Thanks to the gracious invitation from my Screenwriting Research Network colleague Paolo Russo – and a grant he was able to procure (and in the before-Covid time) I was able to spend a week at Oxford Brookes University working with the screenwriting masters students in Paolo’s course. At the culmination of the week, I gave this lecture on how writers rooms worked in the States.
And I think that writing what you know emotionally is an important thing to think about because you have to be comfortable doing that to be a writer. Tennessee Williams, who is a famous American playwright, once said that writers write from the first — the emotions of the first six years of their lives. Which I kind of thought was like, how do you make that up and then I look back at a bunch of scripts I’ve written in my life and I have this recurrent theme which is telling men that they should be good fathers — that raising — that having a child doesn’t make you a man — raising a child makes you a man. I’ve used that line several times accidentally in different scripts. My dad left when I was six. So either Tennessee Williams was right or that’s a nice coincidence. I don’t know but that’s an important thing to remember. You don’t just have to write the history of the life you’ve led. It’s the history of the emotions you’ve lived. That can bring you anywhere right because JK Rowling didn’t go to Hogwarts. She doesn’t do magic but she understood being lonely as a child right.
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