Full Writers Roundtable: Jordan Peele, Darren Aronofsky, Emily V. Gordon | Close Up With THR



hi I'm Stephen gallo and welcome to close up with The Hollywood Reporter the writers I'd like to introduce Jordan Peele and McCartin fatty Akeem Aaron Sorkin Darren Aronofsky and Emma levy Gordon welcome I won't start with this there are hurricanes there're dictators with nuclear bombs what is collapsing why right I'm not sure that writers are the best place people to be diagnosed to sit diagnosticians but we certainly role I think is to entertain and to inform a large part of our workers research and and trying to look at both parts of any argument the old dialectic that goes back to Plato show two sides of an argument and it's one of my big main ambitions is to enter complex situations where there seems to be one obvious answer and put two opposing ideas into conflict and see what happens and that's really that the seed of all drama really is that is to equal and opposite ideas colliding and so that's what we do and and what happens in the phenomena that result from that collision is not in our control and I think drama is best when it shows the effects of those that collision and then stands back and allows the audience to make it not in your control you may not be happy as the writer with what what the phenomena that results from these ideas so you might enter a project thinking will I have this fixed position and this is my this is my object of this particular project and and then when you create an antagonist and you charge that antagonist with ideas that are viral and strong and convincing you start to unhinging and crack open your own certainties and you and when you've done your job really well as a writer the perfect a sort of the mercial states who end up and it is uncertainty yourself Hitler will not insist on outrageous terms he will know his own weaknesses he will be we more dictators must be images before me you cannot reason with a tiger when your head is in its mouth after 9/11 I felt for a while like I had the dumbest job in the world I felt useless in the face of everything that was going on and all the heroes that there were and I don't feel that way today I feel like that the best delivery system ever invented for an idea as a story and that that the stories just represented at this table have been so powerful and so useful and as timeless as they are they speak directly to the time that we're living I think that's completely where I started with my project was I don't often walk into the field of politics and what's happening in the world and I was just feeling tremendous frustration about where we were it was the eighth year of Obama ironically but just leaning into environmental issues everyone was talking about the summer that we just had about to happen so it was strange to release mother you know as all of these travesties were happening here firsthand you know there was this one viral video I saw of a bunch of tourists in South America carrying around a baby dolphin and taking selfies and they murdered and that is reflected exactly in my film for anyone who's seen it where they carry around the baby and so it was weird for me because I've never really just been like you know what I'm gonna make a reflection of what's happening most of my things within character studies and this was the first time I decided to sort of sort of do a reflection and then it's interesting where you said because the reactions you get are often from all over the place I think people come in with so many of their own different opinions I've had everything from you know this is a anti-immigration film you know this is a portrait of Mother Earth – this is about the creative process in releasing your film to the world and having it devoured by audiences and stuff so which i think is great I like when there's so many different interpretations and conversations about the work that's always always the goal is you want to continue to have people thinking about it and talking has anybody said anything about your work that actually made you see it differently well I think that one the and it was mote it was a lot of female artists came up and started with marina abramovic and then a couple of female directors were producing and working with they sort of had a very similar interpretation that it was the baby was a symbol of creating a piece of art which I'd never saw it I was much more direct to the allegory of the biblical references of it but a lot of people saw it that way and also the celebrity thing about making something about a commentary on on celebrity and fame I was much more interested in worship from you know biblical perspective as opposed to modern celebrity but I think that had to do with Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem Michelle Pfeiffer who deal with that in their lives so people start to see that in the film things that I didn't expect but they come out Emily why right I think my career before this was as a therapist and so I for many years my job was to help clients kind of feel less alone like in a room with them one on water in groups and I what was fascinating to me is I kind of transitioned into writing was that that is another way to kind of help people feel less alone and help people kind of raise their empathy level so that is always to me that is why right when I'm justifying why switch careers it's to help people feel less alone and to help people feel like they're being seen in some regard and as to what you were saying that's I have the same instinct as coming from a therapist and just in general that everyone is just doing the best they can even if they're a bad guy and so why is that why does that person think that's the correct course of action and really kind of digging into that and then coming out to that uncertainty of like oh you think you're right also yeah and that kind of taking you back and and causing you to rethink everything that you know I I think that's such a lovely thing for me personally and I I if I can ever create anything that helps other people feel that way that's that's why I write is writing therapeutic for you it can be it depends on what you're writing about I think some days you don't want it to be and some days yeah you feel like you're kind of exercising a demon but you don't also want everything you have to be at least for me connected to like this very intense cathartic experience you want to connect