Programs Wed 4.22.2015

Writer’s Salon With Aline Brosh McKenna – “The Equation for Success in Writing is Ass Plus Chair”


Aline Brosh McKenna, the witty screenwriter behind The Devil Wears Prada, 27 Dresses and We Bought a Zoo, was one of the panelists at the recent Film Independent Writers Salon hosted on April 15. This event was organized to create a space for writers to provide advice and insight into their craft. McKenna shared with us her influences, writing challenges and her cure for writer’s block.

What screenwriter has most influenced you and how?
There are so many whose work has influenced me, but when I was first thinking about becoming a screenwriter, the careers I looked at most closely were Scott Frank [Out of Sight, Minority Report] and Nick Kazan [Matilda, Bicentennial Man]. They were both remarkably consistent and excellent, across many genres. They were the first contemporary screenwriters whose names I noticed who were not primarily directors. If you saw their name, you knew it was special, and they inspired me.

Hardest scene to crack in Annie or We Bought a Zoo?
We Bought A Zoo presented a challenge because in real life Ben’s wife was still alive when they bought Dartmoor. Making the decision to start the movie with her already gone was a tough one, but felt like the best way for the audience to understand her loss and what it meant. To me, the whole movie was a love letter to her and I hope the movie plays that way even though she is not in any of the present-day scenes.

Biophoto copyFavorite cure for writers block?
I sort of think it’s all writer’s block. Every day you have to overcome the little kernel of resistance in your body to writing. Over time, and in certain phases of the process, it gets easier. But the best cure of all is getting a job and knowing someone is paying you and waiting for a script!

Best and worst advice about screenwriting you’ve ever received?
Best would be the person who told me the equation for success in writing is ass plus chair. And the worst might be people who give you hard and fast rules. There are none.

Best line of dialogue in the history of cinema?
Gosh, so many to choose from. I’ll just pick one favorite from Tootsie.
Rita: I’d like to make her look a little more attractive, how far can you pull back?
Cameraman: How do you feel about Cleveland?

Lorena Alvarado / Film Independent Blogger