Monday, 13 January 2014

Screenwriting advice - Sheldon Turner

Sheldon Turner is the prototype for the smart, brash, ambitious young screenwriter - only he's also got a law degree from NYU and has had his fiction published in The New Yorker

Turner broke through with his script for the remake of The Longest Yard, starring Chris Rock and Adam Sandler. He has since worked on Up In the Air and X-Men: First Class, among others. 

Sheldon has insane discipline, writes longhand, and boycotts email. He figured out how to work the system, and he's got more witty axioms for how to play the Hollywood game than a Tropicana craps dealer at 3:00am. But you'll just have to hear Turner talk to get it.


1 comment:

Kathy Smart said...

Sheldon Turner provides a fountain of quotable quotes.

He is inspired by crappy screenplays. One sold for $3m to Sony and he pasted its 2 worst pages to his walls and wrote, fueled by rage.

Sheldon Turner reads 5 newspapers a day, a script a day, and a book a week. He gets up at 3:57 to go an hour's writing before going to the gym, because no one calls him at 4 in the morning. He says he is motivated by guilt and fear.

Inspiration comes in solitude. Turn off the TV and radio. Figure out themes.

According to Mr Turner, there are 2 kinds of writer: the mechanical writer and the instinctive writer.

Something can sound good in a pitch but not work well on a page.

Never go longer than 2 lines of action. Give a breezy, quick read.

When stuck, keep writing. If you slow down, like riding a bike, you fall off.

He says screenwriters should not be in courses learning to do what everyone else does. They should be writing.

Screenwriting is 40% about writing, the rest is differentiating yourself, being good in a room.

I find this advice to be negative and soul-destroying. The only thing I have to admit, though, is that Mr Turner is selling and I am not.