to it emotionally but not have it kind of ring you out your film is actually an autobiographical does that that one ring me up is it tough to bring yourself to write it or was it actually helpful it had been five years since the events of the film and I think that helps tremendously because you're far enough away that you can kind of look at it and still kind of feel it but not so much that it's overwhelming you because I think if you see someone create a piece of art while they're still in the throes of going through something you can always kind of tell because it feels – it feels like you're looking it feels too vulnerable for you to be watching which it can be beautiful but we didn't want this to feel like a an overly intense kind of movie that you feel in danger while you're watching we wanted you to kind of see that we've gotten a little bit of emotional distance and so I think to me that's where this movie came from is us having enough emotional distance but not so much that it felt like the distant past it didn't happen just woohoo do you it's supported okay that's a common misconception yelling anything at a comedian is considered heckling heckling doesn't have to be negative so if I if I yelled out like you're amazing in bed that'd be heck oh yeah it'll be an accurate tackle now you can't be precious with your own history because it it's if you saw a movie what actually happened to my husband and I'm it would be a terrible movie and you would not enjoy it and so taking this actual real-life event that touched you and was very important to you and creating a story from it it's always a challenge and not and also realizing that just because something was important to you personally that doesn't mean it belongs in the movie and that doesn't mean that it's gonna translate so what we would try to do was if there was a scene that was incredibly important to us it happened like three or four times like this moment was like meant everything to us and we would either write it and it didn't work one of them we filmed and it just as we were filming really this is so stupid this will never be in this movie finding a lateral move like what were the emotions why was this so important what were we feeling what was happening and then can we craft a scene that accomplishes that because this exact moment of you coming into my hospital room and watching Groundhog Day with me on a laptop it's not really giving us the all that we screen and finding other ways to kind of show that so that I think that was the most challenging thing was understanding that your story just because it's your story is not gospel did you write because you like the fun of doing a horror story or because you wanted to convey ideas about racism it it began as the fun of a horror story I wanted to I want to lose my favorite genre I wanted to have fun while writing and it turned you know in the middle of the process it turned into something more important the power of story is that it is one of the few ways we can really feel empathy and encourage empathy built into the idea of story is the idea that you have a protagonist when you have a protagonist the whole trick that all of us are trying to do is bring the audience into that protagonists eyes behind their eyes and so this is you know a well-crafted story and a good story is one of the few ways we can really not tell somebody you have to feel for somebody else but make somebody feel because they're there experiencing it through entertainment sir can I see your license please I didn't ask who was driving I asked to see his ID yeah why that doesn't make any sense you you don't have to give him your ID cuz you haven't done anything wrong maybe be meeting some people anytime there is an incident we have every right to asshole ma'am that's the power of cinema but you can you know make a film about a six year old girl in Iran or an 80 year old guy in UK and if the filmmaking is working you can completely connect with them I think when I was watching get out in the theatre the first time and I was an audience mostly white people and at the end of the movie when the police car pulls up and the lights go on I heard the audience go No and I thought what a great thing that we've gotten an audience of mostly white people to be like upset about seeing a cop car because they know this is not going to be good until Norrell pops but I thought what if that's a great exercise in empathy that everyone suddenly got why that was such a awful thing to happen in that moment whereas normally the police car means everything's gonna be fine like everything the problems are solved I thought that was such an amazing exercise and Emma thank you you know the I was worried at several stages during the writing of the movie that this would be this horribly divisive project where you know I thought I thought maybe I'd lose black people because it's where you know we're victims in the movie and that's hard to watch that's not fun maybe I'd lose white people because white people are the villains in the movie and that would be an assault that would be and so but I I stuck with it and one of the you know just the most um fulfilling and validating things to see was how an audience you know would sort of go in you know with their different preconceived notions of what the film were but by the middle they were all Chris they were all the main character and that's kind of the really good horror movie I'm I'm curious is it I had heard that there was a time in your writing process when the police car showed up and it was the police and it was the bad ending that we all feared is is that true so that's true I wrote the movie primarily during the post-racial lie so the Obama era when everyone was saying hey we're past racism right we did it we did and the the the notion of sort of bringing up racism was almost thought of as like the perpetuating ant uh-huh and so the movie was originally meant to be a more direct brutal wake-up call to say no the the the horror movie guess what the horror movie with a black protagonist the cops showing up at the end is it different that's that's a different thing and it became very clear by showing people the movie that they want they needed a hero they needed they needed an a the movie to be an escape what I love about the current ending is that moment you're talking about where the the police show up the audience does all the work of the original ending and then I so