Sunday, November 10, 2013

Five Things I Learned from This Year's THR Writers Roundtable

Every year, The Hollywood Reporter does a series of roundtables with actors, directors, and writers, most of whom are in contention for Academy Awards recognition. I always look forward to these, especially the writers' session. This year they sat down with John Ridley (12 Years a Slave), George Clooney and Grant Heslov (The Monuments Men), Jonas Cuaron (Gravity), Nicole Holofcener (Enough Said), Danny Strong (Lee Daniels' The Butler), and Julie Delpy (Before Midnight). Here are five things I learned from the discussion:

  • There was a lot of talk about how much historical accuracy should count when making a film set in the past, and the general consensus was that you just need to get the general details right, since the film is not a documentary. Ridley particularly noted that when historical films deal with tough subject matter - such as his film, with slavery - people will use minor historical inaccuracies to discredit the entire film. It's sad, but I have seen that starting to happen with 12 Years a Slave.

Four more things after the jump:

  • We can thank the financial collapse of 2008 for Gravity being made. As antithetical as that sounds, apparently Cuaron and his father, director Alfonso Cuaron, were working together on a smaller independent feature at the time, and soon lost financing for the film. Instead, they began working on a film about two people in space, which eventually evolved into the big-budget Gravity.

  • There wasn't much detail given, but judging by Delpy's question, it may not be okay in France to make films/television about subjects that are still alive. I'm not sure about this, though. Are there any readers who can clarify this? But on the subject, it is interesting to hear Strong - aka Jonathan from Buffy - talk about working on Game Change and getting harassed by Sarah Palin's aides, particularly the latter's claim of "we haven't seen it, but it's all lies."

  • It doesn't really surprise me, but I am curious to find out which major studio films Holofcener has done re-writes on. I'd also be interested in seeing some of these "Jim Carrey-type broad comedies" Strong wrote that were never produced.

  • Lastly, I had no idea that Clooney and Heslov have been working together for over 30 years. Nor did I realize that Good Night, and Good Luck had begun life out of Clooney's frustration with reactions to his anti-Iraq War statements and that it was originally going to be a live special on CBS. I guess it just took Clooney's celebrity status for them to really get their projects off the ground.
You can watch the full roundtable below (don't believe that "uncensored" part, though; there are several instances of bleeping):

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