The featured screenwriters were William Nicholson (Shadowlands, Gladiator), Moira Buffini (Tamara Drewe, Jane Eyre), John Logan (The Aviator, Rango), Guillermo Arriaga (Amores Perros, Babel), Frank Cottrell Boyce (Hilary & Jackie, 24 Hour Party People), Paul Laverty (My Name Is Joe, The Wind That Shakes The Barley), and Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).
Interestingly, both Nicholson and Logan were involved with Gladiator and both speak about that experience.
Each lecture is followed up by a Q&A with the audience. For a transcript of the lectures and discussions, click on the link after the video.
Current awards season scripts available online
Last year's Screenwriters on Screenwriting lectures (David Hare, Christopher Hampton, Simon Beaufoy, Peter Morgan, Aline Brosh McKenna and Ronald Harwood)
"If you haven’t got discipline, forget it. This is not a game that you do like an essay at university, where you stay up all night on black coffee at the last minute. Maybe some people do, I don’t believe it. You do it every day. You do it systematically. You don’t let yourself stop. You make yourself write even when you don’t want to write. You make yourself write even when people have criticized you and you feel like hell. You just keep going."
William Nicholson Transcript
"It seems obvious to me now that I wasn’t cut out to be an actor. I was terribly bad at auditions. I remember going up for quite a big part in a TV series – a regular, the wife of the young detective – and the director asked me what I thought of the character. ‘Well, she’s a bit insipid actually.’ I honestly said that. I sat there and I told him the character was rubbish. Why did I do that? Because it was true. Needless to say I didn’t get the job, but this has been something I’ve always tried to address in my own writing – no wife parts, unless she’s the kind of wife who’d put a lobster in your bath."
Moira Buffini Transcript
"What I didn’t know was how to write a screenplay, and Oliver Stone taught me how to do it. We did 26 drafts of Any Given Sunday, one after another, so I learned everything about the form from him. He was patient. I’d go to his house, he’d say, ‘Pick up the Oscar, hold it, it’ll feel good, you’ll enjoy it.’ And then we’d work."
John Logan Transcript
"Every time I write a scene or a story and it’s not working I think, ‘How would Shakespeare solve this?’ It happened to me in Amores Perros. Amores Perros was a story that was not working, and I asked how it could work and thought of Shakespeare. In Shakespeare the way of doing things is: the closer the characters are, the greater the conflict. Think of Hamlet. Who killed Hamlet’s father? Who is marrying Hamlet’s mother? Macbeth. He wants the throne. In order to get the throne he has to kill the King. But the King is his best friend, and the one who is pushing him to kill his best friend is his wife. So when you put things so close, conflict becomes much larger, bigger."
Guillermo Arriaga Transcript
Frank Cottrell Boyce
"When I read those screenwriting books, that whole thing about three acts and structure, and that whole kind of architectural vocabulary… What about putting something much more subtle and dynamic in its place, and talking about suspense as a way of structuring your story? Suspense is part of the rhythm of how we live, suspense is the gap between the question and the answer, between the birth and the death, between the gestation and the birth, between the, ‘Will you?’ and, ‘Yes I will.’ Between the, ‘I’ll kill you,’ and, ‘You’re dead.’"
Frank Cottrell Boyce Transcript
"I’ll never forget, the day I actually sat down to start My Name Is Joe. I remember the blank sheet and the absolute exhilaration because I thought this man was going to bring us to troublesome places. What I loved about the character Joe, in my head before I started, was one of the steps – one of the 12 steps, I think it’s the fourth one – he’s got to make a fearless moral inventory of himself. And there’s great juice with that. So you don’t know exactly where it might go, but you just feel it’s going to take you on a journey and I love that kind of sense of excitement, of not exactly knowing where you’re going to go."
Paul Laverty Transcript
"So what is a screenplay, or what might it be? Since we’re talking specifically about screenplays tonight. A screenplay is an exploration. It’s about the thing you don’t know. It’s a step into the abyss. It necessarily starts somewhere, anywhere; there is a starting point but the rest is undetermined. It is a secret, even from you. There’s no template for a screenplay, or there shouldn’t be. There are at least as many screenplay possibilities as there are people who write them. We’ve been conned into thinking there is a pre-established form. Like any big business, the film business believes in mass production. It’s cheaper and more efficient as a business model."
Charlie Kaufman Transcript
Plus, one more as a bonus.
Miranda Hart: Comedy Writing Masterclass