Tag Archives: Joss Whedon

Concentrated Passion – Joss Whedon on writing The Cabin in the Woods in three days

Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard wrote the movie The Cabin in the Woods in a concentrated time and space. One was downstairs in a hotel suite and the other was upstairs. They shared a printer and sent stuff back forth to each other, building on what the other was writing. They started at 6 AM every day and ended at 1 AM. They finished the script in three days. Three days! Here’s Joss Whedon talking about the process, culled from a number of different interviews: “This movie, Drew and I locked ourselves in the hotel for three days and all-time was the time to write.  We would break for dinner, but spend that time just going over what we still had to do that day.  We never talked about anything else, but because we were so locked into the vision of the thing there wasn’t a lot of downtime.  There wasn’t a lot of pacing, we wouldn’t get tired, we didn’t go, “Oh you know, let’s gab about stuff,” at any point.  The fingers kept flying; I mean I did a personal best on this which I think was 26 pages in a day…you know honestly, I’m not looking to top that (laughs).  We had done a lot of prep and everything, but it also came from our giddy joy at being able to write this.  We didn’t know if anybody was gonna make it, we just were like, “Oh my God.” Like War of the Gargantuas, they’re destroying Tokyo and we’re just having such a good time with it.  And to me it feels like the entire movie—you know how The Tree of Life all had to be shot in magic hour and it took forever?  This feels like it was all written at four in the morning.” What can we learn from this? Prepare: “We talked about this movie endlessly before we made it, even before we wrote it, because it’s the kind of world that we love to walk in.” Passion: Phrases that strike me: “locked in”, “it’s the kind of world we love to walk in”, Purpose – it helps to work with someone else, someone who’s simpatico: Whedon said there where no disagreements during the writing at all. Some disagreements came up during filming, but not in the writing together. Play: “our giddy joy at being able to write this” and “This feels like it was all written at four in the morning” (there’s dark-night-of-the-soul four in the morning and there’s sleep-deprived-giddy-with-good-friends four in the morning – this is the latter). And the smaller the boundary (3 days in this case) the more concentrated the play can be. Persistence (the renewal side of persistence): Also, if you attempt a burst of passion like this, prepare to crash heavily after this. Don’t expect this to be the new norm in life and productivity, as tempting as this is. They did a three-day long giant in-breath and there needs to be an outbreath, an emptying in order to persist in the larger picture. Lastly, here’s my review of the movie, let me know what you think! The Cabin in the Woods – From the mind of Joss Whedon (Avengers, Firefly, Toy Story) and Drew Goddard, his co-writer on the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, comes a very creative spin on the horror movie genre. Truth be told, I don’t like horror movies. But the premise they came up with is exhilaratingly original, fun, and humorous. I won’t say more about the plot, as there are many twists and turns that are part of the pleasure (Whedon says, “the less you know the more you’ll enjoy the movie”). Written in three feverish days, Whedon manages to couple his brilliance at dialogue with a story you want to follow.

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Quix Pix of 2011 – Part 1

Every month we share some of our currently favorite books, music, movies and TV shows in our newsletter, The Quixote Quest. Here are six of our twelve favorite movies (in no particular order) that we watched in 2011. 1. Mary and Max – Funny, poignant, weird, claymation. That about sums it up and those words will either combine to excite you or not. There’s no real genre for a movie like this. Mary, an 8-year old girl in Australia, is pen pals with Max, a 40-something New Yorker with Asperger’s Syndrome. The moments of wonderfulness are many, and although the story pushes more than a little on credibility, and it’s not really based on a true story as advertised, you’ll be glad you spent 90 minutes with Mary and Max. 2. A Prophet – When was the last time you watched a prison drama that you actually cared about? Here’s a gritty one from France that was nominated for a foreign film Oscar, and although I really enjoyed the movie that won the Oscar – The Secret in Their Eyes (also another crime drama), A Prophet should have won. Jacques Audiard weaves a slow web that lets you get lost in caring about the main character, a young Arab (played by Tahar Rahim) put into a French prison with definite racial boundaries – you’re either Corsican or Arab. Rahim got the part when he met the director accidentally while sharing a cab from a movie set. Lucky for him and lucky for us! 3. Michael Clayton – George Clooney has really grown as an actor over the past few years, and we were deeply moved by his masterful, nuanced performance of a good man lost in a soul-less job. And his journey through the murky ethical waters of a modern-day law firm would have made Don Quixote proud. 4. Firefly (TV) – Sci-fi Western anyone? Great ensemble of characters from Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. It’s now being shown on a cable channel. The movie that came after the show called Serenity is also recommended. 5. The Tunnel – Sometimes it’s nice to watch a good old fashioned thriller with very clear people to root for and root against. The Tunnel is a 2005 German movie (yes, there are subtitles) that tells the true story of a 1962 tunnel dug by hand right under the wall between West Germany and East Germany so that more than 30 East Germans could escape. It’s fascinating now to look back at how controlling East Germany was and to revisit what it must have been like for the citizens of Berlin to one day not have a barrier and the next day…the wall. 6. The Lives of Others – This empathic thriller won the Best Picture Academy Award in 2006. Set in East Germany in 1984, the Stasi (East Germany’s state security force) eavesdrops on a famous playwright and his actress wife. The listener’s life is taken over by what he’s listening to. We get to see too how corruption betrays ideals, how personal values can trump everything, and how everything we do (or don’t do) has a consequence. The Lives of Others also wonderfully portrays the strange mentality of cataloguing and tracking everything (their aim was to ‘know everything’)…and either making everyone informants or prison inmates. It’s not to be missed – gripping, soulful and full of feeling.

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