Sunday, February 08, 2009

Prime Passage: Minghella on Minghella

The late great screenwriter/director Anthony Minghella in conversation on the topic of generating a screenplay:

"I play the piano a lot when I'm writing. I listen to music a lot. But just as you have to make peace with your voice, you have to make peace with your process as well. When I look at the madness of the way I write, it would be very easy to get enormously irritated. Even if I did one page a day, that's only 115 to 120 days of work. So, why does it take me a year and a half? What is going on with me? But I realize that the time spent reading the Book of Job for a day is not specious. It's because that's where my own particular journey requires me to be. Or when I'm spending two days examining the Smithsonian collection of early American folk music, it's not just indulgence. I know there's going to be a clue there somewhere that's going to feed the film. When I was writing The English Patient I walked into a record store because I wanted to listen to Hungarian music, and found a disc by a band called Musikaz. I put the disc on and the second or third track I listened to was called 'Szerelem, Szerelem' and that became the voice of the film for me. And I listened to that music repeatedly throughout. But I have to give myself permission to do that. There have been times when I haven't and I got very exasperated with myself and with everybody, and I didn't work well."

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Prime Passage: The Selected Letters of Wallace Stegner

From a letter written June 4, 1979:

"As for the book business, God knows. The Dalton Book kind of merchandizing demeans books and reduces them to merchandise like aluminum siding. But there are occasional bookstores -- there are three in this area, thank God -- that still like books, hire clerks who read and love books, and make every effort to get a customer the book he wants whether the merchandiser's computer says it's popular or not. So maybe there's hope. Tell me the struggle naught availeth, and I'll ask you what alternative to struggle you can think of. The big hard one to get around is why, in literature as in economics those that have, get, and those that have not get not. I could devise a fairer and more equitable system, but nobody has yet called me to the throne and given me the commission."

The Selected Letters of Wallace Stegner, edited by Page Stegner, Shoemaker & Hoard 2007