03 March, 2008

Joel and Ethan Coen interview

Creative Screenwriting (mp3)

In the above too brief podcast, the Coens give some insight into their working process.

"I just wanted the characters to behave in as honest a way as possible."

That makes sense but the following surprised me

  • They don't outline
  • They don't carry out character specific passes to make sure they are distinct from each other
  • They don't research and write out of complete ignorance

Someone said the Coens had a tendency for deus ex machina endings and them not outlining would explain that but I don't know if that's true and I have to re-watch the films with that comment in mind. What it does mean is that it takes them ages to write a script because they have to stop to think of what happens next.

Maybe I do carry out too many passes but you'd have to take the highlighter pen away from my cold dead hand before I give up character specific passes.

I've always thought anyone who didn't research was just lazy but now I think over-research might be a bigger a problem as it doesn't seem like procrastination. Each to their own but for me a balance between the two makes more sense. A quick check on your facts or trying to find interesting settings which aren't over-used isn't going to do any harm.


Anonymous said...

The way they do things surprised me too but each to his own. I guess it just goes to show that there's more than one way to skin a screenplay.

It might not hurt to give their method a try, after all, it works for them, so maybe it'll work for others. Experiment and see, perhaps? Nothing to lose.

Cheers, Hubris22

Robin Kelly said...

Yes, nothing wrong with experimenting as we can always go back to how we usually do things if it doesn't work for us.