Any lover of film, as well as audiences all over the world, have enjoyed the work of this legendary writer/producer/director. He spoke to a SRO crowd in a stuffy, cramped room; with all of us happy to bear the discomfort in order to hear what he had to say.
Mr. Kasdan’s movie credits include: Body Heat, The Accidental Tourist, The Big Chill, Wyatt Earp, Silverado, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and The Bodyguard. He fought against a Hollywood system early on (that didn’t and still doesn’t understand the ensemble story) in order to make The Big Chill, a movie that MUST be studied if you want to write a script giving equal weight to every character. He helped George Lucas continue the Star Wars saga to become some of the most successful and influential movies ever made. But I suspect most of us were there out of love and respect for Kasdan’s body of work, and how he has kept alive the flame of art within his work throughout the years. I wish I had taken more notes, but here’s what I did scribble down during his wonderful talk. Make sure you attend his panels if you ever get the chance. His insights are consistently provocative and keen.
- Seven Samurai (a film by Akira Kurosawa) is the best movie ever made.
If you are not familiar with the films of Kurosawa, watch them, and watch them all. Kasdan considers this Japanese director to be one of the greatest to ever grace the screen with his work, producing perfect classics. If you really want to write good movies, Kurosawa’s body of work is one you absolutely cannot skip. Kasdan deconstructed some of Kurosawa’s stories and characters to give us examples of how they contain every necessary element for masterful storytelling in film. (One of my personal favorite gangster films is Kurosawa’s The Bad Sleep Well).
- There are only three kinds of stories: 1). Someone comes to town. 2). Someone goes on a journey, and 3). Someone comes to town and then goes on a journey. He went on to elucidate with examples from well-known classics, and I’m betting you can look at your own favorites and see how his statement bears true.
- When writing an ensemble script, give each character a different, predominant personality trait such as reliability, vanity, courage, confusion, etc., in order to create differentiation and range that equates to a full “team” working together to tell your tale.
- Hollywood has cut jobs by 25% in recent years due to the suffering economy, making entry harder than ever. He is also of the opinion that the work coming out of Hollywood isn’t anywhere near as good as it used to be.
Writer’s be warned.