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Interview [Written]: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely

Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who wrote the screenplay for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, go into some detail explaining some of the movie’s big twists in this Vulture interview.

SPOILER ALERT!!! ONLY CLICK MORE IF YOU ARE READY TO LEARN ABOUT KEY PLOT TWISTS!!!

An excerpt from the interview:

At what point was the decision made to take S.H.I.E.L.D. down so spectacularly in this film, and who was responsible for making it?
McFeely: That’s a Kevin Feige decision. A writer can’t walk in and say, “This movie’s not happening unless I take down S.H.I.E.L.D.,” but Kevin can walk in and say, “We think this might be pretty cool.” That gave us a lot of ways to go and opened up the storytelling, that Steve could have such an effect on the world. He doesn’t change as much as characters do — he’s sort of our Gary Cooper. The world does not change him too much — maybe we’ll try that in other movies — but in this case, it’s a success because he changes the way the other characters look at the world. And S.H.I.E.L.D. going down is part of that.
Markus: That particular decision came from Kevin, but there are a lot of mythology decisions in there that we pitched. The S.S.R. being under Camp Lehigh, Zola being in a computer down there — that’s all stuff that we pitched hard and eventually they said, “Let’s run with that.”
McFeely: They’re very open to ideas, and sometimes the weirder or more challenging they are, the more excited they get. They don’t want to stand still and they don’t want to be slavish to the comics. They want to create something that’s indebted to the comics, but not a one-to-one, panel-for-panel remake.

You reveal that two recurring MCU characters, Agent Sitwell and Senator Stern, are HYDRA-aligned. Agent Sitwell was particularly surprising for me because Marvel has been using him as a protagonist in their shorts.
McFeely: That was our pitch, and that was a lot of fun. With Sitwell, we needed to reveal someone who was boots-on-the-ground, who you’d seen before, to shake you up. Short of bringing Agent Coulson back to life and turning him bad — and we didn’t know he could be brought back to life — we had to use some returning characters to make this conspiracy story ring true. It can’t be all new people where you’re suddenly saying, “And Bob from Accounting who you’ve never met, he’s HYDRA too!” You needed one or two recognizable faces to make the reveal resonate.

For the rest of the interview, go here.

Interview [Written]: David Webb Peoples

Writer-director Lea Nakonechny interviews screenwriter David Webb Peoples (12 Monkeys, Unforgiven, Blade Runner):

Lea Nakanechny: Which do you begin with, character or story?

David Webb Peoples: Usually with a character scene. There’s an image of somebody doing something that defines them and makes you interested. Then you try to write a story around it and it doesn’t always work. I have many moments in my head I wish I could find the story for or build onto, and many instances of trying to build a story around a particular thing and not succeeding. These things linger over the years and sometimes, suddenly, you get it. But not always.

LN: Describe your writing process.

DWP: I have two separate careers. I stopped being David Peoples the screenwriter in the early 90’s and there was this other voice that came on which was David and Janet Peoples. Both work in a similar way which is, we have to have an outline. We sometimes cheat and get sloppy and our outline isn’t as good as it’s supposed to be and then we have big troubles with the ending.  Janet is much better at abstractly making an outline whereas I tend to get lost in the scenes. But, you have to have both. You have to be able to see it like you’re an actor, involved in these very intense moments, but if you can’t step back and be a god or a writer and make the moments into a narrative, then you have a problem. If you’re too removed and you don’t do the actor part then what you get is a mechanical construction. You see films sometimes that reveal that, where people just seem to be doing what some writer decided for them to do and that’s not a good place to be.

For the rest of the Scriptmag.com interview, go here.

Unforgiven is one of the best scripts I’ve ever read and an outstanding example of Narrative Voice which I describe in this post. If you have the script, read it. If you don’t have it, get it, then read it.

Interview [Written]: Lorenzo Semple Jr.

A 1983 Starlog interview with screenwriter and TV writer Lorenzo Semple Jr whose credits include Papillon, The Parallax View, Three Days of the Condor, King Kong, Flash Gordon and the TV series “Batman”. This interview focuses on Semple’s work on the remake of the James Bond movie Thunderball:

Is the man who wrote Batman for television and Dino De Laurentiis’ productions of King Kong and Flash Gordon really the best choice to script Sean Connery’s long-awaited James Bond encore in Never Say Never Again?

“Sean wanted this to be the greatest film ever made, so it wouldn’t appear to be a rip- off for the money. I was extremely apprehensive about that idea, because I felt a Bond movie-especially one that’s essentially a remake-would never be the greatest film ever made,” says screenwriter Lorenzo Semple, Jr., the Batman/Flash Gordon/King Kong veteran. “I tried to make it as sparkling as possible, but 1 think it would be a very bad idea to become super-artistic about this movie.”

One thing Semple need never fear -at least from disgruntled fantasy film fans-is the accusation of being an artist. “Perhaps I don’t take the movie business as seriously as I should,” he admits, “but I was looking to have some fun with this film, Having fun with a project is very important to me. Life is too short to do it any other way.”

