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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

[QUOTE] Writing Zodiac: You don't have to kill all the rattlesnakes

Zodiac scribe James Vanderbilt talks “dark” and “messiness” to Denis Faye at WGAW. “Fincher had this saying, like a therapist would say. “You don’t have to kill all the rattlesnakes to know where they all are.” And the idea behind it is that, for the guys in the movie, it’s more about Z-04483.tifthem coming to the conclusions they came to in order to move on with their lives. We’ve all seen the movie a thousand times where Dirty Harry puts the bullet in the bad guy, and we get to go home feeling good about ourselves because it’s a safe world. That’s not reality, and I think what’s interesting is that Zodiac is more about what you have to do to move on from things in life. Things don’t get buttoned up into a pretty little package, and you don’t get to put them away.” Fincher “honestly is more collaborative than you’d think. David Fincher movies feel like David Fincher movies, but he’s a director who really likes writers. There are directors who don’t, who are sort of ego-driven and have to be the captain of the ship, but David, the way he comes at it is that if you’re the writer on the movie, he wants you to be the writer on the movie. That’s your job. You better come up with good stuff, and you’d better come up with good reasons for everything that happens in the script. If you do, great. It was sort of a wonderful experience. He’d say, “What if we try it this way?” and I’d say, “I think that’s a really bad idea because of this, this, and this.” He’d go,”Okay” and I’d go, “Really?”… [B]ut you have to pull your own weight with him… I honestly think part of being a writer is that you deal in dark shit so you don’t bring it out in your real life. I’m a pretty happy-go-lucky guy because I can deal with dark shit and get it out on the page and not have it follow me home.” [More at the link.]

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon