Film Courage: I was looking at another talented screenwriter’s site and her name is Shelley Gustavson. And she says in this one article “There are stories that you figure out and then write. And then there are stories that you figure out as you write them.” Any thoughts?
Barrington Smith Seetachitt: Oh…that’s interesting. Stories that you figure out and write. Or stories that you figure out as you write them…
Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn: I think that’s true both for my work as a journalist and a screenwriter. I can go into an interview believing that it’s going to go one way and it turns out to be an entirely new thing. [This] is a little off topic but I remember when 9/11 happened and I was supposed to have interviewed John Schneider at that time. He was Superman…
Barrington Smith Seetachitt: Father…
Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn: He was the father of Superman.
Barrington Smith Seetachitt: Smallville.
“If I’m honest, I’m always figuring it out as I write. Even if I go in thinking that I know what it is, I’m still going to end up figuring it out as I go. I have inside-out writing and outside-in writing and the outside-in will tend to be something where there is kind of an external story. And so you’ve got the container a little bit and you’re figuring out all of the ways that you’re furnishing and arranging what’s in that container and generating some new stuff.”
Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn: Thank you. For the CW show Smallville. And we had been trying to get this thing [the interview] together. We had cancelled and he was out of town. And so I contacted his publicists and she was like “No, he still wants to do it.” And it was the day that George Bush was delivering the prayer after 9/11. I was on the freeway and we still hadn’t heard from one of my cousins who lived in New York. And so I’m just like weeping in the car and it was just so stressful. So I pull myself together, I go to his home, his wife lets me in. He’s upstairs watching the prayer. I’m trying to get myself composed and he comes down and I’ve got journalism face on and I’m like “Hello, how are you?” and he’s like “Did you know anybody?” All I kept thinking was ‘We don’t know where Barbara is’ and I just broke down. So what I thought was just going to be this innocuous personality profile about this actor turned into a really interesting revealing story, not only about the character he was playing but what justice and what patriotism and all of these things meant.
So a story that was supposed to be this cute little personality profile about this actor turned into something deeper and richer. I talked to my editor about whether or not I should include that I wept on this man’s white shirt [laughs]. And so it was one of those things that even now in the work that we’re doing, we had a certain focus and idea about it and I think as we’ve gone through this screenwriting workshop in Switzerland and the experiences we’ve had there, just stepping back from the screenplay for a couple of weeks and then coming back and just kind of reevaluating what it is that we’re trying to say and how are we saying it and are we really affecting not only good story but are we really saying something with the way that we’re going. I think it can happen but I think it can definitely happen both ways. I was open to it as a journalist because it was always fun. It’s like a discovery when you have preconceptions of what your story is but then it develops into something very different. I think there is something very exciting about that and something very freeing about it if you allow yourself to open to that, it can go in a direction. Because I think even to a certain extent the things that we’ve done at least in this screenplay have moved further from what I thought my original idea was. But it’s so much better. I’m working on a documentary where I thought I was going to have a particular story that was going to go in a particular way and time and finances (because I don’t have the money to continue to generate it) once it’s done. I can see it’s already a different story because there was a particular timeframe on that story that I thought “Oh, I’m going to get it done and I’m going to get this and the personality is going to be great” and it didn’t turn out that way, you know [laughs]. And so looking at how that story can evolve now it’s going to be a…you know the story I wanted to tell was great. This story could be even greater because of not only my experience in time but because of new circumstances and new developments and new undertones and things like that. So I think working with something and having it be what you thought it was going to be is great but also the discovery of something new from what you thought you had is also a wonderful gift.
Barrington Smith Seetachitt: I think…yeah…really if I’m honest, I’m always figuring it out as I write. Even if I go in thinking that I know what it is, I’m still going to end up figuring it out as I go. Yeah….[laughs]. I have inside-out writing and outside-in writing and the outside-in will tend to be something where there is kind of an external story. And so you’ve got the container a little bit and you’re figuring out all of the ways that you’re furnishing and arranging what’s in that container and generating some new stuff. And occasionally I have the luxury of doing kind of what I call the inside-out where you just have almost nothing, where you woke up in the middle of the night with an image in your head or just this kind of very fragmentary thing like a grain of sand and then it’s like you’re making a narrative stone soup. You’re like “Here’s the pebble…” Do you know the story of stone soup? They go around and get the meat and the carrots and everything. Then it’s more like they found art by just pulling all of the things from your life: your memories, what’s going on, and you’re kind of building it out from this little thing and it becomes something where you really didn’t have much of an idea of what it was going to be at all and so that’s pretty fun. And that would again be an example of figuring it out as you go.
MORE VIDEOS WITH BARRINGTON & JANICE
Question: Do you figure out your story and then write it? Or do you figure out your story as you write it?
SURVIVING SKOKIE: They survived the horrors of the Holocaust and came to America to put the past behind. For decades they kept their awful memories secret, even from their children. But their silence ended when a band of neo-Nazi thugs threatened to march in their quiet village of Skokie, Illinois “because that is where the Jews are.”
Surviving Skokie is an intensely personal documentary by former Skokie resident Eli Adler about the provocative events of the 1970s, their aftermath, his family’s horrific experience of the Shoah, and a journey with his father to confront long-suppressed memories.
“Hi, Mom!” Zooppa has partnered up with T-Mobile on a brand new project! T-Mobile gives its customers unlimited data and texting in over 140 countries and destinations—at no extra cost. T-Mobile wants to inspire those customers to travel and get off-the-beaten path—to be explorers, not tourists—and unlock adventures they can share when they take their phones. The ‘Hi, Mom’ project focuses on sharing the most extreme moments of adventure outside of the United States with family and friends back at home.
The project is open for submissions until February 21st, 2017 at 4:00 PM PST. There are $40,000 in total cash awards available that will be assigned to the top eight videos chosen by T-Mobile. In addition to the cash awards, all winning videos will also be featured on T-Mobile’s social and web platforms or as a part of a compilation celebrating adventurous moments from around the world.
THE WEEKEND SAILOR is a new feature documentary about the unexpected victory of the Mexican yacht Sayula II in the first crewed sailing race around the world in 1974. The most demanding sailing quest in history.
Sailor, Ramon Carlín visits his rebellious son, Enrique in the United Kingdom and comes across a magazine advertising a sailing race around the world. Although he had been sailing casually for two years, Ramon embarks on this race and brings his son along as an opportunity to not only teach him discipline but real life experiences as well.
Catch 22: based on the unwritten story by seanie sugrue: With Hurricane Sandy looming on the horizon, five hard-lived friends come to from a send-off celebration alongside an unexplained dead girl. What are friends for?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT): Zooppa and Nickelodeon are inviting filmmakers and motion graphic artists from around the world to reimagine TMNT on a global scale through depicting what they are up to in various home towns or cities. The goal is to show how the Turtles would come to life in any given location, using local city or pop culture influences to help tell the story. Zooppa and Nickelodeon are looking for imagination and creativity, the videos made should be a fun way to share Turtle stories from across the globe––authenticity is key!
The project is open for submissions until February 23rd, 2017 at 4:00PM PST. There are $25,000 in cash awards available to the top 10 videos that will be chosen by Nickelodeon.