'Mud' Writer/Director Jeff Nichols Reveals How His Characters Drive the Writing Process
Earlier this year, I posted excerpts from my conversation with Jeff Nichols at the 20th Austin Film Festival and Conference, thanks to the generosity of AFF. Reading parts of the interview is nice, but I honestly believe you need to hear Jeff Nichols share his thoughts on writing and filmmaking in his own words. Now, thanks to AFF's OnStory podcast, you get that chance. Using specific examples from his three films Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, and Mud, Jeff Nichols talks about his approach to characters and writing/directing, and he also hints at how his upcoming film Midnight Special will be different from his previous work.
Here's the Austin Film Festival OnStory podcast, A Conversation with Jeff Nichols. If you have not already subscribed to the OnStory podcast, do that now via iTunes or RSS. Also, rate and review the OnStory podcast on iTunes so more screenwriters and filmmakers like you can find it.
Nichols goes into depth on the origins of his characters and how these characters spark the ideas for his stories. He also reveals that he doesn't follow a traditional three-act structure or even a straightforward outline as he puts his stories together. Rather, he tries to find the "flow" of the story and builds the drama based on what his characters need to do next. Some writers shy away from talking about their writing process, but Nichols goes into great detail about his writing style. He explains how he uses note cards to capture story snippets and the serendipity of tossing two note cards next to each other that eventually evoke a connected sequence in his mind.
If you don't have time to listen, you can certainly read excerpts from our two previous posts from this conversation with Jeff Nichols, but you will get much more detail and a richer experience listening to Nichols talk so candidly about his work, his challenges and his "experiments" in storytelling, as he refers to his films.
Once again, our thanks to Austin Film Festival and its OnStory podcast for continuing to provide rich content from working screenwriters and filmmakers so that all of us can learn and improve our own craft.