The featured screenwriters were Sir David Hare (The Hours, The Reader), Christopher Hampton CBE (Dangerous Liaisons, Atonement), Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty, Slumdog Millionaire), Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon), Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada, Morning Glory), and Sir Ronald Harwood CBE (The Pianist, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly).
Quite an impressive lineup.
Each lecture was followed up by a Q&A with the audience. For a transcript of the lectures and discussions, click on the link after the video.
Screenwriters on Screenwriting 2010
"When I recently delivered the film I’m hoping to make next year, the person who paid for it said to me ‘Oh my goodness me, this is dialogue to die for.’ I didn’t like to say to her I usually write the dialogue at about 4.30 in the afternoon and it usually takes me about 20 minutes. Actually, writing the dialogue is kind of the easiest thing that a screenwriter does because if you’ve thought it all out right then the actual job of writing the words is just incredibly easy, because most of what you’re doing is imagining."
David Hare Transcript
"The end of the film… I wanted to say that although this was a key ‘in’ to respecting, as it were, some spirit in the novel that we wanted to preserve, I wanted also to say that I think it is a mistake to be slavish in your homage to the piece of work you’re working from. There’s usually a way of realizing in cinematic terms what’s expressed in a slightly different way."
Christopher Hampton Transcript
"I always need authenticity in drama. For Slumdog Millionaire I went to the Juhu slum and wandered around, as this sweating white man getting lost in these tiny, narrow streets in Mumbai. And, being an alien from another planet, people would come up to you and say, ‘Are you lost? What are you doing? Mr Bean, what are you doing?’ For some reason I reminded them of Mr Bean which is not brilliant."
Simon Beaufoy Transcript
"Best, most important, thing to do is to read it and read it. If you can borrow friends… if there are no friends, read it out loud in a room on your own, [otherwise] it’s like cutting clothes and not putting them on; it’s ridiculous, you have to hear it read. So much stuff comes out. Usually you’ve critically underwritten in places and overwritten in others, and to hear what is effortlessly being communicated without needing words, and what needs extra help... You get a dimension."
Peter Morgan Transcript
Aline Brosh McKenna
"That scene had been written a little differently, he was really much more her friend and her confidante and somebody who was giving her a pep talk. One of the people I gave it to said ‘This scene is completely unrealistic.’ I asked why and he said ‘It doesn’t feel right because no-one in that world is nice to each other.’ I said that not everyone was nice to each other all the time, and he said ‘No, they’re never nice to each other. There’s no reason to be, and they don’t have time.’ That was really a great insight, that allowed me to re-crack that whole character to be the mean mentor; that was a huge help."
Aline Brosh McKenna Transcript
"I have to keep telling myself, reminding myself, that the Golden Rule of screenwriting is there is no Golden Rule. I wish there were. Each time I start on a screenplay it’s as if I’ve never written one before. I hold in my mind that form is of secondary importance to content. What a film is about stands above all else."
Ronald Harwood Transcript