When I first talked to Stephen Susco, I knew nothing more about him than “he was that guy who wrote the 'Grudge' movies," which I really liked. So it was a pleasure to talk with him, given his busy schedule and family life – he was tending to his 14-month old son.
We talked at length about the movie business and his new film “Red,” which was garnering rave reviews. As the interview progressed, it became clear he was someone who had gone through the trials and tribulations of Hollywood while still managing to keep that artistic integrity and passion about him. That same integrity that was forged growing up as a small kid in Pennsylvania. He was not only a really good writer and producer, but a really good person.
FM.C: How did you get started in film and writing in particular?
STEPHEN: Well, I always wrote. I wrote short stories when I was a kid, and I always loved movies. But I never like put them together because I'm from Pennsylvania, and I really didn't grow up in a film area.
It wasn't 'til I got to college and I started taking film classes out of curiosity. I was in the bookstore, there was a screenplay book called “Screenplay” by Syd Field. When I was in college, it was the only one on screenwriting you could find. I picked it up, and I was kinda curious about it, and I ended up adapting a book I was reading at the time.
And I just kinda got the bug, so I wrote a couple of scripts while I was in college and kept making short films. I made a film that won an award in California, so I came out here. And everybody was like, “are you going to film school?” and I was like, “you can go to school for film? That sounds awesome! Better than law school.” So I ended up applying to film schools. Got into USC, so I moved out here and just kept writing. I got my first writing job when I was in school?
FM.C: What was your first job as a writer?
STEPHEN: I adapted a book called “Bone in the Throat,” and it was written by Tony Bourdain. He wrote the book as a bet. It was a really, really funny book about cooking and the mafia. Ted Demme was directing it. It was at New Line cinema. They had somehow got their hands on something that I had written and just called me at my crappy USC apartment out of the blue and flew me out to New York with my writing partner to meet everybody, and I ended up getting the job.
It was a pretty great first job actually cause everybody was pretty amazing. The director was great; the novelist was great; the producers were great. It was almost downhill from there after awhile. I was pretty lucky because most people have a nightmare first job.
FM.C: That's pretty rare to see a writing sample and be flown out there.
STEPHEN: Everybody's got their own crazy story about how they got started, and for me, I had written a lot by that point. Also, when I got to USC, I got a really good recommendation from someone. What the school's going to be able to do for you is somewhat limited, so you should try to get an internship at the studios and you can learn a lot, so I ended up getting an internship at Warner Brothers at a production company over there.
My job was basically to get coffee and water for people in the morning and alphabetize the script library . . . but I read all of them, and listened to people talking on the phone and started to figure out how the business actually worked, things you couldn't really get in school. I kept writing and second semester I switched and interned at Silver Pictures: Joel Silver's company, which was good for me cause I grew up on those films; I loved his films. And it was also a totally different kind of shop.
The first place I worked was sort of a smaller company, Paul Weinstein's company, and they did a lot of sort of independent films and going over to Joel Silver, it was suddenly you're in a middle of an episode of Entourage but there was a guy who worked there who had aspirations to be a producer also, and he had found out that I had written a couple of scripts and he said you know I have this project that needs re-writes, and I have this director involved. Can't pay you, but if you're interested that be great. I ended up re-writing their script for them, and that's the script that ended up at New Line cinema a number months later and led me to get my first gig. It was kind of a circuitousness path- I didn't have an agent at the time.
FM.C: How many screenplays had you written before you got your first job?
FM.C: How long does it take you to write a script?
STEPHEN: It depends. When I wrote the first one, I was in the middle of reading a book, and I was also in my freshman year of college, so it probably took three months. But by the time I had gotten into film school, when they asked me to re-write the script, they were trying to raise money, they were trying to get to the Cannes film festival, and I think it was February or March when they brought me on to do it, I had like two weeks to overhaul the whole thing.
You know everyone I've done before had a different time frame. It kinda depended on the pressure. If there was a lot of pressure, I did it really fast.
