We conclude our series on the films of Damien Chazelle with ‘First Man’, written by Josh Singer. One of the most accurately-researched biopic screenplays, ‘First Man’ captures the essence of Neil Armstrong’s life, highlighting his struggle to overcome the death of his infant daughter and how that marked his character even as the years passed, and he steadily persevered at his career until ultimately becoming the first human being to walk on the lunar surface.
In the second part of our series on the films of Damien Chazelle, we look at the evolution of the screenplay for La La Land, from its conception as a long-shot musical to the huge hit starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone that it became. It’s truly a story for the ones who dream. We talk about the key changes that were made to Mia and Sebastian’s storylines, as well as the dialogue and the surprising difference in length for a musical screenplay that by necessity encourages a writer to make sure that every scene counts.
They say that every good screenplay needs conflict, and Damien Chazelle’s first story ‘Whiplash’ delivers it on every page. In this episode The 21st Rewrite is looking at the tale of the teacher who goes too far, and asks if Terrence Fletcher is a well-meaning character with flawed methods or a true villain? The discussion also touches upon details about what was removed from the screenplay: Andrew taking drugs, some more personal details about Fletcher’s personal life, and a fascinating commentary on what Hungarian psychologist László Polgár has to do with all of this.
‘Particular Disposition’ is based on the last execution of two men for the crime of sodomy under English law in 1835. It was selected by the Austin Film Festival jury as the best stage play script of 2018. We were extremely fortunate to spend some time talking with the playwright, Benjamin Fulk, about his writing process and the importance of bringing this forgotten story back to the fore in the 21st century.
Find out more about Benjamin Fulk
‘Ex Machina’ addresses a theme that is becoming more relevant as the 21st century progresses, can artificial intelligence be developed to the degree that we mistake it for human? Written by British screenwriter and filmmaker Alex Garland, who has been on the cutting edge of science fiction for almost twenty years, it was a wonderful screenplay to assess due to his powerful use of character development, intriguing plot and intelligent concepts.
‘Sideways’ was an enjoyable script to discuss, because it is a comedy with many tragic elements that always stays rooted in reality and its flawed characters. Based on the novel by Rex Pickett and adapted for the screen by director Alexander Payne and writer Jim Taylor, it’s a tale of debauchery, adventure, love and friendship set in California’s Santa Barbara wine valley.
‘The Lost City of Z’ is a screenplay about the now little-known British explorer Percy Fawcett, who led a remarkable life, searching the Amazon rainforest for the ruins of the lost city at a time when most who ventured into the jungle never returned alive. But the screenplay covers so much more than that, and is primarily concerned with the monumental changes that occurred in the concepts of ‘culture’ and ‘civilization’ in the early years of the last century, as well as the impact a life like Fawcett’s can have on the family back home. We discuss the important themes that the screenplay addresses, and our personal experiences that shape our view of the story.
Set in post-war Germany, ‘Ruin’ led The 21st Rewrite to discuss the nature of hatred and redemption, the power of weaponized technology to cause mass suffering, Kurt Vonnegut’s testimony from that time, how the generations of the future will perceive the Holocaust in the absence of living memory, and the responsibilities of the screenwriter when dealing with the truth and fiction of these topics. Selected as the most-liked unproduced screenplay of 2017 by the Black List, ‘Ruin’ is the inspiration for another fascinating conversation.
‘Silence’ is a story that is meant to be pondered over and talked about with your friends. With a profound understanding of the meaning of faith, suffering and the struggle to choose the right path in life, ‘Silence’ is a masterpiece that led to The 21st Rewrite's most detailed and engaging analysis yet. We compare the screenplay to the original novel by the Catholic Japanese novelist Shusaku Endo, and consider Scorsese and Cocks' process of adaptation that took over two decades to do service to the source material.
The 21st Rewrite (William Coldwell and Alan Vazquez) are back to discuss the screenplay for ‘Manchester by the Sea’, which was written by Kenneth Lonergan. He then directed this film set in the Bay State seaside town of the same name, which started Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams and won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay in 2016. Our conversation covers how the screenplay conveys the sense of character and relationships that are built up over the course of the narrative and how personal tragedies can be written in a realistic way.