let's have my cake and eat it too hey it's exactly right when you go into storage you know the ending in advance when you start right I think you ought to in a perfect world because everything is the rest of the writing work then becomes a preparation for that perfect ending I often find that that riders who disavow the importance of an ending are just not very good at endings and so they you know they fudge it and they try to raise the quality of other elements of storytelling but but to me it's critical to know what you're working towards so that you can fade and faint away from that and take the audience away and mislead and do all those there's just craft things that are so important to a great stew you agree with that fatty it's different from screenplay depends on the material with it with a last hole within the fate of fate one of the first images I had was the ending huh it was like okay how how I'm gonna have to write this to get to there so I was kind of like writing it backwards you know but sometimes sometimes it's completely different sometimes it's the opposite sometimes I start because I have a great idea for an opening but I don't know how to end it you've made very political films which inevitably must be divisive how do you react to hate mail people who disagree with you before this Ron tape began we were talking about one of your films your Turkish German but you made a film that was very sympathetic to the idea of the Armenian Genocide how did your family and friends react to that my my family loves me love me and they don't want me to get in any trouble and I am curious about trouble I like to be involved and kind of like trouble not trouble on the street but like writing something and I don't know provoked ate something I definitely believe in discussions you know if you if you go out go to the cinema and you come out and two people have two different opinions and they talk about it so you create a dialogue and I think you can solve everything with a dialogue and the Armenian Genocide is it's something which is it's based about fear there's a film by Nevada hispana you know the German filmmaker sure fear each soul essence either off and I believe in that you know and so I don't want I don't want that my fears get the eaten you know so hate mails and stuff don't really I force myself that I don't let them fear me you know [Applause] you couldn't have made that film in Turkey I don't suppose no I couldn't no I couldn't but that was not the film I get the most trouble for you know I just posted something on Instagram you know you mean the cut was not that it was not which one was I hadn't should no I just put something on Instagram which is and what is that about Kurdish freedom fighters in North Syria you know I would like to do a film about that because you have like these know female characters and they fight against Isis and this is somehow like fascinating me you know and I would this be to advance the idea of a Kurdish State yeah yeah yeah yeah well that's provocative yeah so do you mean injures it was a joke for that you know was like do you ever go back to Turkey to you are you ever threatened by anyone my parents live there and I cannot go there right now right now not maybe in the fuels of Earth again and the regime or yeah I feel safe in Germany yeah yeah yeah I there's this bus like because there are a lot of Turkish immigrants you know like somehow the conflict in Turkey you know swept over to to the – Turkish – it's not it's not so it's not that it's not that dangerous how the press or the media in Germany describes that there is not a real conflict between I don't see or feel the conflict between trucks and in Germany yet but I'm an artist I'm writing I'm at home and some of my computer so sometimes I'm a bit out of the streets so sometimes I I don't really know what's going on Karen did you think that your film would be as divisive as it is yeah I think we did we knew it was always going to be an assault of the senses and very intense but you know then again if you read any record any paper of record and you actually look past the headlines what happens in any a section of a newspaper is a lot more messed up than anything that's in my movie but I think once you put it into a house and put movie stars in front of it that you're empathizing with it becomes a different level intensity and that was the idea behind it but we knew it would be all over the place and a big explosion and we were excited about that we were excited to make a film that would have conversation and would have big debate it's all about you and your work you think that's gonna help you right nothing does I rebuilt this entire house wall-to-wall you haven't written a word no I know I'm sorry I can't I can write how do you handle the critiques do they hurt I don't fully Blau myself in front of them I I my mentor Stewart Rosenberg always said bad reviews heard good reviews are worse and I sort of live by that but in today's world because of just how connected everyone is you can't sort of escape information coming from different places and and and bombarding you so I have I have a sense of what's going on it doesn't upset me it excites me that you know people are arguing in discussions I think that's the sign that those are the films that inspired me the ones that people leave and you're just breaking down and figuring out and seeing different layers and you know seeing like all the different ways of thinking about something the fear for me is to be a disposable piece of cinema that you know it's like a McDonald's meal and the rapper goes in the trash and two hours later you're like wait what did I see and there's a lot of that that's definitely that's the Golden Age for the movies or is it for us to age well you know I feel like were laid for us right I feel like we're sort of entering a hopefully a new renaissance in fill in in film where we're you know the where tours are embraced you know I mean obviously we've been in this you know in a bit of era of the huge big you know big big huge special-effects movie and you know we've we all remember sort of I think better times for for us as artists in the film in the film industry so I think we're heading in a very good direction and you know I think you know Darren won what would I really cherish about your your films and your craft is that you you are able to show how diving into something completely stressful completely