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It was a pleasure sitting down in front of some microphones with Lucas Cuny who now teaches Film, TV, and media full time at San Bernardino Valley College.
He also hosts this podcast interviewing people from those areas and he invited me to be the first guest of his second season.
We had the chance to chat about my background as well as the state of the media industry today – and I had the chance to relish the success of this former MFA candidate of mine. One of the best things about being a professor is seeing careers take off like Lucas’ has.
Rosanne Welch is a screenwriter, author, professor, and all around iconoclast in the field of media education. She wrote on Beverly Hills 90210, written a book about The Monkees, but got her start as a teacher. Hear her journey from the classroom to the writers room.
I had typed out one of those quotes I tend to use all the time –
“So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.”
— and in my habit I wanted to credit the writer of the quote, which we all know comes from the movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, adapted by David Seltzer from the book by Roald Dahl.
My question became “Did that line come from the book OR the film OR both?” I couldn’t find any clarification on that right away – but I did find this great NPR interview with Seltzer about how he changed the ending of the film because the director felt “It ends with the word, yippee? He said that’s not a screen play. That’s not a movie. You can’t do that” so Seltzer rewrote the ending to be this:
Mr. SELTZER: It ends with the word, yippee? He said that’s not a screen play. That’s not a movie. You can’t do that.
COHEN: So, what did you do?
Mr. SELTZER: I said, well, let me think about it. You know, how long do I have? He said, how long? We’re standing here. It’s $30,000 an hour. You tell me. And, I said, well, give me a second. And I think it was about 6 in the morning. And I walked down, literally, looked over the lake in Maine. I thought, what the hell am I going to do? My head space was totally out of this movie. I could barely remember what had led up to this but I thought, OK, it’s a fairy tale. It’s a children’s story, and how do children’s stories end? I don’t know. How could – how do they end? They end with, they all lived happily ever after. But that’s not good. That’s not what a screenwriter writes. And so I took a deep swallow and I went to the phone. I said, Mel, OK, listen carefully. They’re going up in the spaceship and looking at the ground disappear. And Willy Wonka announces to Charlie that the chocolate factory is his. Then, Willy Wonka looks at him and he says, but Charlie – in a very cautious voice – you do know what happened to the little boy who suddenly got everything he ever wanted, don’t you? And fear comes across Charlie’s face and he says, no, what? And Willy says, he lived happily ever after. And it was a long pause, and I thought my career as a screenwriter is over.
One of the biggest things that makes me so excited is people are beginning to read screenplays as literature.
The script isn’t just a blueprint. We’re going to read the action lines, the dialogue, and we’re going to hear the voice of the writer in a way that we can’t on screen.
Great TV and Movies are built around the theme, you have to have friends. You have to have friends you can trust.
Look how powerful that has been. We need that message.
We go to movies and television shows – we go to stories – to learn that message.
Writers are important.
Writer comes before director when people are writer-directors because writers are more important. You cannot direct some people walking around a room.
Somebody has to say why they’re there and what they’re doing.
My simple philosophy…
Women Writers Matter.