FM.C: You said you had a writing partner. How is that dynamic different that writing by yourself?
STEPHEN: Well, I've had a number of writing partners over the years, and I'm glad I've written with people because I think there can be great benefits to it -- there's someone who has a great bullshit detector.
When you're writing on your own, you can self-delude. If you have a writing partner, and they're good, you have someone continuously challenging your ideas, forcing you to come up with something better. And my early partners had their own skill sets, and I was able to really learn from them, and ultimately adapt things I learned from them into my own writing style. Also, when you're in a room you're not alone, and that can, if you've got a good partner, can speak volumes because rooms can be very tough, and if you have someone backing you up that can be great.
My first partner I did professional work with: we would go into pitches at the studios, and we'd have 14 people sitting around us. It can be pretty daunting. But at the same time, they have their own challenges, they're a lot like marriages filled with their own pitfalls and complexes. Success and failure can change stability in a relationship too. It just depends on the person and the team like any relationship.
FM.C: Do you write with anyone currently?
STEPHEN: I write by myself now, although occasionally I'll team up with somebody on a project. My producing partner and I just sold a script that we wrote together. But we've been working together for quite some time now, and we just sorta wrote this script for fun. When it comes to writing, I like to write on my own. When it comes to producing, I like to team up.
FM.C: What is your process as a writer?
STEPHEN: It's a little bit loose honestly. I like to sort of take my time and think out an idea before putting pen to paper. For me, I like to let the idea percolate and not pay too much attention to it and not sit down and hammer stuff out.
I like to carry a notebook around and just sort of let it gestate and let ideas come out of the slow cook. Ideas about characters , dialog, scenes. Just let it come out of the ether, and then after a few months, take the stuff I wrote in the notepads and take all the post-it notes that are all over the place and then compile them and then take a more aggressive approach and looking at it more formalistically. What specifically is the story, what specifically am I trying to say; what specifically are the characters, and then take a hammer to it and try to mold it into something that makes more sense.
Using both those tactics, once I start writing it gives me a better grasp of where I'm going rather than trying to hammer too hard in the beginning and kind of beat it to death.
FM.C: They say screenplay is about structure. Is there an outlining process for you?
STEPHEN: Once I have all the ideas that are loosely connected then I sit down and take that formalistic approach and part of that is an outline or a treatment, a hardcore look at the structure of the story. I certainly love to go out and throw things at the wall and do experimental stuff not really knowing where I'm going, but once I've compiled all the random ideas, I like to switch over and find the structure.
I don't think it's about standard three-act structure. I think there's something to be said about three-act structure, but then you learn it and then figure out how closely you want to adhere to it or veer from it. If everyone wrote classic three act structure then you wouldn't have “Pulp Fiction.”
FM.C: You mentioned adaptation. What are the differences from writing adaptations versus an original screenplays?
STEPHEN: With an adaptation, the foundation has already been laid. The primary difference: I'm trying to stay true to what the novelist or creator had in mind. When you're doing something original, you don't have to worry about that. When you're adapting something, you have two masters that you have to negotiate between, your own creative impulses to try new things and invent new things within the existing framework, but you also have a certain amount of loyalty.
Once you get to the studio level of adaptation, they're generally not as concerned about being loyal and generally happy to reinvent everything.
FM.C: How do you go about compressing a novel into 90-120 page screenplay?
STEPHEN: Depends on the project. The movie I have out right now, “Red,” was not a very long novel and the writer was very economical and lean in terms of how he told the story so there weren't a lot of hard decisions to be made. But I've adapted a science fiction project where there were two novels and together they were about 1200 pages, and I had to put them into 140 pages of screenplays, and it's about sort of a questioning or figuring out what are the essentials of the story.
And writing a novel is a completely different than writing a screenplay because you have freedom in structure and you have freedom in time. You can take as much time as you want on describing scenes and moments; and plus you have a point of view that's different than film -- you can directly get in someone's head via the words on the page in a very literal sense.