uncomfortable completely assaulting can still be entertainment and can still be fun and do and it's one of those things that does it have to be fun should it should be entertaining entertaining I think rule number one is you don't bore in audience you know you have to even if they're not enjoying themselves or they're off as long as they're engaged and they're with the character and they're following the plot and they're not sort of staring off into space or thinking about their second screen that's our goal and that that's the high oh do you how do we keep people from watching movies at home without a second sometimes third screen which is you know happening everywhere and and the only way to do that is to keep it coming and and to engage emotionally yes I don't like medicine movies that are like I'm supposed to get this lesson out of this movie that's why I want them to be entertaining whether or not I'm enjoying it or not enjoying it I want them to not just be like here's your lesson for today I want I took a real life story and adapted it what did you have to lose in the translation what changed the most you know listen when I do nonfiction it's it's not a documentary still I think I've used this metaphor with you before that that it's it's still a painting and not a photograph I use the parts that I need to tell the story that I kind of saw when I first started learning about this and I don't use the parts that i I don't need I can see you're getting warmed up but I really don't have the emotional bandwidth to defend my as usual irresponsible behavior I know I got your email I get that I'm not welcome in your life right now is your father though you should know I could give a I'm welcome or not but I'm not here and my capacity has your father I'm indifferent to whether your father if zordar's I'm a very expensive therapist and I'm here to give you one free session you think what I need right now is a therapist yeah I read a review of Molly's game in fact and it was a positive review and a critic noted that I've I've done a bunch of nonfiction movies in a row but what I really do is that I use these characters for parts and I make my own thing and and I read that and I went yeah I think I didn't do that I'm not sure if that was meant as a compliment I'm pretty sure I do do that so but is it okay take a real-life post and then then reinvent that person with the same name on screen is that morally okay yeah I I do ask myself that question I'm not indifferent at all to that question and I think that all of us have a kind of internal moral compass that we use i I have faith in mind in this particular case in the case of Molly blooms she was very involved in that I spent about six months talking to her babies were there writing to begun oh yeah I talked to her every day is she liked the film she did she saw it for the first time at the Toronto Film Festival obviously I you know I said we'll set up a screening room for you and for your family because you know her father plays a big role in the story too and she called me and she said you know we all meaning the whole Blum family we'd really love to see it with an audience you know have a real movie experience and and I said sure but I'd been cautioning her for a couple of years that there's nothing that's gonna be able to prepare you for this experience for someone as you said up on the screen named Molly bloom only it's Jessica Chastain and listen you know people we all know that life doesn't play itself out as a series of scenes that that form a perfect narrative people don't speak in dialogue these are these are movie things that make it a painting instead of a photograph so she and her family were their big fans of the movie never they're very much what changed the most in bringing church up to the screen what did you not convey about him that you would have liked to there's a really fine line between artistic license I think an artistic license is ness and there's minoo history is a lousy filmmaker it doesn't give you all the ingredients you need and and no story will quite fulfill that three of structure as as Aaron saying however you you're compelled to apply your imagination to a real-life story and if you don't it will be inert or it will be just a sequence like an action vast action sequences of the known and it won't tell you anything we don't already know from documentaries so but however there's a really fine line because if you say that Napoleon won the Battle of Waterloo your movie collapses the the tolerances of history are very similar to the tolerances of audiences and that if you breach that faith and you've got that before your movie starts based on a true story and you go over that red line which is indistinct and every writer will draw it in a different place and you you're really bravely saying I'm gonna go impressionistic my portraits I did I dared not do that with with Winston Churchill you know he's too beloved he's too iconic you can't do it with Lincoln I agree and you know I wouldn't if I writing all the presidents man yeah I wouldn't make anything up about the fall of a press in the United States well you know this this goes to you know really the conversation about genre as well because which I find completely fascinating that you know we we have we all think of we all have a structure in mind when we write a movie some three act structure for extracts or whatever it is but there's also conventions and ideas surrounding every genre with a thriller for example there's a contract with the audience before they even come in that they're going to see something up that they're gonna be scared tears yeah there's gonna be some jump scares and so you know it's you know Jean reduce sort of dictate a lot of the the rules in a weird way and I hate using the word rules because there are none but if you look at something like Inglourious Basterds which is you know theoretically a historical image the end of World War two but it works because it exists in its own genre of pope entertainment so that that's that's you know part of the reason the thriller genre to me is so alluring is because you're almost not doing it right if you're not pushing the boundaries of good taste and and darkness and sort of challenging an audience didn't though I'd you turn to me because I would say I mean in all that belong to Shawn yeah I don't I don't think so I don't think I've ever really sort of sat in genre – well you know pie