I met Lise Swenson yesterday. She was the substitute teacher for my screenwriting class. She gave us some background about herself and told us about her dreams & aspirations. She is the director of a documentary film that was made back in 2002 called “Mission Movie.” She talked a lot about how to create a movie that fits the audience you want your film to appeal to and I agreed with her 100%.
She said that if you want to write a movie and get a broad audience, your characters need to appeal to them as well. Having a bunch of older, unknown actors in the movie as opposed to having a bunch of beautiful, young actors in the movie is going to make a big difference in terms of your marketability. I really never thought of it that way at all even though it is probably your most basic of basics in choosing what kind of film you want to write.
We also watched a documentary called A Screenwriter’s Journey. It was about Waldo Salt, one of the world’s the greatest screenwriters. It talked about how Waldo Salt was a Communist and was blacklisted for refusing to testify before the House Committee of Un-American Activities. He eventually realized that Communism was a betrayal but still, he could not write for Hollywood, causing his spirit to plummet to zero. Salt struggled to write during the blacklisting under a pseudonym but even after the blacklist was over, he tried to write again and wrote 3 of his worst movies: Tara Bulbas, Wild & Wonderful, and Flight from Ashiya.
It wasn’t until 1969 when he did the screen adaptation for Midnight Cowboy starring Jon Voight & Dustin Hoffman and won himself an Oscar for it in 1970!! What a great comeback! I was truly inspired by this story. His ups & downs proved to make quite a roller coaster of a life but he kept on going until his passing in 1987. Just 6 months before his death, he won the Laurel Award for Screen Achievement, which is the highest award you can receive from the Writer’s Guild of America.
I hope one day, I will be able to pump out something beautiful on paper in a language that can move even the most callous of souls.
“To search for truth you must first have lost it” – Waldo Salt