And in the movies you have to figure out how to get into the characters head using the camera, using visuals, and trying to be a little more subtle, that allows a glimpse into the characters psychology through a shot, a moment, a reaction as opposed to twenty pages of internal monologue where a character's talking about exactly what they're thinking.
But I think it's a really fun challenge to try to figure out how to translate one medium of story communication into another.
FM.C: How did you get involved in adapting a short for the “Grudge”?
STEPHEN: They were two shorts that Roy Lee had gotten from Japan the night before he and I had met. We met and totally hit it off. He was surprised that I was into Japanese film. He was in the middle of producing the “Ring.” A lot of people hadn't seen “Ringu” yet. I was a big Stephen King fan; he was a big Stephen King fan. So we had a lot of common ground.
He told me he got these movies last night, and they were “the scariest shit he's ever seen. No subtitles. I can't make heads or tails out of them.” He showed me scenes in the office, it was in the middle of the day, and it creeped me out. I took the short films home. Watched 'em and was up all night freaked out, thinking about it. So I gave him a call the next day. And so it became an interesting partnership.
Our original idea was that we were going to make our own feature version of the two short films, and Takashi Shimizu was going to make his own version of the short films. Sort of do them together, but not compare notes to see what the two different interpretations would be.
I thought that was a great idea, but in Japan if they want to do a movie, two months later, they're done with the movie. It's a very different system over there. There's not really a development process, and the money comes from different places.
So we started developing our movie here in the states and people thought we were out of our minds. They just didn't get it. Finally, Roy said why don't we wait until the “Ring” comes out. This was in July 2002 and the “Ring” was coming out in October. Let's let the “Ring” come out because I think people are going to really like it. The “Ring” was huge.
It made more money the second weekend than the first weekend, so everybody wanted to hear the pitch again like everybody we pitched the movie to called us back, and people we hadn't pitched it to wanted to hear it.
It became time, we ended up getting a package from Japan, and it was Shimizu's finished movie. And he's like “I'm done with my movie; here it is; how's your movie going?” So we saw it, and that was his feature “Ju On.” So we said lets just screen this.
At one point I had taken his two shorter films, and I had cut them down to a 20 or 25 minute show reel, and I added my own subtitles just to get people to what the idea was. But now we had this new feature film that was really good, so we said lets just screen this, and the first person who saw it was Sam Raimi. The lights came up and he said “I love it. Let's do it.” And the whole thing was off to the races.
FM.C: When did you write “Red”?
STEPHEN: I wrote Red the exact same time I was writing “Grudge” back in 2003. It was a book that I found and just loved. And chased down the rights. A producer had just bought the rights, and at the same time Lucky McKee was chasing down the rights too so the three of us just sort of teamed up.
I went to school with Lucky; I didn't know him but we went to school at the same time, and I was a fan of his work. So we teamed up on it—I wrote the draft while we were doing the “Grudge,” and he was doing a movie called "The Woods” at United Artists. And it was a five year process of trying to take a really, really small independent film and get it off the ground.
I mean the “Grudge” was originally an independent film too. We were going to do it for 3.4 million and we had all the money, but the studios got interested, and it became a bigger deal. But “Red” stayed very small, so it was a labor of love for everybody. “Grudge” and “Red” were written at the same time, but it took a lot longer for “Red” to come together.
FM.C: Do you generally take on more than one project at a time?
STEPHEN: I generally do. I like to work on multiple projects. Creatively it just kind of keeps me going. I never get stuck on one. You can kind of be working on one thing and then hit a wall, but if I'm working on a bunch of different things, you never really stop writing. I never come to a complete total screeching halt which I think is pretty deadly.
FM.C: Do you still write specs or are you mainly pitching before you write now?
STEPHEN: Well, I've really always done both. I've written a lot of spec scripts, but most of the work I've done has been selling something on a pitch and then being hired to write it. I think I sold my first script a year and a half ago. I was a professional writer for ten years before I outright sold a spec script. I've done mostly setting up pitches, setting up pitch adaptations, getting hired to rewrite.