was sort of an independent film – sort of sci-fi the fountain was I don't know what it was today The Wrestler my biggest letdown was the ESPN you mean letdown commercially No my biggest letdown personally because the ESPN wouldn't call it a sports movie so I couldn't get their trophy Black Swan was like people were like you know horror fans don't like ballet and ballet people don't like horror and also a sports movie – but ESPN didn't recognize yeah so I don't think I really fall into genre um but I do love genre and I love creating genre moments for an audience because I think you know audiences have expectations and when you sort of present them jump scares a thrilling moments in tension they completely go for it so littered throughout mother I kept falling into genre films but I think when it added up to everything you know it doesn't it doesn't really fit neatly into any of them I just don't I think when it comes out of me personally that's where my passions lie is to tell that type of story and just be truthful to to the allegory and to the emotion of the story and not necessarily fully service the genre did you ever think of doing your film with the drum a straight draw middle – comedy we we talked about it we actually didn't think that our movie was a rom-com until the marketing people started talking to us they were like oh okay we started seeing cuts of trailers and we were like oh I guess this is a rom-com I always thought a visit of like a funny family drama that's kind of how I thought of it and we had the same thing of like if we go into this like this is a comedy now comedy means four or five big huge set-piece action scenes like comedy means a very specific thing now unfortunate unfortunately drama also means a specific thing where maybe you can't make a 9/11 joke so I think I think for us we tried not to think about that but my head it was always like a very funny family move like movie about families and then when we saw all the marketing we were like Oh rom-com okay which to me is a very different set of expectations and it's just interesting and I my friend by the way hi was one of my favorite movies and my friend described it as brain horror rather than horror which is a great honor that might be much honor you would not do on film that you're scared to touch any subject no there are no limits I would try everything everything what would somehow it touches me whatever it is can be I don't know can be porn whatever it is have you ever tried pool I'm thinking about to write something but I didn't try it no have you ever asked that question in one of these rounds I was but I haven't when you got in the in the fade off the ground was it a difficult film to get made well actually it wasn't because the previous film I did before it was a film called goodbye Berlin it was a John Woo film it was for like German audience was based on a German novel it was box office in Germany so I could do in the faith like very easy it was a very quick financing you know like I financed the film wrote the film and I don't know shut the film in six months you know that was kind of like the fastest film I ever did what's been your toughest moment as a writer you know sometimes you spend years writing something you know give me one moment that you found really really tough but maybe you thought of giving up did you ever think of giving up in when there was no like iCloud thing you know once I wrote something for like 18 months and I have a problem with my computer osh and I lost a whole file it was like you have like a very old wine red wine like 200 years ago and the bottle broke it's much worse than your toughest moment Aaron listen most of the time I I really struggle with writing and people ask if I have writer's block that that's my default position so most days I go to bed not having done anything except kind of climb the walls because I don't have an idea or I'm stuck where I am and you you really do think even though you've been there many many times before and it's worked out you really do think in that moment you're not ever going to write again those are tough moments another tough moment is when you you see something in your head that's that's good that's really beautiful that that can work and you were just not able to so I won't dance for a fairly long career right with a woman witho I'm going to give up no no did anybody ever tell you you should give up that I should give no no I've been lucky I haven't had that there's so many struggling moments during making a movie the amount of nose you get as a filmmaker are every day endless and that's why the only films I know how to make are films that I just couldn't live without making them they're just burning from deep inside and and no matter what they are I just know I have to follow that feeling another thing Stuart Rosenberg said is you know you just try your hardest you know and then when you look back you can respect yourself for having tried the hardest at the time so that's kind of leverage do a franchise film you won't play we're talking about doing Batman yeah I've always been intrigued and interested in those I guess I've been lucky enough to have enough success with the pet each film that allows me to find an angle to make these films that I can sort of guarantee no one else on the planet wants to make which has always been for me the filmmakers I like are the filmmakers who clearly made the films but only they wanted to make whoever even if they weren't successful films or popular films if they just come from this singular voice and you know singular vision that sort of expands you know what cinema can be that's always been an inspiration I talked about forward tumour which is this idea if you're saying we're entering a gold nation and I want to separate film from television because I think everybody recognizes this is a great age in television is it really a great age in film with the Harvey Weinstein's but we're dealing with sexual harassment we're dealing with abuse right is a kind of the lowest person on the totem pole historically have you been abused by producers by the system any of you I know a film director who said he had a anti shout clause included and his deal with Harvey he said I'll do the movie but if that guy shouts the rights revert and apparently that was included it was unprecedented but it's an amazing clause ya know I haven't been abused by producer you've what was in tough produces