Oscar-Contending Writers Talk About The Journey from Script to Screen

Ever meet a writer without an opinion? Or a great story to tell? Didn’t think so. These very fine writers have very definite opinions…and their stories aren’t too shabby either:

Roma and Green Book Moments

by Craig Tomashoff

As it turns out, not all screenplays are created equally. Some are written in a matter of weeks, others over the course of years. Some are meticulously researched in advance, others are written spontaneously. Some are completely the product of deep personal introspection, others are offered up for review at cocktail parties. We spoke to the writers whose scripts were nominated for 2019 Academy Awards to learn what different approaches they took that set their current films apart from their previous work.

‘Green Book’ by Peter Farrelly

Usually when I’m writing, I’ll sit in a room with whomever I’m working with and bat it all out. This time, though, Nick Vallelonga and Brian Currie and I got together for two or three weeks to put down how the story should go and what point of view to tell it from. But then I went off to work on a TV show and they went to do a first draft. When they came back a month later, I thought that was too fast, so I took it for about six weeks to write on my own. Then we got back together for a final two or three weeks to argue over whether we needed to add this or that. I also remember vividly another unusual thing: There was one Saturday around 10 p.m., when I’d finished a nice pass on the script. My wife had six or eight friends over, and they were having cocktails and smoking cigarettes. I said, ‘I think I have a draft,’ and they said, ‘Can we look at it?’ They read until about midnight. Then we stayed up till 4 in the morning, with them giving me notes. I still remember people saying, ‘You’re going to get an Oscar nomination for this.’

‘The Favorite’ by Tony McNamara

What was different about the script was it was a long development over a long distance. I was in Sydney, and [director] Yorgos [Lanthimos] was in London, so we did notes on Skype. Every now and again, we’d meet in London or Rome and spend time physically together. We had Deborah Davis’ script that we took some history from, and we decided early on we wanted to be as free as we could with it. I find some history films get bogged down in detail, and when Yorgos and I first spoke about it, we both wanted it to be a different kind of period film — not polite, more freewheeling and contemporary and, most importantly, funny. The hardest part was making the third act work. Also bringing three protagonists’ stories together into one or two tight, compelling and satisfying moments took a while to get right….


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