Shane Black

Shane Black, the screenwriter

The process of writing doesn't change, whether you're being paid a great deal or nothing at all. Somebody asked me once, "Do you work harder now because you're making this much money?" Well, no. I think writers work as hard as we ever did. The process remains the same.

There's a sort of notion emerging that a writer's job might be recognizably as important as a director's job. Or -- God forbid, the actor's job. Suddenly there's a bit of validation coming our way. It's great, that writers are being recognized for their contribution to the process of making films.

I really don't think about the money. I don't think about what I'll get for the next one. It's important to forget about the money as much as you can when you're working because it will hurt you; it will hinder your ability to create a story if you're saying -- "OK, that was two words at eighty bucks a word." That's no way to work. I hope writers take away from the large amounts of money being offered for quality scripts the fact that they are important. I would also hope that writers respond by saying, "I'm gonna work harder at what I do and what I'm passionate about."

I'm a producer on this picture. Renny's been wonderfully collaborative. The director was so cool about letting me participate in the decisions. Even if we disagreed, he would make sure that I had my opinion voiced; tell him what I thought and why. He's been great.

The next picture I'll direct myself. I took this project on as a producer and participated from the beginning to the bitter end in every single aspect of it so I could see first-hand what I needed to know about how a movie is made. I've learned and observed as much as I can so when I direct next year a project I'm currently working on, it will not be a $70 million picture, it'll be a much smaller movie. If you try to make a $70 million movie the studio or the star --they'll just walk all over you as a first timer. So next year I'll hopefully do something over which I have a lot of control.

In my scripts I like to describe a lot of details. If I could, I would describe the angle and the portion of the neck at which the knife enters. I'm very fussy about that stuff. It's all in the script. The director can choose to use it or not, but I'm very specific and detailed about it.

It's unusual for a writer to participate as much in the making of a film as I did on "Long Kiss Goodnight.". I was a producer on this one, so Renny wasn't just being nice, he was actually acknowledging the fact that I was in a position on the movie of being producer. Although he was also very nice. I think that it was very useful to both of us to have a collaboration and I'm very pleased, but it still didn't get me the control I want. I mean -- I'm happy with this picture. I'm happy with the result. I still want to do it and know that I'm the guy that says, "Oh no -- the blue jacket -- not the green, the blue." I want to do that. I want to feel that one time. That way if it tanks; if it goes bad, I can say, "It's my fault." I want to go for something that is uniquely mine.

Read Shane's script here.

Interviews with: Geena Davis | Samuel L. Jackson | Renny Harlin

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