question: ‘What if the mother, Holly, was like Orpheus and was willing to descend into the Underworld to bring her great love (in this case, her son Ben) back to Earth?’ So instead of having one seminal moment of heroism, she could make an endless string of determined, but often misguided, heroic attempts.”
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