One of the highlights of the LA Film Festival is its “Coffee Talks” series, held every year on a Sunday, that gathers seasoned and venerated veterans to engage in an intimate and insightful conversation (yes, coffee is included!) about their given trade. From directors, to actors, to composers, to screenwriters, it’s always a don’t-miss event because of the wisdom the panelists impart.
This year’s Screenwriters Coffee Talk included Ed Solomon (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Men in Black, Now You See Me), Susannah Grant (Ever After, Erin Brockovich, 28 Days) and Max Borenstein (Godzilla, Seventh Son).
Here are a few pearls of wisdom (some self-evident but entirely apropos) they shared:
“There are no short cuts…early in my career as a stand-up comedian, I had the opportunity to meet Jay Leno. I approached him with a joke I had been working on and asked if he would hear it and tell me if he thought it was funny. His reply was this: Go on stage a thousand times and if you still have questions about your joke, then I’ll be happy to answer.” ~Ed Solomon
“Writers, you have to get your own ego out of the way. Writers screw themselves by defending their work too much.” ~E.S.
“The short cut for time is having someone else read your work.” ~E.S.
“You need to seek out critics and be harder on yourself than anyone else.” ~Susannah Grant
“I never disagree with a note in a room. Professionally, it’s stupid.” ~E.S.
“Gratitude and compassion, it cuts through so much.” ~E.S.
“The brain is the enemy of the writing process. It’s about emotions and how you feel.” ~E.S.
“Craft is important, but screenwriting is a lot like sex. When it’s really good, it’s not because of craft.” S.G.
And for highlights from previous years’ Coffee Talks, check out:
- 2012 (with Jonathan Nolan, John August, Zak Penn and Lorene Scafaria)
- 2011 (with Diablo Cody, Stephen McFeely, Dustin Lance Black, Josh Olson, and Christopher Markus)
Amy Senger is an L.A. transplant by way of Washington, DC, and co-founder of 1X57, named to Washingtonian’s Tech Titans list with her partner Steven Mandzik. Follow her on twitter @sengseng and follow the Pacific Punch @ThePacificPunch or email amy@1×57.com.