Writer / Producer Scott Z. Burns (Bourne Ultimatum, Contagion, Side Effects) visits Met students
Last month we had the absolute pleasure of hosting a Met Go ‘In conversation’ event with Writer/ Producer Scott Z. Burns and our MA Screenwriting students. Scott has written the dramatic adaptation of Met Film Production’s award winning documentary, Deep Water, which James Marsh is currently shooting, starring Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz. Scott has written for Hollywood films including The Bourne Ultimatum and within the independent movement (Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion and Side Effects to name but a few).
In an age where the power is back in the hand of the screenwriters within TV, film and online content, Scott provides some top tips for aspiring screenwriters:
- You don’t sit down until you have an idea: It’s about having that strong idea and then the discipline to see it through.
- Play with narrative structure: The real experience for the audience is in the middle of story, that’s where the work is. Steven (Soderberg) and I became obsessed with trying to change narrative structure rules within screenplays. Your story shouldn’t be like an airplane flight, exciting take off and landing but nothing going on in the middle. That’s the thinking that I take into each new project.
- Dialogue is everything: the syntax, the rhythm, what human beings don’t say is as important as what they do say. What I liked about writing Bourne Ultimatum is that I was able to ask if Bourne could find out what he needed to know about himself. It was the cool, existential problem within the series- who is Jason Bourne?
- Push the boundaries: With Bourne, (in the infamous Waterloo station scene) I wanted an intense location, but one I knew like the back of my hand. I used to commute out of Waterloo everyday, so I felt that I was able to create this complex action scene featuring hundreds of people. When writing an action sequence like this, you really can’t put much on the page. You have to go down to the location and scope out where the cameras can go, take the stunt team and see what is actually possible. I’m very proud of how it came out.
We asked Scott about Deep Water, the Met Film Production documentary on Donald Crowhurst that he recently wrote into a dramatic fiction feature film. He stated that when he first saw the film, he was ‘moved to tears.’ He went on to say that during the writing process, “I wanted to put me in there, my own feelings and desire to do something remarkable.”
Keep your eyes peeled on our website for more updates on Industry guests at Met Film School, as well as news on the Met Film Production projects coming up, featuring work by our graduates and current students.