Primary Difference Between Amateur And Professional Writers – Gordy Hoffman

Film Courage: How much time today in 2018
do you dedicate to writing? Gordy Hoffman, Screenwriter/Founder of Blue
Cat Screenplay Competition: I don’t write in a disciplined way in a
timing thing a certain hour of the day, every single day, Monday through Friday or anything
like that. I’m one of those guys who writes in bunches
and writes at certain times of the day. I’m one of those guys who writes in bunches
or writes in certain times. There are certain days that I don’t write. I wrote five pages this morning. I did not do that for the benefit of the Film
Courage interview. I was just like yesterday I need to, I’m
rewriting this thing and I’ve been going around and around with it and I’ve started
really different approach on this script. There are two projects that I’m working
on right now both of them to direct and both of them have gone through a lot of different
development and there are people involved, producers and stuff. And I want to make one of them next year so
I really need to…I found myself bored…getting really frustrated with this one thing and
I’m at this point where I don’t know if I can figure this thing out and I was like
“You’ve got to hang in there.” And I did and then I came in for a way to
open it again. So I wrote a page on Friday. I had this idea for the opening so I wrote
a page. And then today I wrote four more pages so
I’m on page 5 and then I sent it over to my staff (I send my pages in) and they kind
of take a look at them and give me quick feedback to make sure I’m going in the right direction
or something like that. And then this afternoon I’m going to go
to the other project where I’m outlining it because it’s a heist and so I have to
do a lot of architecture stuff…It’s like “Aarghh” Whereas this other thing is very
much like a LOVE LIZA where there’s a protagonist and they’re on a mission kind of thing and
it’s that kind of a piece. So it’s very much an extension of LOVE LIZA
but in that structurally, that character arc kind of thing but I’ going to be directing
it. Film Courage: You mentioned getting bored
and so when you get that signal that nothing is happening, what’s your process? Gordy: You cannot abandon it. Every script…if you get bored with it, that
means you’re actually getting somewhere with the movie. People are amateurs primarily because they
can’t get through the professional period of hating what they’re writing, bored, frustrated,
looking at every page going “I hate all these scenes.” I’m like “Ugh!” There’s no magic here, I’m not enjoying
myself, it’s not gratifying. So you have to suck it up and get through
that period, you can’t go…”Oh, I’m bored.” You are just going to go right back to where
that point is again. There is a famous quote from Kurosawa about
this that I look at this almost every single day (the quote) you should put it up with
this video because people will probably ask about what it is but he talks about every
script falling into despair and he uses the word despair and despair is a strong word
but it’s exactly what that is. It’s like I can’t figure this out, I don’t
know how to figure this out, and I really want to start with this because this other
thing, I know what to do with it, I’m going to start it, not knowing or not remembering
that everything you write, you come to that place of despair. The artist, the writer, the director, the
actor (whatever) has to walk through that period of desert period of the creative process
or they are not going to…or something will click. And that’s what happened is I hung in there
with this one thing where I was like “Oh my God,” and then I came up with an image
and then I got some input from somebody (just life experience) and I had some incident and
I was like “What if I move it and I started over there? And I do that.” And then all the sudden I had an idea and
I was like “This is how it is.” And I cracked my problem and I was like “Okay,
I’m back in the saddle. I’ve got this thing going. Now I can incorporate the other things I’ve
been working on that I like but I got through that period of discouragement. Film Courage: So when you know you’re in
that boredom, that you have a ritual for? Gordy: It’s not a ritual. A ritual is staying patient. People don’t have any patience. Corporate structures I think don’t allow
for patience when they’re making studio pictures and stuff. When they announce a release date and the
script is not done, well that’s counter intuitive actually because it’s like “I’m
going to show you this but I haven’t written it yet.” That creates dysfunction. So that’s why I think a lot of bets are
off and that’s why you have projects not really work out. You go to a movie, you go to the theater and
you’re like “What just happened in there?” And it’s very difficult because it really
eliminates the principle of patience because you’re not going to be like Well, let’s
pump the breaks. This thing needs like 6 more months, I’ve
got to figure this out. Can we move this release date back for a year
and a half? And tell the Disney stockholders that the
STAR WARS movie is not going to come out for 4 years because we want to make sure the script
is good. That’s not going to work and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that you can’t…I mean
the guys who wrote CASABLANCA, you can write under duress and it can be successful. Having deadlines and structure is fine. But overall when you are stuck, having patience
and being like “Do not give up. Do not relent. Hang in there.” And don’t change gears and I did and it
was a couple of weeks and it was a little bit of time and I was kind of like “No,
no, no…Just keep hanging in there.” And I was just like “What can you do here? You have to hang in there.” There is noting platable about working on
this script at all. You want to start working on something else. There are so many ideas that are so much sexier
or attractive that you want to jump into but it’s like you can’t let go of this. You have to hang in there. So whatever the process is doesn’t matter,
it’s just exhibiting patience and realizing if you hang in there the path is going to
open up according to Kurosawa and then the path will open up and you’ll go “Ahh!” And a lightbulb will go off and that’s what’s
happened with everything really. Film Courage: APOCALYPSE NOW you don’t want
it to become your HEART OF DARKNESS. Did you see the documentary? It’s excellent. Gordy: Yes I did but I think if anything what
Coppola was doing with APOCALYPSE NOW was having patience and hanging in there because
a lot of places you want to give up but you have to fight, a lot of places where you have
to fight through and maintaining that you have to tell the truth, I want to be original,
I want to be compelling, I want to make imaginative choices because to get through the darkness
you’re bored or your stuck because you’re not giving up and you’re not compromising. You’re not saying “Well, let’s just
shoot it anyways. It’s good enough. It’s already done. Let’s just do it. It’s good enough. It doesn’t have to be perfect.” I had a filmmaker say to me once “Gordy,
it doesn’t have to be perfect.” And it’s like “You’re right. It’s never going to be perfect.” But what it’s implying is a little bit of
disregard of “Who cares?” If you know something is kind of crap, or
it’s not believable or it’s not logical or it’s not vulnerable or it isn’t clear
or whatever. If you’re aware of problems but you’re
like “Well, who cares? Then you’re not going to make someone’s
favorite movie that way.”