FM.C: Do you prefer one to the other?
STEPHEN: I don't prefer one or the other, but I kind of need both to survive. Because when you're just writing for other people, sometimes it can go very well, but oftentimes you're in a position where you're not able to do what exactly you want to do. You have to make concessions.
You might be on the room where there are four or five production entities, none of who are in agreement of what the movie's gonna be. And sometimes your job is that of a diplomat. But you have your own point of views, but it gets subsumed and has to take a back seat because you're trying to make everyone else happy.
So each project has it's own sort of complications, so I like balancing that out by writing speculative material because that's my stuff, that's stuff no one's telling me what to do. I write it, and no one's looking over my shoulder.
FM.C: How much of producing is a facet of your everyday life, and how do you balance that with being a writer?
STEPHEN: It takes a lot of face time that you don't necessarily need in the writing side. It's a lot of meetings. A lot of phone calls. So it is a bit of a balancing act when you're trying to do both, and it's a matter of being disciplined with time, or at least in my case, because I'm not exactly the most disciplined person, I've had to kind of drill it into myself.
I'll get up at 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning, so I can get a few hours of writing in before the phone starts to ring and the business calls need to be made.
You know, it's just juggling. And if I'm on a super-deadline with a script, I just lock myself in somewhere, and my producing partner will be the one reachable, and I'll be unreachable.
We have a film now that might be shooting in October, so if everything comes together, it's going to be pretty intense on that side for a while, but you know-- it's balancing act. And it's good for me because projects will live and die on peoples limb.
I've had projects that were greenlit and had stars attached and four weeks out from day one, the movie got shut down for one reason or another. And sometimes you can feel powerless, but a lot of time it has nothing to do with you, whether projects live or die in certain cases. So my tonic to that is to work on a lot of projects and have a lot of balls in the air.
FM.C: How involved are you as a producer once it goes into production?
STEPHEN: Well, it depends on the project. With “Red”, I was the associate producer. It's a subsidiary. A lesser producer capacity in terms of creative control and on that film we had a director who was an auteur, and when he writes and directs something, he has a very specific vision of how he wants to execute the movie, so once that ball kind of got rolling, I was not very involved at all.
I became a lot involved after the first director was fired and the second director came in, and we had to figure out how to make the pieces come back together and finish the film with the money we had.
There's other projects where I'm a full producer- which means more creative control, and if we start shooting, I'll be on the set every day.
It depends on the project and it depends on my availability really.
Producing is a newer thing for me. I've been writing for twelve years now, but only been producing for a couple. So I'm still in the throes of its evolution really.
FM.C: Which do you prefer more-- writing or producing?
STEPHEN: If I could only do one, I'd probably write. If someone said “pick one, that's it.” I'd write, but the thing is, I came out here to make movies, and as a writer you're kind of limited in your ability to make movies.
I had a few movies where it was clear I wasn't needed on the set; at a certain point: “okay well so long; it's not your movie anymore.” And it's not a complaint; it's a lament of people who want to be involved in the birthing of their movies. You hear it a lot from writers. They want to have a little bit more say. A little bit more control. It something I'm pushing more towards.
I wouldn't want to stop producing, but it's a different ball game.
FM.C: For you as a writer, what's the greatest challenge you face in general and in Hollywood?
STEPHEN: Well, I think the greatest challenge in general is being focused enough and disciplined enough to push yourself and keep evolving and never feel like you've reached a point where you are the writer you are going to be. I hope I don't live long enough to be the finished writer.
I think that's one of the intriguing things about writers . . . it's a process where you want it to be in an evolutionary thing -- to always to be learning and growing. So I think that's the greatest challenge to not rest on your laurel and keep striving for that. But at the same time I think that's what makes writing so fun, so enjoyable. Something you want to have as a day-to-day, of part of your life.
