An evening with Shane Black

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  • An evening with Shane Black

    It's the 3%, not the 97% that sucks

    I was lucky enough to be in the front row drinking an Amstel listening to Shane Black. That was after a couple of duvel's at the bar while waiting for a fellow scribe.

    His introduction to the movie, 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' echoed his reputation of hating Hollywood. Essential he railed on the decadence and turncoats of this culture and that this movie was about an outsider coming to this place. I noticed his hands shaking constantly; was he nervous? On drugs? He did thank us for showing up and that Austin is supportive of his "lark". That if he did this in LA, no one would show up.

    The movie is playing, I'm enjoying the quirkiness of it. Then suddenly the dreaded feeling of knowing that you can't make it without going to the restroom. Now those beers come back to haunt me. I get up and leave the theatre to find Shane Black all by himself at the bar. Wow, here's my opportunity. Then I thought, opportunity for what? To be that weird guy that talks your ear off. Not today, I'll respect his privacy and move on.

    After the closing credits, he and some host setup shop with a bright spotlight blinding them.

    After the hosts asked some initial questions, someone shouted out, "Lethal Weapon 5."

    He addressed it and said that he wrote it and had meetings with Mel. The outcome: Mel doesn't want to seem desperate and would see making another LW as an insult to the public. Going off on Jews, not an insult apparently. Then someone asked what it was about and he wasn't really interested in talking about it, so he pocket vetoed the question.

    He then goes on to mention that he's not interested in talking about LW, or the old stuff.

    Another rant he had talked about his dislike of the movies currently in production. He then challenged us to make a difference. Return the glory of writing quality screenplays so the prodco's will buy them (or something similar).

    He then continues to say that he loves directing and that having the power to make decisions and stay true to his script was addictive (I'm paraphrasing). Then he rags on producers again as screwing up his work.

    An awkward moment occurred (surprisingly had nothing to do with me) when a guy was trying to make connections between this movie and Blowout and Mulholland drive (Brian De Palma influence). Shane was confused and chalked it up to it being LA and that's where most movies are filmed.

    Finally, it was my turn to ask a question. Would it be, "how important is Aristotle and the classics to your writing"? Or, "now that you're a director, do you want to make 'Shadow Company'"?

    "Sir, your question."

    I ask:

    "Have you written your magnum opus"?

    CUT TO:

    INT. ZEN'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

    An hour after an evening with Shane Black, the bedroom door opens. ZEN (3*) enters the room.

    A beautiful woman is snuggled between blankets, she is ZEN’S WIFE.

    The doorway reveals a greek geek wearing socks that don't match.

    ZEN'S WIFE
    How was it?

    ZEN
    I got to ask a question.

    ZEN'S WIFE
    What was it?

    ZEN
    If he has written his magnum opus.

    ZEN'S WIFE
    Huh? You have an opportunity to ask him anything and you ask that?

    Zen grabs a bottle of whiskey and starts chugging. He looks at the wall and sees a painting of a clown staring back at him.

    ZEN
    Yeah, I did.

    CUT TO:

    So yeah, apparently I'm a huge dork. Basically he acted like it was a stupid question. As if he was nowhere near writing his "magnus opus" as he called it. The funny thing is, I was thinking, is it magnus opus, or magnum opus and magnus opera. Man, I mispronounced that geeky phrase. Then when I got home, I realized I had said correctly (of course).

    It seemed that he was still searching himself in order to write his magnum opus.

    Then he moved onto the next question. Actually, this might have been before mine, but whatever.

    Someone asked him what he did during his hiatus. He said he was depressed, a bad relationship and a substance/drinking problem. But, he doesn’t look back and he's fine with it.

    He was asked about his writing style, which he attributed to being a blend of Goldman and Walter Hill. He said he didn't know anything about screenwriting being from Pittsburgh and once he figured out the simple format of INT/EXT he started to write.