Scott Rudin Scott in particular yeah has that ever become contentious listen I think Scott is a great producer in in the three phases where you need a great producer he is at least for me a terrific script editor I think I've done my best writing with Scott and he gets the movie made and he gets it made for the budget that you need and then he rides heard over a very sophisticated marketing campaign I've worked with Scott made country four and I hope I got a chance to work with him again a lot but we're where you need a Scott any of us at this table would have an easier time getting a hundred million dollar movie made than a ten million dollar movie studios are just much more comfortable making a hundred million dollar movie than a ten million dollar movie they're not quite sure how to market the ten million dollar movie and the Scots and the Harvey's are experts at at marketing those ten million dollar movies have you dealt a Darren and Emily with bullying with a conflict with situations you didn't think were ethically right in the business I have been lucky I mean I guess I had one very publicized fight with a studio you know over the final cut of Noah and there were a lot of pressures coming from not just commercial ends but you know personal religious beliefs as well and that was a rough journey to get through eventually you know because I get the films I'm a car so I guess strange and how I put them together they're very hard to sort of read jigsaw puzzle them into anything else so ultimately I ended up getting the film I wanted to make but you know I thought they were questionable ethics when you go into something very clear about what you want to make and everyone's upfront about it with incredible clarity that this is what we're making and it's signed off on and the screenplay is greenlit and you deliver that and then you know then you have to deal with pressures but I understand that that's also the game of making a film for one hundred and fifteen million dollars that you know that's a lot of money and people need to get their money back there just was no way I mean it comes down to testing for me that's where I have ethical issues because my films do not test Black Swan didn't test I just make these films that you know will you definitely recommend Black Swan you know it's not gonna happen because there's a lot of people who are just going to be that's too freaky and I think my films need a little bit of a marketplace and critical response to sort of set it up in the world so that's the only thing I've run into in my Emily um very sad to say I've been lucky I guess I hate saying to say no it's a bummer that I have to say oh I've been lucky I have been lucky and that I have not experienced any direct personal harassment or abuse I I mean especially for this film which was my first film I realized now looking back and talking to other people that we were taken on both my husband and I were taken on as like we were part of the team that was doing everything and I think I know that that's rare and I'm imagining that that probably won't always be the case man you deal with the ethical issues that your husband has to deal with in the business absolutely yeah meaning my husband's Muslim saris there's tons of issues and that in the film addresses you know entertainment business I think I mean it's beyond that probably who think business I think this you know and to the the Harvey question it goes to this greater question of this systemic problem as well and I think the industry is just as part of the system and its shortcomings as the system at large the larger system itself you know I based the movie pretty much on the Stepford Wives which sort of does for gender yeah what I would wanted to do with race and it got me thinking about a lot of things but that this there's this systemic issue that holds many of us back and many of us behind and you know I've never met Harvey Weinstein I know he's one of a kind but I know that there are many other people who you know have are similar out there and there is this it's part of the problem with with why we haven't seen stories while we haven't seen people more women get ahead in this industry is because of you know that that's happening all over the place and every day and on all sorts of levels of the industry so I you know I think he's a bad guy but it's it's it's completely systemic it's everywhere and you know and you can work in an office and there could be a Harvey Weinstein and you're up you know it's not it's not a Hollywood issue as much as it is a anytime that there is a power structure this can be an issue and that's literally everywhere I'd like each of you to name one screenplay that is particularly influenced you will stuck out to you I'm fascinated by Apocalypse Now the whole writing process would like not finding enhance life is be like that life can be like that writing can be like that not finding the end that's why I was what I said in the beginning I was very thankful that once I have the end know like okay it will not be Apocalypse Now that was very inspiring that writing process fascinated or through the film that you whose screenplay you particularly admire which one both well that makes this screenplay for me so special Anthony what about you I'm trying to separate in my mind great films from great screenplays and it's probably hard to do because great screenplays usually end up it's interesting you as a writer blend the two and don't don't separate them yeah yeah I mean from a pure you know what one I watched void the question completely and just say when I watched recently right it was a it was a very stage II kind of production but Glengarry Glen Ross by David David Mamet and I just could not my admiration for that for the writing of that I think it's one of the great American plays but it turned into for me and people say I was too theatrical but I think it's just a tour did you admire the most about the writing it it had an error Erin's writing has this too it's it's not realistic it's a notch above realistic and it creates a new poetry and in the vernacular so people aren't being poetic it's not Shakespeare but there is a poetic element to it so the rhythms then become musical Arthur Miller did this he you know with Eugene O'Neill they liberated dialogue and and gave it and Tennessee Williams and they they lifted it one notch above real and to me I love words the the the Churchill movies about the