The Hollywood Reporter finishes up its yearly roundtable discussions with a fascinating conversation with this year’s acclaimed screenwriters. This year includes Academy Award nominated screenwriters Kenneth Lonergan (“Manchester by the Sea”), Taylor Sheridan (“Hell or High Water”), and Allison Schroeder (“Hidden Figures”) in addition to Noah Oppenheim (“Jackie”), Pedro Almodovar (“Julieta”), and Tom Ford (“Nocturnal Animals”).
The conversation covers a wide range of topics that might be insightful to budding screenwriters. When questioned if they believed that “all writing is autobiography”, Tom Ford responds, “Isn’t there something always autobiographical, though? You’re writing the words these people are speaking; they have to go through your filter, even if you’re imaging you are Jackie … Every time you write, you’re writing that character through your lens.” Lonergan, on the other hand, points out that “interests do exist outside of oneself, and [so does] trying to understand them and see patterns in the world that other people don’t see, simply because everyone sees the world from his or her own point of view.”
When discussing his transition from actor to writer, Taylor Sheridan admits that he “had a lot of trouble buying myself an actor … But as a writer, you finish, you have something tangible, whether or not it gets made.” Asked about advice for writers, Lonergan gives the great suggestion of, “my own advice to myself is to try to choose a specific over a generality when I’m struggling.” Oppenheim, additionally, talks about balancing his career as a producer on “The Today Show” with being a screenwriter,
For me, the most interesting responses come as Stephen Galloway asks each writer what their dream project would be, with Almodovar mentioning, “ ‘The Aspern Papers‘ by Henry James.” To the same question, Shroeder responds, “I would like to do a Bond. I’m thinking about the Bond girls and how I’m going to change them and make them revolutionary. At some point, they’re going to save him.”
I wish these film roundtables were a year round experience, considering this will be the last one ’til next award season. Check out the full hour plus screenwriters roundtable talk.