Writer/Director Brian Koppelman Talks Screenwriting, Rewriting, and 'Breaking In'
Writers write. That sounds so painfully obvious, but more than anything, that two-word fact/idiom/mantra forces me to sit down every (week)day and do something that resembles writing. For some filmmakers, they end up becoming writers as a way to see their visions become reality on the screen. For others, writing comes first and filmmaking becomes the natural outlet for their storytelling. Writer/director/producer Brian Koppelman (Solitary Man, The Girlfriend Experience, Ocean’s Thirteen, Rounders) falls into the latter category. In an interview with myPDFscripts, Koppelman reveals his natural instinct for writing, how he approaches the rewriting process, and gives advice to aspiring screenwriters. You can read highlights from his interview here:
NFS readers may be happy to know that Koppelman didn’t go to film school to launch his filmmaking career, but was instead had an instinctual drive to write stories:
Well, writing was the point of entry for my filmmaking partner David Levien and me. We didn’t go to film school. Didn’t study camera. But always loved films and the way language was used in films. We were both also committed readers of fiction from our early teen years forward. Writing was just always the starting point for us. This seems like an appropriate place to make this point: almost all of it is instinctive for me. I loved to write. Needed to write. Was happier writing than doing anything else. That lead to getting movies made. Which lead to a desire to direct, to tell the whole story… None of it has ever been planned out in advance.
The approaches to rewriting a script are as numerous as there are screenwriters, so I’m always curious to hear how professional screenwriters approach this part of the process. Koppelman’s writing/rewriting style sounds very fluid:
I don’t separate the writing from the rewriting. It is all one thing. I rewrite as I go, by reading up to the starting place as often as I can. And then, at the end of a draft, I wait a day, print and read with a pen, do those changes right away. And then put the script down for a week, read again on paper with a pen. And when we get notes, we absorb them, decipher, to the best of our ability, their true meaning, and then dive in.
As always, aspiring screenwriters like myself are looking for that piece of advice from professional screenwriters that will push us in a new direction. Here’s Koppelman’s simple and straightforward advice:
The only thing of real value I have to convey about this is: everything changed for me when I decided to commit a couple of hours each morning to writing. People want to know the secret to ‘success’ or ‘breaking in.’ I never thought about any of that. Or if I did, it was secondary or tertiary to just figuring out how to tell the story I wanted to tell. That’s it. Find a story you have to tell and tell it as well as you know how. And then do it again.
To read the entire interview with Brian Koppelman, check it out at myPDFscripts.
Was writing the starting point for you to get into filmmaking, or have you become a writer to further your filmmaking career? How do you approach rewriting your scripts? Tell us your stories so we can learn from our collective experiences.
[via The Story Department]