Thursday 28 August 2014

Interview with Gordy Hoffman

Gordy Hoffman is a screenwriter, director, teacher and the founder of the BlueCat Screenplay Competition. Winner of the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the Sundance Film Festival for Love Liza (2002), Gordy made his feature directorial debut with his script A Coat of Snow (2005), which world premiered at the Locarno International Film Festival.
     He has conducted screenwriting workshops all over North America, Poland and the UK, and has served as a panelist for the IFP Script to Screen Conference, Women in Film’s Script Conference, the George Eastman House Film Festival, as well as a judge for the McKnight Screenwriting Fellowships in Minnesota. He sits on the Professional Advisory Board of the Film and Media Studies Department at the University of Kansas.

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?

I was born in Rochester, New York, and spent my childhood there.

What kind of a family did you grow up with?

I am one of four children, and had wonderful friends in our neighborhood, where I spent my childhood running around outside.

Where did you go to school?

I am a proud graduate of the University of Kansas.  Rock Chalk, Jayhawk!

When did you first take an interest in writing?

My first memory was a writing assignment when I was in second grade. I loved how you could make up anything you wanted when you wrote.

What was your first paying job (in any field)?

Probably as a paper boy, but I was selling stuff to the kids in the neighborhood very early. I’m an entrepreneur!

What was your first paying job as a screenwriter?

I got an option, I think for $600, and some Dodger tickets. Haha.

I marvel at the fact that you were not a produced screenwriter when you started the BlueCat Screenwriting Competition. I don’t mean to be rude, but what were you thinking at the time?

I have no idea what I was thinking as I had only written Love Liza, but I’m so glad I did, because it’s been the best education any one could have.

What one aspect of the BlueCat Competition has given you the greatest satisfaction?

Supporting the people who do not win with our feedback. They love it and when they write us expressing how grateful they are, I know we are doing something important.

You wear multiple hats. Do you have a preference: would you rather be writing, directing or producing a movie?

I’m a filmmaker, and right now I simply want to direct what I write. That’s all I really have time for.

Despite having a famous brother, you have followed your own path in life. The two of you went to different schools and got involved in entertainment in different capacities. And though you beefed up the mother role with the intent of attracting Kathy Bates, Love Liza wasn’t written with Philip in mind. How did it come about that you worked together on that film?

I let him read it and he wanted to play the lead. This was before he had shot Boogie Nights (1997), that’s how long ago it was. I’m so glad we made that movie, as many people love it.

What are three things you wish someone had told you about making a living from screenwriting when you were starting out?

If you ultimately want to direct your own work, then you should not try to write for hire. Just make a film, then make the next one. That’s the shortest path.

Be humble with everyone you meet and don’t wait for others to follow up with them. You stay in touch and be polite.

If someone wants to hire you or buy your writing, make sure you get to join the WGA. Refuse to make the deal until they agree.

If you had to suggest just one screenwriting book to a newbie writer in Adelaide, which one would it be?

Read anything on Kurosawa talking about screenwriting.

What are your ten favorite (favorite, not ‘best’) movies of all time?
Animal House (1978)
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966)
La Dolce Vita (1960)
The Third Man (1949)
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Contempt (1963)
The Seven Samarai (1954)
Slap Shot (1977)
Baby Face (1933)
Rififi (1955)
These are off the top of my head!

What’s next for Gordy Hoffman?

I’m writing a feature for Abigail Spencer and we plan to shoot in 2015.
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1 comment:

Unknown said...

Gordy Hoffman sounds like a smart, hard working director who just wants to write and make movies. Another interesting interview, Henry. I can't believe you even found the basketball chant!