Three announcements before we begin today:
My progress bar is updated on the right side of my page. You might notice that my next manuscript – the mysterious “TMT” – is now named: Take Me Tomorrow. More information is coming soon!
As you know, I recently posted Why Writers Should Watch “Authors Anonymous” – a review of a new movie that I recommend to everyone, especially those who love the craft of writing. What you may not know is what happened the day I posted my review.
David Congalton, the writer of “Authors Anonymous”, contacted me about my review. We began talking, and he kindly agreed to an interview. I am sharing that interview today. “SAT” will be me (of course) and DC will be David Congalton. I had a great time interviewing him, and I think it’s important for readers and viewers of the movie to see what happened behind the scene. This is just another reason to watch “Authors Anonymous.” All photos shown are credited to Screen Media.
SAT – Why did you want to create this film?
DC – The short answer is that I tried screenwriting in two phases. During the first phase, I wrote 7 or 8 really bad “high concept” scripts, all designed to be commercial. Then I stopped and took a long break. When I finally decided to try screenwriting again, I opted for something more personal. I wrote what I knew. I wrote from the heart.
SAT – Many, if not all, writers can relate to the characters of this movie. Were all of these characters based on real people or were they created from a combination of experiences?
DC – I was a director of a writers’ conference for 12 years and I’ve seen aspiring writers up close. John K. Butzin and Henry Obert are based on real people, but the others are really combinations of writers I’ve come across, i.e. the writer who can never get beyond the idea stage, the writer who thinks self-publishing is the answer, etc. They’re out there.
SAT – Was there a certain character you feel more connected to? One you dislike the most? Why?
DC - I will always have a soft spot for Henry Obert, played wonderfully by actor Chris Klein, because Henry is based on me (except for the football stuff). I don’t dislike any of my characters. If I did, I wouldn’t write them.
SAT – What are some of your pet peeves that take place in the writing community?
DC – My biggest pet peeve has always been those writers who present themselves as “nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.” ANY AUTHOR can nominate themselves for something like $50. It means nothing, absolutely nothing, and when I see an author trying that, it tells me he or she is a phony.
SAT – Writers often have an expectation for other writers to be very well-read. This can create an unrealistic pressure for writers to say they’ve read nearly everything out there. “Authors Anonymous” shows this with Kaley Cuoco’s character, Hannah. What was the hardest and easiest part about portraying this conflicting issue?
DC – You’re right. Writers are assumed to be well-read and up to speed on all writers in all genres. But that’s rarely the case. As I like to argue, a writer must also be a reader—you’ve got to be out there reading other people’s stuff. So we have a little fun with that in Hannah’s character. She really doesn’t have a favorite writer. She hasn’t read the classics, but she still manages to succeed by drawing on her own experiences.
SAT – What is the reason behind the title?
DC – My title for the script has always been Scribble. The producers changed the title to Authors Anonymous strictly for marketing purposes. Research shows that Video on Demand movies get more downloads if the title begins with A, B, C, or D.
SAT – What is your favorite quote from the movie?
DC – I don’t have a favorite quote, but I have a favorite scene—it has to be the one where, during the meeting of the writers’ group, Henry is talking about the evolving relationship between his characters Scotty and Kristy, when actually the conversation is about Henry and Hannah. It always breaks my heart when Hannah says the characters are just friends.
SAT – All great stories have a lesson hidden in them, waiting to be interpreted. Do you think writers can take different meanings from the lessons in the story?
DC – No two people are going to react the same to Authors Anonymous. I hope that all writers who see the movie appreciate my message that you have to do the work as a writer. There are no shortcuts. But I’ve been to multiple screenings and each audience reacts differently in terms of humor and raw emotional response.
SAT – As a writer, what was the most nerve-racking part of sharing this story?
DC – The most nerve-racking part was wondering if this movie was ever going to get made. First draft written in September 2005. Production finally in August 2012. Theatrical release in April 2014. Do the math: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9 years from page to screen. I think that’s more than sufficient cause for anxiety!
SAT – Are there any new projects in the mix?
DC – Yes, thank you for asking. I have a second script, Seven Sisters, currently under Option. I’m doing the final rewrite now, and we hope to be in production this fall.
SAT – Last question: Who is your favorite writer?
DC – That’s easy. My favorite writer is Richard Brautigan, a humorist and author of such classics as Trout Fishing in America and Revenge of the Lawn. Keen observers of Authors Anonymous will note that the famous author there is named Richard Brodwell.
SAT – Thank you for speaking with me, David! I enjoyed your movie tremendously, and I will keep my eye open for your future works.