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“The major change we made is that James Bond is in semi-retirement, and must force his way back into action. He’s the last person M wants involved, because he’s too dangerous and.they don’t do things like that any more. They want to get Bond out of the way. When he goes to the Bahamas, they think they’ve gotten rid of him. He in no way has the resources of the British Secret Service behind him. His only support comes from his friend, CIA agent Felix Leiter [played in the film by Bernie Casey]. At one point, we even had Leiter kicked out of the CIA and working in security for an oil company, but we had to change that back for legal reasons.

“The biggest area of contention concerned the geography. The same action which. previously occurred in the Bahamas would now take place elsewhere. I kept saying the story was more important than the location, but Jack and his lawyers were very nervous about moving the setting from the Bahamas.

“We were in a Catch-22 situation. We definitely owned this material, but if our movie wasn’t something like the Thunderball movie we would be in trouble-although, at the same time, we couldn’t use anything unique to that film. However, it really didn’t worry us, as long as we could get Sean. First, we would make it as different as possible. Then, if we had to pull it back, we hoped he would understand.”

For Part 1 of the interview, go here.

For Part 2, go here.

Interview [Written]: Rob Thomas

This is for all you Veronica Mars fans: A WGA.org interview with the movie’s co-writer and director Rob Thomas.

It’s hard to believe that Veronica Mars started – and almost ended – her life as a book pitch.

“It was supposed to be my fifth novel,” explains series creator Rob Thomas, “but I got hired on Dawson’s Creek, so I moved from Texas to Los Angeles and started working in television.”

Luckily for Mars-heads everywhere, Hollywood had its typically corrupting influence on the young writer. Confesses Thomas: “The very crass reason that it never became a book is because I could write TV scripts faster and make a lot more money doing that.”

Thomas’ quasi-avarice did two things. First, it helped him afford his Los Angeles home. Second, it gave birth to a show about a hard-boiled, teenage private detective that would amass an impressive cult over its three years on the air. So much so that when Thomas and series star Kristen Bell started a Kickstarter campaign to finance a Veronica Mars movie, they raised a record-breaking $5.7 million. Thomas directed and co-wrote with Diane Ruggiero the resulting feature, which hits screens today.

As a successful developer-creator for shows like Party On and the new 90210, Thomas now has his mortgage under control, so he’s coming full circle by putting out a series of Veronica Mars books that will continue from where the movie leaves off.

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Part of the charm of the original series was the whole kind of self-empowered young adult thing. You’re not going to have access to that because she’s a grown up now. How will you make up for it in the movie?

In a way, the logline was the selling point of the series; what made her unique was her young age, and in some ways, I feel like it’s also what turned people off. If I had not been involved with Veronica Mars and I read the logline “teenage private eye” I would have rolled my eyes and moved on. So I am interested in seeing what sort of response people have to this idea of a 28-year-old Veronica now, it becomes less of a hook.

Sure, she’s a young woman private eye but that doesn’t have quite the bang of a 17-year-old girl. Maybe it will make more people actually believe in it and think, “Well, it sort of makes sense, that premise no longer makes me roll my eyes.”

The fans who fell in love with her at 17 will be there for the movie and maybe the fact that she’s no longer a teenage private eye could invite more people in.

Fans played a huge role in the genesis of this movie. Did that influence your creative process? Did you feel pressure to give the kids what they want?

There was a bunch of the giving the people what they want. When we started to finance it on Kickstarter, I thought there was a chance that we might not get any theatrical release and if we did get a theatrical release, it might be 10 select cities. I was really thinking, We’re going to make all of the money on this movie from VOD. Since fans financed this movie, it’s going to be for the fans. So I really did write the movie thinking of it as a love letter to the fans, that’s what I’m going to give them. It’s really only been in the wake of this huge Kickstarter promotional explosion of getting over five million and being on the cover of Entertainment Weekly that made me sort of start to rethink that a bit.

Suddenly it became apparent that we would be released on a bunch more screens and the studio wanted this movie to cross over a bit. So we did add some stuff to the movie, we added a two-minute origin story main title sequence, putting the origin story up front for non-fans.

Even in the editing room in the aftermath I started asking myself the question of maybe I should include this bit or that bit because we’re hoping non-fans will join the party and that line might be necessary to bring them along.

I’d been toying for years with the idea of doing Veronica Mars as an FBI agent when we found her again, like a young Clarice Starling type. Yet once it became fan financed, I honestly couldn’t figure out a way that would roll in all the characters that people wanted to see into an FBI story. What is the case that allows me to bring Mac and Wallace and Piz and Dick Casablancas into the movie? Any idea that I had made me roll my eyes – so that’s one of the ways the fan financing influenced me. I chose a plotline that would let me get to all the fan goodies. But I am a fan of the show and a lot of the things that the fans dig about it are the things that I liked. I like having Dick Casablancas in the show, so I’m glad I figured out a way to use him.

Here is a featurette for the movie:

For the rest of the interview, go here.