Award Winning Screenwriter Michael Arndt About His Career and Making It Starting With Nothing But Faith
Michael Arndt’s one hour talk at Cody’s Book is probably one of the best Screenwriting talk I’ve listened to so far.
Arndt was a script reader in New York for many years when he decided to quit and start writing full time as an unknown screenwriter. He wrote six scripts before tackling Little Miss Sunshine, that he deliberately chose to write as an indie-low-budget-low-stakes movie (against all Hollywood advise). After a year working on it, he decided to send it to a friend who had an agent and almost immediately received the attention it deserved. By the time the script started rolling, Arndt had wrote 4 more scripts.
Because Arndt is one of those who truly made it thanks to their script’s strength and who took the risk of spending a lifetime in a basement writing stories that no-one outside their inner circle would ever read and still decided to give it a go; and because when he gave this talk he was still so connected to that phase of his life, there is weight in what he shares.
Arndt is very clear and upfront with everything in this talk, whether it is about his relationship with the Studio, his vision of the Hollywood system or his craft. Arndt knows his characters, his intentions and his story by heart. He can explain all his choices and justify every changes that happened during production in the story. His dedication to reaching the best quality possible before sending his script ‘out there’ transpires through this talk.
I have read Little Miss Sunshine‘s shooting screenplay few days ago and I was impressed by how strong and entertaining the read was. (Note: the shooting screenplay doesn’t depart much from the sold draft.) I was even more impressed when I realized that Arndt didn’t have any produced screenplays before and very pleased to discover the one hour talk below.
The video below is a Q&A based talk recorded in February 2007 (before Arndt received his Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay) and, miraculously, every single question is relevant and moves the conversation forward.
This dreamy Q&A covers pretty much everything you might want to know about Arndt to understand where he is coming from until 2007.
Today Arndt also has -among others- Toy Story 3 and Catching Fire under his belt and has been commissioned to write Star Wars VII, all subjects and genres that seem very far from Little Miss Sunshine, which maybe proves that diversity as a Screenwriter is possible, if your skills are strong enough.
Enjoy the video below, courtesy of fora.tv and see below for the chapters breakdown:
- Chapter 01.Introduction
- Chapter 02.Setup to Clip fromthe Movie
- Chapter 03.Clip from the Movie
- Chapter 04.Q1 – Disparate Group of Characters
- Chapter 05.Q2 – Conflict with Focus Films
- Chapter 06.Q3 – The Name Olive Hoover
- Chapter 07.Q4 – Writing Process
- Chapter 08.Q5 – The State Trooper Scene
- Chapter 09.Q6 – The Hollywood System
- Chapter 10.Q7 – Most Difficult Character Arch
- Chapter 11.Q8 – Casting the Movie
- Chapter 12.Q9 – Finding an Agent
- Chapter 13.Q10 – The Script’sMerits
- Chapter 14.Q11 – Writing for the Pleasure of It
- Chapter 15.Q12 – Unproduced Scripts
- Chapter 16.Q13 – First Draft in Three Days
- Chapter 17.Q14 – Agenda Beneath the Comedy
- Chapter 18.Q15 – Why Albuquerque?
- Chapter 19.Q16 – Election and Silence of the Lambs
- Chapter 20.Q17 – Toy Story 3
- Chapter 21.Q18 – Getting Hired at Pixar
- Chapter 22.Q19 – Only Write Comedies?
- Chapter 23.Q20 – How Many Drafts?
- Chapter 24.Q21 – Do Characters Linger?
- Chapter 25.Q22 – The VW Bus
- Chapter 26.Q23 – Living in New York
- Chapter 27.Fun Versus Winning