Cinematographer John Seale has been one of the best in the business for decades, and has an Oscar for “The English Patient.” At age 70, he found himself in the Namibian desert shooting one of the year’s most startling films, “Mad Max: Fury Road.” He joined Variety’s David Cohen to explain what it was like to shoot a film that had been planned for 10 years, but didn’t even have a proper script.
Noted playwright, screenwriter, and probably the most famous television writer during its so-called golden age of live TV, Paddy Chayefsky is one of the most revered contemporary American writers. Here are some interview excerpts taken from the book “The Craft of the Screenwriter.”
“The three-act structure is the form that I grew up in the theater with. You generally present a situation in Act I, and by the end of Act I the situation has evolved to a point where something is threatening the situation. In Act II you solve that problem producing a more intense problem by the end of Act II. In Act III you solve that problem, either happily or unhappily, depending on whether you have a comedy or a tragedy or a drama: you work out the final solution accordingly.”
“If it should occur to you to cut, do so. That’s the first basic rule of cutting. If you’re reading through and stop, something is wrong. Cut it. If something bothers you, then it’s bad. Cut it. If you can cut inside the speech, you’re really cutting most effectively.
“It’s purifying, it’s refining. Making it precise. Precision is one of the basic elements of poetry. My own rules are very simple. First, cut out all the wisdom; then cut out all the adjectives. I’ve cut some of my favorite stuff. I have no compassion when it comes to cutting. No pity, no sympathy. Some of my dearest and most beloved bits of writing have gone with a very quick slash, slash, slash. Because something was heavy there. Cutting leads to economy, precision, and to a vastly improved script.”
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What if Anne Frank hadn’t kept a diary? What if no one could listen to Martin Luther King’s Mountaintop speech? What if the camera hadn’t been rolling during the first moon landing? Actively listening to the voices of the past and the people who matter to us is important, and StoryCorps wants you to lend your voice to history, too. Here’s how.
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