48 Directing On The Page from Why Researching Screenwriters Has Always Mattered [Video] (1 minute 3 seconds)

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48 Directing On The Page from Why Researching Screenwriters Has Always Mattered

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…And that’s very important why, when we’re teaching screenwriting — It’s funny. People who come from a directing background like to teach that writers shouldn’t “direct on the page.” Don’t say things about where the camera should go. Don’t say how the actor is feeling. Don’t talk casually. But in fact, most of the screenwriters who sell and win Oscars are people whose voice is so recognizable. Aaron Sorkin sounds like Aaron Sorkin in everything he does. Every single piece of action is as if you are sitting there talking to him. Right? William Goldman did that. most of the big names — Nora Ephron — who was a major American female screenwriter. Their personality comes through in the lines and they do tell the director “I need this. I need this closeup. I want this moment. This is exactly what needs to happen here. Those are the screenplays that do sell because a person at a studio has to read the thing and envision the movie. If they don’t see it. They don’t buy it and they don’t make it. So that piece of advice has never worked for me.

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A Note About This Presentation

A clip from my keynote speech at the 10th Screenwriters´(hi)Stories Seminar for the interdisciplinary Graduation Program in “Education, Art, and History of Culture”, in Mackenzie Presbyterian University, at São Paulo, SP, Brazil, focused on the topic “Why Researching Screenwriters (has Always) Mattered.” I was especially pleased with the passion these young scholars have toward screenwriting and it’s importance in transmitting culture across the man-made borders of our world.

To understand the world we have to understand its stories and to understand the world’s stories we must understand the world’s storytellers. A century ago and longer those people would have been the novelists of any particular country but since the invention of film, the storytellers who reach the most people with their ideas and their lessons have been the screenwriters. My teaching philosophy is that: Words matter, Writers matter, and Women writers matte, r so women writers are my focus because they have been the far less researched and yet they are over half the population. We cannot tell the stories of the people until we know what stories the mothers have passed down to their children. Those are the stories that last. Now is the time to research screenwriters of all cultures and the stories they tell because people are finally recognizing the work of writers and appreciating how their favorite stories took shape on the page long before they were cast, or filmed, or edited. But also because streaming services make the stories of many cultures now available to a much wider world than ever before.

Many thanks to Glaucia Davino for the invitation.


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