Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Guillermo del Toro on screenwriting

with one comment

Guillermo del Toro and Doug Jones on the set of Pan's Labyrinth

Screenplay is the toughest form of writing for me, because you need to be in present tense. You need to be describing things as they occur. And my screenplay teacher was really, really tough. He used to say, “Do not use any objectives that you cannot prove with the camera or the sound.” I read a lot of screenplays, and in Hollywood, they describe something that is impossible, like, “She walks by. We catch a whiff of the smell of her hair. We see the sunshine in her face. She’s a girl that brings joy into our life,” and you go, “All you’re going to see is a fucking woman passing by.” You know, or a fucking guy entering a room. You cannot objectivize. You have to prove what you’re saying. So it becomes very constricting…

I remember shooting Blade. There was a passage that said, “Blade holds Nyssa in his arms. She’s dying. He pulls out his own sword and cuts his wrists for her to drink from it.” It’s a very simple passage. And then Wesley [Snipes] is holding the actress, and I say, “Now you have to pull your sword,” and he says, “With which hand? [Laughs.] I’m holding her with both.” It’s a simple, stupid anecdote, but what is remarkable is what you really say when you’re directing or writing. You really need to plan those things. They cannot just be nice words.

Guillermo del Toro, to The A.V. Club

Written by nevalalee

November 24, 2013 at 9:00 am

One Response

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  1. This is wonderful-and good advice. One of my writing goals is to create a screenplay.

    The Straight and Uneven

    December 7, 2013 at 2:48 pm


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