    He also mentioned several times how no one wanted to work with Downey and Val. "One is a drunk, the other an a$shole". He talked about how Val f'd with,

    "So, Val did a painting with his partner Simon. I thought it was awesome, blah, blah. So, a week later Val gives me the painting as a present. Then a few days later he comes to my trailer saying that he didn't really have the right to give it to him because of his partner. So could I pay him a thousand dollars because normally they sell for $2500."

    Then when he was asked if he hated LA, he said no. That he doesn't hate the 97% of not having work, or being rejected, or producers screwing up your work and everything else that goes down the toilet. It's the 3% he hates. The 3% of the time it goes right. It's sooooooooo addictive that he basically made it sound like a drug and an addiction. This was the most humbling thing he said all night, imo. Someone as successful as Shane Black, doesn't get work??? Wow, man gotta rethink being a professional screenwriter, but then again have to make it first. Let's not put the carriage before the horse.

    Then, it all ended and he was swarmed with fans for autographs. Of course, after three beers, it was another bathroom run and I missed out on meeting Shane. But, I got to listen to him.
    Last edited by zenplato; 01-30-2009, 07:48 AM.
    The best way out is always through. - Robert Frost

  • #2
    Re: An evening with Shane Black

    Hahaha!

    Great post, Zen.
    @TerranceMulloy

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: An evening with Shane Black

      Originally posted by zenplato View Post
      It's the 3%, not the 97% that sucks

      I was lucky enough to be in the front row drinking an Amstel listening to Shane Black.
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      I was behind you in the second row. Interestingly, the front rows filled up last.

      Someone asked him what he did during his hiatus. He said he was depressed, a bad relationship and a substance/drinking problem. But, he doesn't look back and he's fine with it.

      I thought that was one of the best parts - didn't deflect anything and was quite honest. And human.

      Then, it all ended and he was swarmed with fans for autographs. Of course, three beers later, it was another bathroom run and I missed out on meeting Shane. But, I got to listen to him.
      I found the part about not being invited to join the academy due to his 'lack of substantive work' interesting. Knowing little about how that works....I was surprised. Also realized as I was leaving, we had met before in the Driskill bar the year that KKBB premiered at the Festival. Just didn't remember until then. (too much partying)

      The other thing was, if every aspiring screenwriter in the audience raised their hand when he asked...there weren't NEARLY as many as I thought would be there for a full house. When I moaned about driving 3 hours and then turning around and driving back, the guy next to me said they had flown from MAINE down to see him.

      It was very encouraging to hear how he HATES sitting down and writing, and how much he struggles with it. I despise those who don't have to wrestle with their inner demons every day to get out a page or two.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: An evening with Shane Black

        Originally posted by doitafraid View Post
        I found the part about not being invited to join the academy due to his 'lack of substantive work' interesting. Knowing little about how that works....I was surprised. Also realized as I was leaving, we had met before in the Driskill bar the year that KKBB premiered at the Festival. Just didn't remember until then. (too much partying)

        The other thing was, if every aspiring screenwriter in the audience raised their hand when he asked...there weren't NEARLY as many as I thought would be there for a full house. When I moaned about driving 3 hours and then turning around and driving back, the guy next to me said they had flown from MAINE down to see him.

        It was very encouraging to hear how he HATES sitting down and writing, and how much he struggles with it. I despise those who don't have to wrestle with their inner demons every day to get out a page or two.
        Thanks for the additional notes. There were so many nuggets there. I should have taken notes.

        I know another DD'er was there and asked a question, but I don't want to steal their thunder. Hopefully they'll post their experience.

        Thanks again...
        The best way out is always through. - Robert Frost

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: An evening with Shane Black

          Originally posted by zenplato View Post
          Thanks for the additional notes. There were so many nuggets there. I should have taken notes.

          I know another DD'er was there and asked a question, but I don't want to steal their thunder. Hopefully they'll post their experience.

          Thanks again...
          Yes, there was lots of fun stuff. I was going to take notes, then left my pad in the car. But after the Brian De Palma thing, I forgot what question I was going to ask anyway.

          Comment

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