Check Out These Filmmaking Tips from 'The World's End' Director Edgar Wright
Earlier this month, we shared the online interactive screenplay for Shaun of the Dead, as well as a bunch of behind-the-scenes videos for the whole Cornetto Trilogy that Focus Features shared to gear fans up for today’s U.S. release of The World’s End. The cult following for these films is growing, thanks to the satirical humor, witty banter, and surprisingly well-rounded characters. Director Edgar Wright’s thoughts on filmmaking have been aggregated by Film School Rejects, so if you’re in need of a quick dose of cinematic education before you venture out to see The World’s End, check out what someone who has managed to amass quite a hefty following has to say about the craft.
Film School Rejects does a great job at gathering Wright’s thoughts and opinions on filmmaking. Below are a few that stuck out as especially important for independent filmmakers.
Success Knows No Age
I’m only 27, but I definitely thought that I’d be deep in the throes of cinematic passion by now. I actually have a note in my phone that I read whenever I feel like my career is taking too long to blossom that says something along the lines of, “Time will only make you better.”
If you’re young and starting out, I’m sure, at least most of you, dream about being that amazing filmmaking wunderkind. I know that was my dream. But, a career in filmmaking is like life: things ebb and flow and change and die. You’re not the same person at 20 that you are at 30 — or 40 — or 70. Every year you’re alive provides another tool to use in your art — it’s just a matter of finding it. Wright says:
You can either be Sam Raimi and make Evil Dead at 18, or you can be Tarantino and make it at 32. And I’m sure there are plenty of people who made their first film even later than that.
Whether you’ve been making films for 20 years with no results, or have just picked up a camera for the first time as a 50-something, time, unbridled though it may be, is your friend.
In the video below, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost join Wright on the topic of screenwriting. Pegg urges screenwriters to be meticulous when writing. Now, I’m a huge advocate for letting your imagination go wild on that first draft — not stopping to edit or organize. Just get your story on the page.
However, once you come back to rewrite, like Pegg says, God is in the details. One of my favorite scripts to study is The Silence of the Lambs, because the amount of unity attained, given the staggering amount of detail in that script, is just amazing. Wright advises screenwriters to be methodical, plotting out each plot point and having a proper character and story arc.
However, this style isn’t for everyone. Many of us see story structure as cell bars that hold us back from our imagination — some of us find the restrictions helpful — even inspiring. Whatever your method is, paying close attention to whether or not the story makes sense to your audience is a lesson we should all embrace (save for avant-garde filmmakers, perhaps.)
Recognize How You’re Earning The Moment
It’s easy to give people what they want — or so it seems. Wright talks about taking your time, playing on the emotions of your audience — seducing them. Sure, you can give them what they want immediately — in this case, chopping off heads and gouging eyes in the first 5 minutes. But, often times that method gets tired (think of all the slasher films you’ve seen) and giving your audience a thrill means withholding what they want. You have to earn that moment of surprise, awe, or fear.
When we had a Shaun of the Dead test screening, the first really big reactions in it were in the garden scene right as the first death. It got a really good reaction. Somebody involved in it said, ‘Get to that first garden scene. Cut down the first half hour and get to that first garden scene. That’s where the laughs are.’ I said, ‘But haven’t we earned the laughs?’ Isn’t that the point? You’ve lulled people into a false sense of security, or you’ve taken time to get to know the characters.
To learn more about filmmaking according to Edgar Wright, check out the rest of the list here.
What do you think about Edgar Wright’s thoughts on filmmaking? Let us know in the comments below.