Nothing is scarier than the blank page, so how do professional writers react to prompts, writer's block, and studio notes?
As writers, it can be hard to start something and even push to the finish. But the second you become a pro in Hollywood, that's your job. People pay you the big bucks to finish work. But we rarely get a glimpse at how a professional writer stares at the blank page, come up with ideas and makes adjustments on the fly.
Well....today is different.
Vanity Fair sat Emily Carmichael (writer of Pacific Rim: Uprising and Jurassic World 3) in front of a computer, gave her a prompt., and asked her to write a scene in just 7 minutes. Check out the full challenge from Vanity Fair and let's regroup after the video.
I think the major lesson in this video is how Emily attacks every scene. We've talked before about how to write a scene, but every writer has their own strategy. It's fun to watch Emily attack certain beats, and then rewrite from the top. Her character brainstorming is also very intuitive. She goes from the prompt but immediately gives each person a personality and character development.
Once she has a loose structure for the scene she kicks into things she loves, like chases. Writing from a place or strategy you love can keep even the most tedious work interesting.
The other value point in this video is how she adapts to the notes. In showbiz, we often talk about the "note behind the note." That means we are more concerned with why the audience or executive acted or reacted a certain way than the reason they provided. Maybe they hate a line of dialogue because we don't set it up earlier. Maybe they don't love a set piece because it actually feels repetitive.
So on and so forth.
Emily pivots like a pro and it's fun to see her deliver on the fly. It also clues amateur writers in on how collaborative the process can be within Hollywood. Most of the time you have notes coming from several different directions. Plus you'll have a director and line producer telling you what you can afford, who's cast, and what they want out of their character as well.
Either way, challenge yourself to rise to Emily's prowess. What can you accomplish in only seven minutes?
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