power of words to get the right words and discover that they can be enlisted to change the world and they really can and so great writing it's great screenplays achieve that they create a poetic Erin what about you one screenplay you particular in my network for the reasons we've heard it it's paddy Chayefsky filled that screenplay with great theatrical language you know every bit as meaningful as any image in the movie and for a little kid sitting in a movie theater who really loved plays you know I grew up on the East Coast and went to see plays all the time and oftentimes they replace that I was too young to understand even so you know what I loved the sound of dialogue it sounded like music to me and speeches sounded like Barrios here it's the first time I think I can remember thinking you can do that in in movies too and I I was not at all interested in what Sidney Lumet was doing I thought I want to be the guy who's who's writing that Darren I think the first thing that popped in my head is probably the social network was just I couldn't put it down I've read a lot of scripts and it's rare I do one sitting type of thing it just it it drove you through it and I think the musicality of it of the dialogue realizing it's not fully real yet it it's it is real and it is grounded but it's kind of in a different level it's something I could never write or get to I'm just very connected just trying to make stuff sound as real as I hear them but to actually create your own kind of language but it's still connected to all people I remember where I was when I read it thanks Dan Emily um I tend to go dialogue I tend to be really appreciative of dialogue and and so that's why the screenplay of moonlight kind of struck me because it is is not the most like dialogue heavy but it it was just really gorgeous for me to kind of watch that screenplay unfolds having read it after seeing the movie which is always kind of an odd thing to do but I was really impressed with the way it was laid out how about you children you know I want to go back to the Stepford Wives and Rosemary's Baby as well both both are 11 stories and for me the those those movies were both extremely inspiring because what they did within the thriller genre was this very delicate tightrope walk that sort of honored the protagonist in a way that you you really see in in in the genre these days and I guess what I mean is they the the characters in the movie the protagonists are are smart and they're investigative and they're on the trail and there's never a point that every step into weird town that those movies makes it doesn't equal there's an equal effort to justify why the character doesn't run screaming and that to me is that that that sort of dance between showing something weird and over-the-top and then showing how easily it can be placed with how weird reality is was that's you know that's the technique I brought to get out you're throwing a dinner party and you're not have three guests who would they be anytime any time period any time period and would they be writers at least one of mine would be a writer Mark Twain oh what a great choice yeah I would and here's another writer Martin Luther King who Wilson knew how to harness words like Churchill yeah and you know what I'll take a third writer and I think this might be the best American writer of all time Thomas Jefferson 33 people at the dinner ha if it can I you know I'll tell go filmmaker I'll go director to our writer I well Hertzog but the problem is when we did the direct we were staying around table it was like and why are any of us talking let's just listen that Hertzog because like her fills up a table yeah I know so I always wonder if in German Hertzog has the same effect that's what he speaks German it's Bavarian accent and that's what has that wonderful mute lift lowest quality you can roll the arts more if you want and I do Oh Terry Gilliam yeah it would be fun to be with him and uh I guess I bring back Fellini oh wow you know Emily Lanie would be doodling the whole thing okay I want a graphic doodle that's fine of all of us I think I'm gonna go John Hughes hmm I think I would like to just have a conversation why not dinner also who else I think I'd want even though it's a little cheating as I know her Holly Hunter because I just she I could listen to her stories endlessly about working in this industry for so long from so many different angles maybe maybe Stanley Kubrick interesting mix Wow Jordan yeah that's fun that's a fun table I you know I put the hitch hitch back that's good no I mean that'd be just to just pick his brain and hopefully get Riley insulted by him [Laughter] Spike Lee who I dunno I'm producing a project of his and he is also I I just soaked up everything about filmmaking that he has to offer and he's so fun and I'm boisterous and engaging and you know then let's you know I I would say that Steve Martin who I just love Steve might be gone at the conversation well I'd have to have Churchill to find out how close I got yeah I've seen your movie or not preferably not do you think he would have liked the movie well I had the experience of doing this Stephen Hawking movie and we showed the movie to Stephen I was terribly anxious about what what we what he would say and he he dialed in his response he twitches his cheek but there's a camera on his cheek and he said broadly true so I'd have I'd have mr. Churchill I'd have William Shakespeare ah and I would say the way I would say I would say William did you write all this place yes I want to know whether he wrote all those plays and then what do you think they'd be Napoleon what do you think he did write oh yeah do you think he did write them yeah invariably Beth if you know anything about theatre it's a collaborative thing now say he won the first round yeah they've done computer analysis some of the lost ones like didn't know bookends from where they've actually they confined Arthur we all know that actually if I all know since it is the dinner party you said I would invite we woman you know I would invite Melina today Marilyn Monroe definitely and I would invite or we happen these three ladies um last question I want to ask each of you for one piece of advice that you would give to a starting writer what is the line of Beckett you know the line of Beckett yes thank you cell again fail fail better the piece of writing advice that I would give them is intention and obstacle cling to