“You can’t write poetry on a computer,” says Quentin Tarantino, and he can’t write his screenplays on one either — he does it old school, longhand, in a notebook, putting his words in typewritten form at the last possible second. It may make him sound like a Luddite, but he’s far from the only one; plenty of Hollywood’s most successful scribes prefer to work by hand, at least in the early stages. This week, we found out that Lawrence Kasdan wrote The Empire Strikes Back in longhand as well, and a trip down the Internet rabbit hole turned up several more popular films that were worked out by hand before they made it to the screen.
The Empire Strikes Back
These recently released pages from the Star Wars sequel script by Lawrence Kasdan (Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Big Chill) include the film’s opening scrawl, a dialogue scene between Han and Leia, the first encounter between Luke and Yoda (first introduced as “Creature”), and a map of the character dynamics. The film was released in 1980, with the screenplay credited to Kasdan and Leigh Brackett (from a story by George Lucas).
The Fantastic Mr. Fox
Wes Anderson wrote out the “whackbat” scene for one of his best movies in blocky handwriting — on hotel stationary from the Grandes Etapes Françaises, which is about the most Wes Anderson-y way to do something like that.
Quentin Tarantino is one of the most famous hand-writers, but he seldom lets his scribbles (notoriously filled with grammar and spelling mistakes) get out, aside from their title pages. But one of his lesser-known screenplays has made its way into the world. Back in 1993, as he was about to go into production on Pulp Fiction, QT picked up some extra cash doing an uncredited rewrite on It’s Pat, the big-screen vehicle for the androgynous SNL character played by his friend Julia Sweeney. The page above comes from that re-write, but even the Tarantino touch couldn’t keep It’s Pat from laying an egg at the box office. It wasn’t a total loss, though — in return for the favor, Sweeney appeared as Raquel (heir to the Monster Joe’s empire) in Pulp Fiction.
A League of their Own
The most frequently quoted scene in Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel’s screenplay for Penny Marshall’s 1992 comedy classic is the “No crying in baseball” scene, seen here in its nascent, scrawled form.
Another Ganz/Mandel collaboration, this one seen evolving from rough idea (note cards) to scene (handwritten page) to final written form (screenplay page).
Another look at the writing process, but this time for television: from notes to handwritten dialogue to final script for a Season 5 episode of one of modern television’s finest programs. The writer responsible? One Matthew Weiner.
My So-Called Life
Another iconic TV show in its embryonic stage: My So-Called Life creator Winnie Holzman outlines her ’90s classic (under its original title, Someone Like Me) and longhands notes for the pilot episode.
Texas State University’s Wittliff Collections painstakingly displays how screenwriter Bill Wittliff adapted Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel into an Emmy-winning smash.
[via The Wittliff Collections]
Even writers who pound it out at a typewriter or computer will often work out their ideas in longhand first. Take, for example, Taxi Driver scribe Paul Schrader, who worked out the many scenes for his adaptation of Jake LaMotta’s memoir via the page above.
And leave it to David Mamet to make an outline that looks more like a periodic table of dramatic elements; he used this chart for his 1991 drama Homicide.
[via Cinephilia and Beyond]