Books Magazine

Graham Flanagan

By Scriptedwhim
Graham Flanagan
Graham Flanagan is a producer for Bloomberg Multimedia in New York City. He is a frequent contributor to the website and a staff writer for the New York Jazz Record.
Graham on...
The Process
You always hear writers say that the hardest part of writing is simply sitting down and doing it. I'm not a great writer, but I tend to agree with that sentiment. Lately, however, I've begun to enjoy the process of editing myself; looking at a big body of content and then paring it down into something that will be presentable and accessible to audiences. I find it a little easier to actually sit down and simply create because I know that in order to begin the editing process, I must give myself the freedom to just spill my ideas onto the page without any limitation. For example, a previous version of that sentence that you just read was a whole lot longer. After I wrote it, I basically chopped it in half, creating something I liked much more, and now I'm satisfied. It took a little self-motivating to initially write it, but by the time I got to cutting it down I just came naturally; I didn't require any motivation at all.
New ScriptsI think that , for a script to be effective, something always needs to be at stake. That needs to be in the back of the writer's mind at all times. Even though I'm a huge Tarantino fan, I think he sometimes breaks this rule, especially in the long dialog sequences in Death Proof and Kill Bill Volume 2. With some of those monologues, I feel like nothing is really "at stake." We're just waiting for the character to finish talking so the next thing can happen. I'm not saying I don't enjoy many of Tarantino's longer monologues. Those are just two movies where I think the approach detracts from the narrative. I think that, because Tarantino has such a massive influence on so many writers, his ability to get away with this could potentially have a negative impact on up and coming writers who should focus more on progressing their stories and less on trying to impress themselves and others with the style of their dialog.
Like any great movie, book or piece of music, you want great writing to absorb your attention to the extent that you forget whatever else might be going on in the world at that time. For me, that's happened recently with the movie Chronicle, the book "Dead Solid Perfect" by Dan Jenkins and the song "Bands A Make Her Dance" by Juicy J.
For that specific project, I was inspired by All The President's Men on a very superficial level. It has a sense of urgency or a deadline that I wanted to try and convey. I also tried to mimic the tone of Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, where there are outside forces that we don’t actually get to see that are controlling the sequence of events playing out on screen.
I'm still an aspiring screenwriter and have a lot to learn, but I'm confident in my ability to craft a narrative that can be successfully translated to the screen. I haven't made a film since 2005, when I was in college. Since then I've enjoyed a career as a producer in TV news. But I felt like that film, The Machine, despite its myriad of flaws, I feel like it establishes characters with clear motivations that work within a compelling narrative that eventually pays off at the end. So that movie started as a broad idea-- a thriller about the University of Alabama political machine-- butI was able to take that and create a focused story work. Again… it's far from perfect. 
AdviceI wish I had more of a willingness to edit myself. That's perhaps the biggest lesson I've learned during the course of my TV news career. Both of my 'short features' were way too long. Lots of fat could have been trimmed and some scenes perhaps should never have been filmed! You can't be married to every idea you have. You have to be willing to 'kill your baby,' as they say. You are creating a product, after all. And it's hopefully a product that you want other people to consume. You always have to keep that in mind. I think thatwhen I was in collegeI was so focused on what I thought was cool, or what I thought worked. After a few years in this business, it's become much easier for me to look at my own work objectively and to benefit from the incredible advantages of collaboration with others.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog