March 15, 2019

Taika Waititi on Being Hilarious as a Person and a Writer

Taika Waititi wants you to conquer imposter syndrome, one page at a time. 

One thing I think we all have battled from time to time is imposter syndrome. It can strike anyone but gets to people trying to break into the industry. Lots of time, you want to be a good enough writer or director to break in, but you also want to be welcomed and to belong. We even heard Taika talk about that at SXSW this year

There's a fine line to walk when it comes to confidence, and that might be a line that never goes away. 

In his recent talk with BAFTA Guru, Taika Waititi talks about how he battles his self-doubt and imposter syndrome when he's sitting down to write something new. 

Let's break it down. 

Crushing Self Doubt v. Triumph 

It sounds cliche, but I like to take writing one page at a time. Whether you're a pro, an amateur, or somewhere in between, you have to remember that writing is a process. 

Waititi talks about how hard it is writing alone. It's a solitary process. That means he tries to set goals and rewards himself as he gets deeper into the draft. 

His other trick is to keep writing no matter what. Even if it feels like it's not going anywhere, or even if it's just ten pages of dialogue, it's essential to get your nuggets out and then to refine them.  

He also likes to be comfortable. For him, that's at home. And then listening to music, he relates to the theme or characters. 

This gives him little victories that get him through the first draft. 

Write by hand

For his first draft, Waititi likes to write it all out by hand. He says he's not great at formatting, so he wants to do everything long-form and then edit and rewrite as he types the pages into his screenwriting software

Keep The Audience Engaged 

Waititi says he found his voice by doing stand up and shows. Once he understood how to control emotions and laughs, he tried to do the same thing on the page. That means his written style embraces his weirdness and specificity.

He doesn't classify himself as a comedian but as someone who likes to write light dramas. And he loves films with sad endings.  

That makes him feel like he's writing about important ideas and deeper themes. Those themes help the audience connect to his films and connect with his inner message. 

Check out the whole Taika video below! 

What's your favorite Taiki work? Are there specific lessons you gleaned that you're excited to share? 

Remember, character arcs need to be built from conflict. So take a look at our internal and external conflict post for ideas of the kinds of situations you can put your characters inside that will force them to an arc. And don't forget about the six emotional arcs that you can use to help your screenwriting as well. 

These kinds of stories span film and television.  It's important to think about the kinds of changes and how they'll carry over a movie, an episode, a season, and a series. 

Got a great idea for a pilot or a feature? 

We have a Free Screenwriting Seminar and a Free Drama Pilot Seminar to help you get it out onto the page. 

Let us know in the comments!      

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