Friday, October 26, 2007
I'm just back from a BAFTA screening of INTO THE WILD with the screenwriter and director Sean Penn in attendance along with the star of the film, Emile Hirsch. The film comes out on November 9th and you must go and see it. It's based on a true story and it's best if you don't read any reviews, nor read the book. Just get yourself along and enjoy the journey. You'll laugh, cry and be entertained, and will look at the world in a new way.
In the Q&A at the end Sean Penn told the BAFTA audience that after reading the book he instantly wanted to make the film, but had to wait 10 years for permission. When he finally got the permission and without reading the book again, he picked up a typewriter and started the first 10 pages. He says he's a 10 page guy. If a script doesn't grip him in 10 pages, it goes in the bin so he wanted to make sure his own first 10 pages were the best. A lot of good scripts might not get the greenlight this way, he says, but at least he won't have wasted a lot of his life reading poor scripts.
After writing the first 10 pages himself, he then got an assistant to write, while he dictated what was going on in his mind. He describes the process as pacing up and down and smoking cigarettes for 28 days straight and the first draft was available. He showed the draft to Paramount Vantage producers and they gave comments back like "hate that bit". Sean laughed as he said they offered no suggestions or alternatives, just "hate that bit".
He thought he was going to have a hard sell as his movies had all lost money and here he was with double the budget, an unknown actor and an ending that wasn't normal for Hollywood. The producers fortunately had also read the book and it had the same impact on them, so within 24 hours, they said YES.
For me, the acting was incredible, not just from the very talented and hard-working Emile Hirsch, but from every character he meets in his travels. You'll see what I mean when you see it. Soon.
In the meantime, here's the website which will get you into the mood with some great music and images.
I think Sean Penn could well pick up a screenplay award for this one. He's got my BAFTA vote so far this year.
It's screening time over the next two months, so I'll bring you more snippets from other MUST SEE movies.