Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Writing and acting and directing (Why Sean Penn is smart)

I'm watching the Sean Penn episode on the biography channel and he just said this amazing thing that really rang true for me, and yet again articulated why I think being a screenwriter might suck. Or at least be frustrating.

He was talking about his clashes with directors. And he said something like this: It's been a source of great frustration working with directors as an actor. A director who doesn't write his own material is confusing to me, because as an actor you question whether he should be the one to tell you how this story should be told. Why would his ideas be better than mine?

Okay, I'm going from memory of what Penn said, but it articulates really well the conflicting creative forces at work on a movie... And the screenwriter is typically the one who has the most knowledge of the story, but the one whose opinion is most ignored when it comes to actually making the movie. That's why I'm not sure I"d like to be a screenwriter (as if I could just snap my fingers and be one... ha!) Or why I'm pursuing writing novels vs screenplays when I'm so clearly a movie buff...

Oh, and some funny trivia about Sean Penn. He got fined (as did the hotel) for smoking during a press conference at last year's TIFF. I think he's back again this year. Will be interesting to see if he can keep from smoking this year.

4 comments:

Marilyn Brant said...

It's been so interesting to me to watch "On the Lot" this summer for much the same reason. My actual film background is limited (as far as positioning the camera, shooting scenes, etc.), so I've been fascinated by the directors with such strong visual skills and how they've chosen to set up and cut their shots.

However, the directors who are also accomplished screenwriters make, for me, the best short films on the show. Not only are their movies visual intriguing, but the dialogue is well constructed, there are character and plot arcs, the structure of the story is as well thought out as the ordering of the images... (Like Adam's "Army Guy" clip from this week. :)

Maureen McGowan said...

I'm starting to think that show would've been better if they'd given the director's scripts that they could shoot and change how they wanted... Then the show could've shown more about how actual film making works...

I haven't seen this week, yet. I keep forgetting to watch it on Fox, but the Canadain chanel is showing it the following Sunday now and my digital recorder knows about that one.

Sandra Ferguson said...

Sean Penn's words rang true for me.

How many movies have you seen (after you've read the book) and been greatly disappointed? Me -- a lot. The one true exception, might be The Godfather, but they did take three movies to cover the one book.

I can't imagine from a writer's standpoint, how it would feel to see your work, your POV, your characters changed into something else.

As an actor, I would want to talk to the person who wrote the work to begin with. If that's an author or the screenwriter -- if I was looking for character motivation, emotion, reaction, then I'd want it coming straight from the person who dreamed that character up in the first place.

Samara Leigh said...

I adore Sean Penn. I didn't care much for him back in his bad boy, Madonna days, but now I just love him. I think he's an amazing actor and just a really smart person.

What he said makes complete sense.

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