Posts Tagged ‘Darren Aronofsky’

The influence of “The Writer’s Journey”

February 21, 2011

 

It’s hard to tell how much influence “The Writer’s Journey” and my thinking have had on current cinema.  I work on a lot of projects behind the scenes but rarely get a screen credit and usually can’t talk about what I’ve done because my contracts forbid it.   It’s difficult to guess how much the book may be shaping modern storytelling.

The Writer's Journey 3rd edition cover

However, there’s a suggestion from two sources that it is part of the toolbox for at least one contemporary filmmaker, Darren Aronofsky.  Here’s a link — http://creativescreenwritingmagazine.blogspot.com/2010/12/black-swan-q.html — to a Creative Screenwriting podcast of an interview with the writers of Mr. Aronofsky’s BLACK SWAN, Mark Heyman and Andres Heinz.  About halfway through the discussion they mention how Mr. Aronofsky uses the 12-stage outline from “The Writer’s Journey” as a set of reference points for designing his stories.

And here’s the man himself, in an article from TheBrowser.com — http://thebrowser.com/interviews/darren-aronofsky-on-making-movies — in which Mr. Aronofsky is asked to describe five books that have been influential in his career.  “The Writer’s Journey” is one of them, standing in good company.  The other books he cites are Sidney Lumet’s “Making Movies”, Peter Biskind’s “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls”, Kirk Douglas’ autobiography “The Ragman’s Son” and Francois Truffaut’s excellent “Hitchcock”.  Mr. Aronofsky has kind things to say about “The Writer’s Journey” and its influence on his thinking about movie story-telling.

It’s particularly cheering to me that an avant-garde, independent-minded filmmaker like Mr. Aronofsky can find something useful in “The Writer’s Journey” which is sometimes viewed only as a template for conventional, orthodox narrative.  It shows that the Journey concepts have a lot of adaptability and that in the hands of an intelligent artist they can be used to support highly unconventional and original stories.

I’ve had some interesting conversations with Mr. Aronofsky on the patterns of myth and psychology that I was exploring in “The Writer’s Journey”.   During the production of THE WRESTLER he showed me some drafts and we talked about how to handle the complex emotional situation he created at the end of the film.  I look forward to more creative collaborations of that sort.

Mickey Rourke at full intensity

What I’m up to

September 29, 2009

I thought it might be interesting for people to get a sense of what I’m doing these days.  I work for the major studios as a union story analyst when such jobs are available.  Most recently I was at Paramount but all of Hollywood seems shriveled by the worldwide economic slump and I haven’t had a studio gig in a year.  Hello Hollywood, I’m available!  Meanwhile I do consulting jobs for various companies and go around the world giving lectures and seminars on story structure and the “Hero’s Journey” pattern derived from mythology and the works of Joseph Campbell.  I am working closely with the Swarovski crystal company on a number of film projects, and I consult with directors and writers on their screenplays.  In recent times I had a hand in Roland Emmerich’s 10,000 B.C., Darren Aronofsky’s THE WRESTLER, Helen Hunt’s feature directing debut THEN SHE FOUND ME, and a couple of Will Smith movies, I AM LEGEND and HANCOCK.  I had fun on all these projects but am particularly pleased about 10,000 B.C. where I can find scenes in the trailer that I definitely influenced.  These were some of the big turning points in the movie and I’ve discovered one of the things I’m good at is identifying and magnifying the effect of these turning points.  In one case, at the climax of the movie, I was insistent that the gold capstone of a pyramid had to be toppled in order to fulfill the requirements of an epic movie, and there it is toppling spectacularly in the trailer.  Cool.

And I have my own projects.  My book THE WRITER’S JOURNEY is in its third edition and has sold over 250,000 copies.  I’m working on another book, working title BOILERPLATE, that will present essential concepts and principles for writers and creative artists.  I’m writing a historical novel set in a time and place I love, and I’m scheming how to revive the manga or graphic novel that I started, RAVENSKULL.  The first installment was published by Seven Seas but it didn’t perform well enough to continue the series.  I don’t feel too bad; the same thing happened to Patrick O’Brian after sales of his first Aubrey/Maturin novels were disappointing, but an American publisher saw merit in the series and revived it.  Ravenskull is a medieval fantasy written as a sequel to Sir Walter Scott’s IVANHOE and I had the time of my life collaborating with the artist, the talented Elmer Damaso.  The next chapter is all mapped out and I’d love to see it in print.  Maybe I’ll write it up in novel form.