Learning from the Best – Lawrence Kasdan

Lawrence Kasdan on how he writes those beautiful scripts. (Don’t worry if you aren’t sure who he is. The second paragraph below will fill you in.)

How They Write a Script: Lawrence Kasdan
by Scott Meyers

“I wrote screenplays as a way to get into production. I wrote six or seven before I sold one; that was The Bodyguard. I thought if I started selling these screenplays, I’d get a chance to direct. I thought that was the way in.”

Writer-director Lawrence “Larry” Kasdan is a prolific talent who has written movies in almost every genre including the thriller Body Heat (1981), possibly greatest action adventure movie of all time Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), arguably the best of the Star Wars movies The Empire Strikes Back (1983), the ensemble drama The Big Chill (1983), the western Silverado (1985), the adaptation of a best-selling drama The Accidental Tourist (1988), and the romantic thriller The Bodyguard (1992) among many other titles. Kasdan also makes for a great interview, a thoughtful observer of the craft of filmmaking. These excerpts come from “Backstory 4”, another in the fantastic “Backstory” series by Patrick McGilligan.

ON HOW HE GOT INTO SCREENWRITING

“I was interested in writing, and when I got to Ann Arbor [University of Michigan] I started writing theater and fiction and was able to see my plays get produced. I didn’t get into the film program for a while. I was never formally part of it — I was an English literature major — but I eventually started taking film courses. Very quickly I began writing feature-length screenplays.

I wrote screenplays as a way to get into production. I wrote six or seven before I sold one; that was The Bodyguard. I thought if I started selling these screenplays, I’d get a chance to direct. I thought that was the way in.”

ON HOW HE GOT INVOLVED IN RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK

“Steven [Spielberg] had purchased my script Continental Divide, which was very different from the film which resulted. The script had a kind of Hawksian speed, momentum, hopefully with about it. I don’t think the film turned out that way, which was one of those painful experiences I had early on. But Steven’s enthusiasm for it was what got me involved with him and George. I think that what they were looking for was someone who could write Raiders in the same way that [Howard] Hawks would have someone write a movie for him — a strong woman character, a certain kind of hero. So that’s what got me the job….

Read it all at blacklist.com

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