“We want power because power is a great disguise.”
“People all over the world spend countless hours every week being fed entertainment in the form of movies, TV shows, newspapers, YouTube videos, internet, and it’s ludicrous to believe this stuff doesn’t alter our brains. And it’s just as ludicrous to believe that this mass distraction and manipulation is not convenient for the people who are in charge.
People are starving. They may not know it because they are being fed mass-produced garbage. The packaging is colorful and it’s loud, but it’s being produced in the same factories as pop tarts and iPads by people who sit around thinking: “What can we do to make people buy more of these?” And they are very good at their jobs.
The world is built on this now. Politics and government are built on this. Corporations are built on this. Interpersonal relationships are built on this. And we’re starving – all of us. And we’re killing each other. And we’re calling each other liars and evil, because it’s all become marketing and we want to win. Because we’re lonely and empty and scared and we’d like to believe winning will change all that. But there is no winning. What can be done?”
“Say who you are. Really say it, in your life and in your work. Tell someone out there who is lost, someone not yet born, someone who will not be born for 500 years. Your writing will be a record of your time. It can’t help but be. But, more importantly, if you’re honest about who you are, you’ll help that person be less lonely in their world and it will give them hope. Give that to the world, rather then selling something to the world.”
E. Cummings says: “To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight.
“Don’t allow yourself to be tricked into thinking that the way things are is the way the world must work and that, in the end, selling is what everyone must do. Try not to.”
“The world needs you. It doesn’t need you at a party, having read a book about how to appear smart at parties. Those books exist and they are tempting. Resist falling into that trap. The world needs you at that party, starting real conversations, by saying “I don’t know”, and being kind.”
“Do you. It isn’t easy, but it’s essential. It’s not easy because there’s a lot in the way. In many cases, a great obstacle is the deeply seated belief that “you” is not interesting. And since convincing yourself that you are interesting is probably not going to happen, take it off the table altogether. Agree: “perhaps I am not interesting, but I am the only thing I have to offer. And I want to offer something. And by offering myself in a true way, I am doing a great service to the world, because it is rare and it will help.”
“So you are here and I am here, spending our time as we must. Time must be spent. I am trying not to spend my time as I spend most of my time: trying to get you to like me, trying to control your thoughts, to use my voodoo at the speed of light, the speed of sound, at the speed of thought, trying to convince you that your [time] with me is not going to be resented afterwards. This is an ancient patterns of time usage for me. And I am trying to move deeper, hoping to be helpful. This pattern of time usage paints over an ancient wound and paints it with bright colors. It’s a sleight of hand, a distraction. So, to attempt to change the pattern, let me expose the wound.
I now step into this area blindly. I do not know what the wound is. I do know that it is old, I do know that it is a whole in my being, I do know it is tender, I do believe that it is unknowable, or at least inarticulable. I do believe you have a wound, too. I do believe it is both specific to you, and common to everyone. I do believe it is the thing about you that must be hidden and protected. It is the thing that is tap-danced over five shows a day, it is the thing that won’t be interesting to other people if revealed, it is the thing that makes you weak and pathetic and the thing that makes loving you truly impossible. It is your secret, even from yourself. But it is the thing that wants to live. It is the thing from which your art, your painting, your dance, your composition, your philosophical treatise, your screenplay is born.
If you don’t acknowledge this, you will come up here when it is your time, and you will give your speech, and you will talk about the business of screenwriting. You will say that as a screenwriter you are a business machine, you will say that it is not an art form. You will say what a screenplay looks like, you will discuss character arcs and how to make likeable characters, you will talk about box office. This is what you will do, this is who you will be and after you’re done I will feel lonely and empty and hopeless.”
“It’s a massive issue, because the business I’m in is the same business that politicians and corporations are in. It’s a business of selling of something that’s important to them by disguising it as something that is important to you. It’s ubiquitous and I don’t think it’s symbiotic.
By being honest, thoughtful and aware of the existence of other living beings, a change can begin to happen in how we think of ourselves and the world and how we think of ourselves in the world. We are not the passive audience for this messed-up power play. We don’t have to be. We can say who we are. We can assert our right to existence. We can say to the bullies and con-men, the people who try to shame us, embarrass us, flatter us, to the people who have no compunction about lying to us to get our money and our allegiance that we are thinking, really thinking about who we are, and we are able to express ourselves – and with this other people won’t feel so alone.”
