Friday, October 27, 2006

How to Write a Movie

I'm reading The Sound of No Hands Clapping: A Memoir by Toby Young. The book, among other things, details Young's attempts to become a successful screenwriter. I thought I'd share this paragraph with you:
Take the script for Alien 3. In 1986, cyberpunk author William Gibson (Neuromancer) was hired to write "two drafts and a polish," only to be interrupted by the 1987 writers' strike, and, when that was over, Eric Red (Near Dark) was brought in to do a "five-week job." At this stage, Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2) was attached to direct, but when he read the script he handed in his notice. The next writer to come on board was David Twohy (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and while everyone liked his version he'd neglected to write a part for Sigourney Weaver, the star of the franchise. So in 1991 the producers hired Vincent Ward (The Navigator) and put him to work with Jon Fasano (Another 48 Hours). Fasano was replaced by Greg Pruss, but after "five arduous drafts" Ward and Pruss quarreled and Larry Ferguson (The Hunt for Red October) was called in to do a "four-week emergency rewrite." However, when Sigourney Weaver read this version she threatened to pull out, so producers Walter Hill and David Giler knocked out a draft of their own. The version that eventually reached the screen in 1992 was a combination of this and another script written by David Fincher, the film's 27-year-old first-time director. Of Gibson's original screenplay, only one detail survived. "In my first draft, this woman has a bar code on the back of her hand," he told me during a newspaper interview. "In the shooting script, one of the guys has a shaved head and a bar code on the back of his head. I'll always privately think that was my piece of Alien 3."

1 comment:

Jean Pilotte said...

Another Toby Young book, "How to make enemies and alienate friends" details his stint as an entertainment writer for Vanity Fair. Some of the stories in that book are mind boggling. Highly recommended read. And I will definitely get the one you are presently reading, Mark.