Recently I had a chance to review a selection from the DVD series The Dialogue. In this series, Hollywood's top screenwriting talent sits down for 70-90 minute interviews about everything from how they approach their craft to what it's like navigating the often tortuous streets of Tinsel Town.
If you're a writer/movie buff who has dreamed of breaking into the screenwriting industry and is looking for a first-hand seminar from the experts - or even if you're simply interested in how movies are conceived on the page (before ever going before the cameras), then The Dialogue is the series you've been waiting for.
The interviews are conducted by Mike De Luca, head of Michael De Luca Productions and former President of Production at both New Line Cinema and Dreamworks. If you don't recognize the name, De Luca is the man who helped bring us such films as Se7en, Boggie Nights, Magnolia, Austin Powers and Ghost Rider.
The series showcases big name screenwriting talent, including:
- David Goyer (Batman Begins, Upcoming Superman Reboot)
- Ted Griffin (Ocean's 11)
- The Farrelly Bros. (There's Something About Mary)
- Jim Uhls (Fight Club)
- Stuart Beattie (Collateral, 30 Days of Night)
- Bruce Joel Rubin (Ghost)
- Paul Haggis (Crash)
- And many, many others...
The particular episode of the series that I was given to review featured an interview with screenwriter Sheldon Turner (The Longest Yard), who ironically enough just received a slew of accolades and awards (including a Golden Globe and a BAFTA) for his work co-writing the Oscar-nominated film, Up In The Air.
My first question when popping this DVD in my player was "How is this interview going to fill an hour and a half?" The answer: By providing a lot of useful information and tips, great insight, and some funny personal anecdotes.
Turner touched on just about everything: His own writing habits (he starts when most of planet Earth is still asleep); his battles in the pitch meeting process; how to put together a 'proper' script for a movie; jobs he's had, famous people he's worked with/for; how he went from law school to the screen writing business (talk about a pay cut) and on a serious note, what this craft demands and how few actual rewards there are in it.
Of course, it's ironic to hear this "raw deal" version of the business from a guy who will possibly walk away with an Oscar in a few weeks time - but hey, what better incentive to go out and pick up The Dialogue series - it has proven results!
Ironic moment: While talking about projects he either had to or wanted to pass on, Turner makes a crack about producer/director Ivan Reitman (My Super Ex-Girlfriend). Little could Turner know at the time he filmed this that he would soon be catapulted to the height of his career thanks to the script for Up In The Air, a movie Turner co-wrote with Ivan Reitman's son, Jason Reitman, which would be produced by....(you guessed it) Ivan Reitman. Yikes!
All joking aside, amateur screenwriters, prospective screenwriters, wannabe screenwriters - this is valuable information you will want to take a look at. Whether you choose your favorite screenwriter in series, or the ones who write the kind of movies you want to emulate - or if you simply want to peruse the various experiences, opinions and techniques of Hollywood's best pens, checking out The Dialogue is a smart move.
You can learn more about the series, watch some clips and order at your leisure by visiting the Dialogue Official Website.