“Harold Pinter says: “A writer’s life is a highly vulnerable, almost naked activity. We don’t have to weep about that. The writer makes his choice and is stuck with it. But it is true to say that you are open to all the winds, some of them icy indeed. You are out on your own, out on a limb. You find no shelter, no protection — unless you lie — in which case of course you have constructed your own protection and, it could be argued, become a politician.”
“It’s weird to be a human. We get to think about things, we get to wonder – it seems like quite a privileged position in the Universe. And I wouldn’t give it up for certainty. Because when you’re certain you stop being curious.”
“We’ve been conned into thinking there’s a pre-established form to a screen play. Like any business, the film business believes in mas production. It’s just cheaper and more efficient as a business model.”
“I think craft is a dangerous thing. The danger of craft: it needs to be in second position to what it is you are doing. It’s seductive to put it in first position – often because what you are doing is meaningless, or worthless or just more of the same, so you can distinguish yourself by being very-very good at it. I think you need to be willing to be naked when you are doing anything creatively, because otherwise it’s very hard to separate it from marketing.”
“The speaker stand on the stage, he looks at the audience, he doesn’t really know why he is here, not really. More and more, in his life, he finds himself in places he can’t explain, not really explain. He knows he’s here to give a speech and he’s told himself he intend to do some good with it, but he knows that reason crumbles to dust under investigation. What he wants is to change who he is. Each predicament, such as this one, each challenge he accepts he accepts in order to move him to the next level of truthfulness. Each time he goes in hoping he will come out a real person.”
“Our culture is marketing, this is what we do. What is marketing? Trying to get people to do what you want them to. It’s what drives our consumer culture, it’s what drives our politics and it’s what drives our art.
I don’t want to participate. I don’t want to tell you you how to write a screenplay or tell you how to write a hit, or tell you how to fit into the existing system. I want to tell you that I have a hope that there’s another way to be in this world and that I believe that, with courage and vulnerability and honesty, the stuff we put into the world can serve a better purpose. The way that the movie industry works now – I’m talking about the mainstream movies – the absolute only goal is to get you to buy a product. And this intention creates the movies we sit through. And the movies we sit through create us. In government we have been reduced to the same game: through trickery, obfuscation, bullying, fearmongering the goal of marketing a candidate is achieved. I don’t understand many things, I don’t know as much as I would like about anything, but I am a human being and I won’t be in competition for the right to be treated decently. I won’t play that game, nor should anybody have to. In turn I will try not to use whatever access I have to the public sphere to sell things, including myself. The world is very scary now. It always has been, but something grotesque and very specific to our time is blanketing us. We need to see that it is not reality, it a choice that we are making or allowing other people to make for us.”
“You are born into a body, into a family, into a situation, into a brain chemistry, into a gender, into a culture, into a time, as am I. At times, I can feel this massive gravitation pulling of all these various things pulling me in different directions, creating me. I watch the reactions I have – they are as much my father’s as they are mine. I know they are inherited through genes and situation – just as they have been for my father – and I feel the immense loneliness of this prison, coupled with a great shame, because I can see that this prison has an opened door. But I cannot get through it. How weak I am. How can I not be a saner person, a healthier person, a more generous person? my sneaker company tells me that I can, and that it’s up to me. It is a sign of great weakness if I don’t just do it. And these are the priests of our culture, the therapists, the dad with a firm hand but with your best interest at heart: a sneaker company that runs sweat shops in third world countries – this is our dad.”
“Allow your screenplay to change and grow as you work on it. You will discover things as you work. You must not put these things side even if they are inconvenient. Let’s not disregard all the little voices in order to simplify. Do not simplify. Let’s not worry abut what it looks like, let’s not worry about failure. If you don’t risk failure, you’re never gonna do anything that’s different than what you’ve already done or than what somebody else has done. Just know that that is the choice you are making when you won’t put yourself at jeopardy like that.
Don’t compartmentalize to make things simpler than they are.
Don’t work towards results. Allow yourself the time. Let things brew. Letting the unconscious take over brings in freedom and surprise and removes judgment.
At every single moment, every single person wants something. Often many things. Often conflicting things. Understand this about your characters and about yourself.”
“Just like there’s nothing separate in the world, there should be nothing separate in the world you create.”
“I cannot tell you how to write a screenplay. Because anything of value you might do comes from you. They way I work is not the way that you work. And the whole point of any creative act is that. What I have to offer is me. What you have to offer is you. And if you offer yourself with authenticity and generosity, I will be moved.”