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Thursday, November 12, 2009

One of my heroes - James Schamus

It was great to hear one of my heroes give a talk at the recent Speechwriters Festival - James Schamus.

Why is a hero to me?

Because he has that 'generalist' approach to life - of wanting to explore everything he can do. He is a writer, famous for working with Ang Lee (also pictured above) but much more than that. He also (according to wikipedia) is a published film historian, currently holds a faculty position at Columbia University and is the head of the film company Focus Features. Not bad. Any one of those things would normally be enough to hold someone in high regard.

Here are some choice slices from his talk that resonated with me...
  • Ignore all the rules. Have 27 acts if you want to.
  • The dumber the picture the more you need structure to give it some form of shape. Smart scripts have their own structure.
  • You will hear people say; 'show, not tell' a lot. That's nonsense. A writer's craft is in the telling.
  • Rules come from studying good work. But good work doesn't necessarily come out of studying rules.
  • I know it's a Focus Features kind of script when I think most people won't like it.

More gems next time round.

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