"The way I work generally is I figure a code, a general measuring stick parameter. A thirty scene thing means that each scene is going to be around four pages long... I have a tendency to work rather mathematically about all this stuff. As I build this up, you'll see it's done vaguely by the numbers."Aren't you rushing to see the movie this fella is planning? I think you knew it was a man. But it's George Lucas and he's speaking privately in the first of five story conferences, five nine-hour story conferences about Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1978. He's spitballing away with Steven Spielberg, briefing screenwriter Laurence Kasdan.
Fancy reading the whole thing? A transcript of the entire thing is available right here in PDF.
I think I've said before that a reason the latest Indiana Jones film was so poor was that it was just a series of stunts with some bits to string them together. There were other reasons too, but that was one and it's a failing of a lot of films. But as I'd thought I'd heard and now know for sure, it's precisely how Raiders of the Lost Ark was done.
More, the stunt scenes they couldn't fit in went on to become the next couple of films.
So maybe George Lucas has a point.
Mathematical screenwriting? What's that line of Aaron Sorkin's? I can't find my copy of his book but it was a crack about network TV executives saying you can't have politics on TV, can't have people with moustaches... Sorking said something along the lines of: "People make up rules because it's considerably easier than learning the real ones."
Blimey. From Lucas to Sorkin in one blog. There is actually a chance these two fellas have never been talked about in the same breath.
But anyway, I was fascinated by the Raiders documents: the torrent of ideas, for one thing, but more how we know so very well how Kasdan absorbed all this and wrote something so very good.