Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Richard Curtis: Screenwriters Lecture

Richard Curtis (About Time, War Horse, The Boat That Rocked, Love Actually, Bridget Jones's Diary, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral) delivers the last of the 2013 screenwriting lectures for BAFTA, in which he discusses style, inspiration and creative control.


1 comment:

Kathy Smart said...

These screenwriters lectures were created early on when it was acceptable to have a 45 second credit beginning and a further 20 second introduction which was identical for all the lectures. By the time we are being told we will be inspired it is 1:18 and we don't hear or see Richard Curtis until 2:25.

Nevertheless this one is worth the wait. Here are pieces of advice from screenwriting great Richard Curtis:
*Never do a project unless is has been planned for a long time
*Make sure collaborators love the work
*Choose the people you work with carefully
*Only write about what you know personally
*Stick to what is true to your experience and right for you
*A major challenge to screenwriters is control
*Try to be there when the film is made otherwise other people will make the film and it will be the wrong film

Mr Curtis only thought about why he wrote the films he did for the purpose of giving this lecture. He says you can't change your style. You need to listen to your instincts and your heart. He identifies with romantic love, friendship and family, the things he feels most deeply about. Mr Curtis does not believe that falling in love is sentimental and unrealistic. He says stories of joy and love are worth telling.

On a practical level, Mr Curtis begins by writing a long prose description which is not a treatment in the accepted sense of the word. He then puts incidents on cards and eventually begins writing. He considers editing to be an important part of the writing process and gives an example of how Bridget Jones was rewritten in the editing phase to make it a much stronger story.

Hints for writing:
*You can sum up what the film is about in the dialogue
*Underline the parts that make you laugh, keep them
*To improve humour, increase the humour in the already funny parts
*When stuck, come up with 5 alternatives to get going again
*Script can be revised bits at at time by character, or plot, or particular relationships
*Love yourself as a screenwriter: a 99% failure is a triumph
*Be proud of and hopeful of and observant for anything that's good