that like what like look you you can't that's what drama is you can't do anything it if you don't have and somebody wants something something standing in their way of getting it in tension and obstacle once you have that that's the driveshaft of the car and you can amuse a different metaphor it's the clothesline you can hang on that structure all the cool stuff that you like doing whether it's a you know nifty dialogue imagery or whatever you want you have to have intention and offs : I would recommend that they read Aristotle's Poetics mm-hmm Antony well I think every new writer this was certainly true of me stands on the border of this undiscovered country called you know the arts and you don't know whether you've got anything to offer and you really question do I have any talent and this question of talent we don't know where creative creativity comes from in our brain but my experience is that the writer I was when I began is was only a fraction of what I feel and feel capable of doing now and that you can grow your talent and don't stand on that threshold saying I'm uncertain about my talent you can grow that part of yourself hmm I think tell only the story you can tell that's what I tell you know I teach and that's why I tell students it's if you're trying to tell stories for a larger largest audience possible the best way to get to them is by telling the story that really connects with you that means something that you think people closest to you can relate to that's the driving force and the second that thing I think I've learned is that screenwriting maybe not for Aaron but screenwriting at least for me is more like sculpture and it's a type of thing that you slowly have to carve a way out to get to that final destination mmm Emily um it's a somewhat similar to what you were saying I know a lot of writers who are just trying to write because they're like oh this would be a cool thing to write but I I think the best work comes from when you are really grappling with something that you are personally kind of like a thing you've been thinking about something ethically or morally that you've been kind of debating in your own head or kind of debating with your about your own family or about your own place in the world I that's for the best work comes from not just like oh this would be a cool thing so I think if it can speak to something that you're personally going through not literally but you know emotionally I think that's that always makes a better piece of work then this might be cool and also just get the thing done like I think that's so many people are just like oh I keep stirring and I like just get it done and then you can go back and work on it but just yes the answer get to the end and then keep working on it and don't don't get yourself bogged down and like we I know people that have like a perfect 15 pages of something and never get anywhere else okay Coppola or Lucas or Lucas I know called bluffing but you know you just you have to go through a full pass and then go through Simon and that's the sculpture idea it's like if you if you focus on the hand of David you just get a beautiful perfect hand and the rest of the body will be you know distorted but you slowly dig away at the clay until the form emerges Jordan I would say you know with with writing you know everybody we all deal with writer's block we all get in our own way and my sort of mantra was follow the fun that means if if I'm not having fun I'm doing it wrong if you get to a point where you hate what you're doing it's up to you to figure out how to have fun while doing only to look at it from a different angle to let you know so I would be writing fun it's very fun if it's going well and I follow the fun should be on a t-shirt yeah right yeah you know it's at a certain point you you know in the middle of questioning what am i doing this movie no one's gonna want to sit through this awful sequence or is it and that's when I would say you know what put that down let's go and I get to design a secret society like that's the most fun way I can spend my afternoon work on that and eventually that gives me enough space to come back and deal with what the scene is thank you well this is an excellent first draft I'm not gonna do it all again thank you so much for taking part in great clothes that were The Hollywood Reporter writers thanks very much thank you thank you ready okay quiet on set and I look down then let's do it hi I'm Margot Robbie Bryan Cranston's Robert Pattinson John Vega Sam Rockwell Willem Dafoe Emma Stone Allison Janney your mother dawn thank you for watching thank you thank you for watching thanks for watching The Hollywood Reporter Hollywood Reporter Hollywood Reporter on YouTube on YouTube

28 thoughts on “Full Writers Roundtable: Jordan Peele, Darren Aronofsky, Emily V. Gordon | Close Up With THR

  1. What's with all the bitching about the moderator? He may cut people off occasionally but he's gotta keep the interview moving.

  2. I get so let down every episode I start to watch. The moment that Stephen Galloway introduces the table I’m like I can’t stand this guy.. I like the other girl that does the interviews

  3. Cracks me up when people complain about the moderator/Stephen. It would be 12 hours long if he didn't cut people off /steer the conversation (And no they can't edit it down because I'm guessing they're limited in time for the actual shoot). He's knowledgable about who is interviewing, the history of film, the business, and he gets good answers out of people. I think it's like one of those things, where online people have this disconnect with reality. I get it, you want to hear your favourite writer talk for ages, but this isn't that platform. I can see the frustration, but it's a bit like when people complain that every little scene from a book doesn't make it to the movie. There's a bigger picture.

  4. These shallow, virtue signalling, SJW creatures want to write pieces that draw conversations and make statements. Who gives a fuck. ? Whatever happened to a good story for entertainment sakes. It's sickening what has happened lately to mainstream film. And it shows. People are rejecting this infantile blubbering gibberish from a bunch of spoiled Me Too's.

  5. It's incredibly upsetting when an esteemed writer is on the verge of revealing a golden kernel of advice and wisdom and this reporter cuts them off.

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