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Posted on March 25, 2010 - by writerman
Some refreshingly direct wisdom on drama, the job of the writer and how not to be a dickhead, courtesy of Hollywood’s favorite literary pugilist, David Mamet.1
Highlights cut & pasted below, but if I were you I’d click through and read the whole thing at Movieline. For the record, I have no idea why it’s in ALL CAPS.
“THE JOB OF THE DRAMATIST IS TO MAKE THE AUDIENCE WONDER WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. NOT TO EXPLAIN TO THEM WHAT JUST HAPPENED, OR TO*SUGGEST* TO THEM WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.
ANY DICKHEAD CAN WRITE, “BUT, JIM, IF WE DON’T ASSASSINATE THE PRIME MINISTER IN THE NEXT SCENE, ALL EUROPE WILL BE ENGULFED IN FLAME”
THINK LIKE A FILMMAKER RATHER THAN A FUNCTIONARY, BECAUSE, IN TRUTH, YOU ARE MAKING THE FILM. WHAT YOU WRITE, THEY WILL SHOOT.
HERE ARE THE DANGER SIGNALS. ANY TIME TWO CHARACTERS ARE TALKING ABOUT A THIRD, THE SCENE IS A CROCK OF SHIT.
ANY TIME ANY CHARACTER IS SAYING TO ANOTHER “AS YOU KNOW”, THAT IS, TELLING ANOTHER CHARACTER WHAT YOU, THE WRITER, NEED THE AUDIENCE TO KNOW, THE SCENE IS A CROCK OF SHIT.
DO NOT WRITE A CROCK OF SHIT. WRITE A RIPPING THREE, FOUR, SEVEN MINUTE SCENE WHICH MOVES THE STORY ALONG, AND YOU CAN, VERY SOON, BUY A HOUSE IN BEL AIR AND HIRE SOMEONE TO LIVE THERE FOR YOU.”
LOVE, DAVE MAMET
SANTA MONICA 19 OCTO 05
- Rumor has it this is from a memo Mamet wrote to the staff of The Unit. Of course, it’s probably only a matter of days before we find out the whole thing is a hoax, and the actual author is Kurt Vonnegut or Mamet’s dog walker or some guy who writes for The Onion. But does any of that really matter on the Internet? It’s still a fun read and pretty good advice. [↩]
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