The Writers Guild has an extremely good in-house magazine, Written By, which is overseen by editor-in-chief Richard Stayton. Some issues admittedly grab my interest more than others, which is fair enough, but they're all well-done. This past month, though, was a particular gem. It largely dealt with the Guild's 101 funniest screenplays, and I read every article.
One especially stood out, the cover story on Woody Allen (which was done by Stayton himself). It caught my attention more because it's unlike any other interview I've read with Allen -- and that happened by accident, for a reason that Stayton describes in his editor's notes at the beginning of the issue.
In his front piece, he talks about the efforts to simply get the interview, and how much research he did preparing for it, re-watching all of Woody Allen's seven movies that were voted into the top 101, wanting to be as well-versed as possible when he finally got to sit down with Allen. But then, when arriving, finding out at the very beginning how much Woody Allen didn't care about awards and such lists. Stayton's tale of angst is very funny, as Allen goes on and on about his dislike of such things, and Stayton sits there in agonizing silence, realizing that all of his questions are useless, and he has nothing to ask. Out of almost sheer desperation, he pulls out the air a single question that a friend had told him to ask about craft. And from there, it turned into an absolutely wonderful, fascinating interview, unlike any I've ever come across with Woody Allen -- all about the process of writing.
You can read it here.
By the way, there's one oddity in the interview. At one point in the conversation, Woody Allen makes a comment about not revisiting his movies when they’re done, not watching them, not wanting to see a sequel, not wanting to do musical versions, nothing, all of which he repeated. Now, mind you, I have no reason not to believe him about that. It seems fairly consistent with his career Except – not only is there a musical adaptation of “Bullets Over Broadway”, which played on Broadway only last year and the touring company is currently playing in Los Angeles…but HE wrote the stage adaptation himself! I still believe what he said – people are entitled to make exceptions – but it was just so strange to read it and see him SO insistent, including specifically singling out not doing musical adaptations, and he didn’t even reference something so blatant, to explain why he made an exception that one time.
That oddity aside, it's a very good, extremely interesting interview and discussion of writing. Again, check it out here.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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