23 thoughts on “Primary Difference Between Amateur And Professional Writers – Gordy Hoffman

  1. I love how the moment you are going through something film courage seems to find the exact video to post. "What more do you want from me." lol. Thanks. I recently revisited an old an script that let's say I had this crazy idea I were going to shoot. Purchase the equipment and all… but that's another story. The script somehow began to breathe again and I started to work. The before script seemed to simple. You know, 'trying to follow a Hollywood formula just to fit in' . For the past few week Ive deleted scenes, characters , shorten, copy and paste, entered new scenes etc… It begin to sound good. I work up with my characters voices in my head, in my morning walks to 'day job' I could see my scene settings but the past weekend(11/9-11/11/2018) things have come to a stand still. I doubted, beat myself up; I didn't know what to do. Until now!

  2. Funny this should be up today. I've been tangling with a concept for the last year and a half. Started as a feature film screenplay. I felt good about it, then right around 80% of it complete, I began to feel like the ending was being rushed. Then it hit me… it needs to be a series, not a film. An 8-10 part episodic show, either for Netflix or Hulu. So I started writing the first episode a few weeks ago and I've been moving at a snails pace. Even though I know how it ends, all the key plot points and great points of dialogue. But I find myself bored and feeling like I'm pulling teeth just getting half a page written.

  3. ‘It’s like Love Liza in that “there’s a protagonist and they’re on a mission” kinda thing’.

    Unintentionally hilarious.

  4. That stage is horrible, I never felt like it was universal. But while facing the wind may be the best solution to find the right path (especially on a deadline). I still think that some time off, to let your subconscious take over can really improve the project. Your mind fills the blank spots in the shadows as you come with a fresh pair of eyes. But that's only if you have patience and the time.

  5. Thanks a lot Film Courage. I was going through a block stage for a while now and this video answered many questions i had. Than you so much.

  6. The quote he never got around to finishing is "At some point in the writing of every script I feel like giving the whole thing up. From my many experiences of writing screenplays, however, I have learned something: If I hold fast in the face of this blankness and despair, adopting the tactic of Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen sect, who glared at the wall that stood in his way until his legs became useless, a path will open up."

  7. This is a very encouraging video!

    I've recently had to struggle a lot to make progress with my script. Even though I have a good outline, and knows what Character A wants to convey to Character B in most of the scenes, it still takes a lot of effort in certain parts of the script to write a conversation I feel is authentic to all characters involved.

    I am currently in a part of the script where I'm introducing a spiritual world, both in a literal and a figurative way. And doing that authentically is a very difficult thing. I might have to spend some time writing the next ten pages.

    I guess I'm satisfied if I can get them done by Christmas. 🙂

  8. I like your series.

    This guy talked in circles. I think one time around got the point across: Have patience & hang in there.

  9. Hi Karen…Thanks a lot for all that exact questions you asked all experts… Many of those answers helped me to jump over all the hurdles in between me and completing my 1st draft… Yesterday I finished the 1st draft of my first screenplay!!!! Thankkkkkk uuuuu…So much from the bottom of my heart…

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