Triple threat Lake Bell, actor/writer/director, is one of the Film Independent Spirit Award nominees for Best First Screenplay for In A World… The film—in which she stars and also directed—is a hilarious romantic comedy about a struggling vocal coach who strikes it big in the cutthroat world of movie-trailer voiceovers, only to find herself in direct competition with the industry’s reigning king: her father.
Here, Bell talks about the inspiration she gained through writing letters home as a child and why she won’t wear pajamas when she writes.
Who was the first person you contacted when you heard you were nominated for a Spirit Award?
My husband Scott Campbell. He’s been with me for all of it and then some.
Will you approach writing your acceptance speech in the same way you do a screenplay? How so?
Is this a trick question to test my humility? I will let myself off the hook by remaining supremely jazzed to be invited to the party but assume that a speech won’t be necessary.
What was one thing that you learned while working on In A World…?
Dress to write; No matter what draft you’re on, never wear pajamas to work.
How many drafts did it go through?
Over 15, under 25. As it was my first screenplay, I wasn’t as organized about tracking my drafts.
Was there one breakthrough moment that helped everything fall into place?
Over lunch, my friend suggested that I lace my personal passionate plight of the sexy baby vocal virus running rampant on America’s female youth into my protagonist’s mission in life. I was feverishly inspired and immediately went home to unlock a series of solves. Good lunch, smart friend.
What was the toughest scene in In A World… for you to write?
The most difficult scene to pen was between Louis and Carol in front of the red wall, where Louis reveals that Sam Sotto plans to compete against his own daughter. In fact, mid-shoot, I rewrote and reshot the scene which is when I added Louis’ bouncy “positive road-blocking” interjection which is one of my favorite moments in the film.
Name an actor you’d most like to see perform something you’ve written.
What was the first story you ever wrote?
The earliest memories I have of writing anything imaginative are letters to my mother. I was away from home most of my childhood (camps, years abroad, boarding school, college) so I was often in the position to relay written correspondence. My mother, being a beautiful writer herself, has always been an inspiring recipient and responder. I owe her a lot for her encouragement and wisdom.
What’s the best advice about writing that you’ve ever heard?
“What do you want to see next?”
What’s the worst advice about writing that you’ve ever heard?
“There should be more fighting.”
What is the greatest line of dialogue in the history of cinema?
“Better to be a king for a night, than a schmuck for a lifetime!” –Rupert Pupkin, King of Comedy
Tune in to IFC at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on March 1, 2014 to find out the winners of the 2014 Film Independent Spirit Awards.