In terms of the business, there's a tremendous amount of frustration. Hollywood is sort of the ultimate battleground of art versus commerce, and if you have story that in your gut you feel a compelling need to tell -- it's generally not coming from a place of "I really, really need to tell this story so that I can make millions of dollars." It's "I have to tell a story." You have to sort of line up your interests with the by-and-large.
There are great producers out there, and I'm not saying that it's a universal thing, but Hollywood is a business, and a majority of the people in it are about selling a product not telling good stories. So it can be a very tough landscape to navigate.
One of the lessons I learned early on was be careful who your partner is; be very careful with which producers you're going to work – [have] a careful understanding of who they are and what they're looking to do, because as a screenwriter, the moment you sell something, you lose the copyright on it. You don't own it anymore. It's simply not yours. The first thing you sign says you're no longer the writer or the author of the project. The studio's the author of the project, and they can fire you in a second.
So it can be really brutal and really frustrating and in a way some of its most fundamental components are a complete and total anathema to the creative process. So there's a lot of fallout; it's tough.
But I think the way to get through it is to keep your head down and write and keep pushing and trying not let the great frustrations shake you too much and not let your successes affect you too much either. And just kind of ride out the average and love the actual work because then, if you find success, you don't lose your head; and if you find failure, you don't crumble.
FM.C: How do you go about pitching, and what advice you have for others who are interesting in the “art” of pitching?
STEPHEN: It's absolutely an art. My advice would be to remember that it's got two components, and the first component is the campfire component. Which is everybody in the world has a story, and if you ever go camping and you're sitting around a fire, everybody starts telling stories, so everybody knows how to tell a story and everybody wants to hear a good story.
And a lot of people get really stressed out about pitching, and a lot of people that I work with, that I mentor, I try to advise them to go back to the campfire. Anybody who you're going to sit down with in a room, who spends all day going between phone calls and hearing pitches -- they're all desperate to hear a really good story – on the human side, not just the business side. They'd love hear something that they're like “wow, that was really great!” It was scary; it was exciting; it was original; it was funny; it was sad; it was romantic.
They just want to hear a good story. So don't get lost and overcomplicate it. Just remember what telling a story around the campfire is like.
But on the business side, you have to remember that these people have to walk into their bosses office and re-pitch your story as a vehicle that's going to make them a lot of money, so you need to be able to wear both hats when you're in the room as a story teller but also as someone who understands what they need to hear.
They need to understand who's going to go see the movie; why it's going to be popular; what is the poster, how are they going to sell the movie -- and I think a good pitch is able to combine both those elements. It's a good story well told; plus, an understanding of what the producers are going to have to do with your great story.
And I think that helps clear the road a bit; I've worked with a lot of people who have pitches that are the story of their lives; it something deep and important that happened to them, but they're not thinking of “what is the commercial value,” and they need to think about “do I need to pitch it to certain people? Maybe I need to pitch it to independent producers.”
FM.C: How much does the marketing of a film factor in during your development process?
STEPHEN: It only factors in in the global sense of what else am I working on. When we set up the “Grudge” and I was writing the “Grudge” for Mandate Pictures, they raised all their money. So I knew they were going to be shooting it. At the same time, I was writing “Red” on the side. “Red” is a very, very small movie that doesn't have a tremendous amount of commercial prowess, but it was an astoundingly powerful novel.
If I wasn't working on the “Grudge” at the time, “Red” might have not taken precedence. I had the project that was putting food on the table and that was being developed as a kind of commercial thing which allowed me to work on the passion project.
It's a balance for me of all the projects I'm going to be working on at any given point. There's always going to be a couple that are very, very commercial, and there are a couple that are sort of in the middle, they're great stories that are a little bit different, that are a little bit risky; and then there are always a couple where the commercial validity might be in question, but I think it's a great story that needs to be told.
That's just what works for me. If I just wrote for the marketplace, I don't think I'd be satisfied creatively; but, you know, everybody's got their own balance of what's going to make the process work for them.
At the time you were developing “Red”, did you know the movie was going to be made, or was it something you fought for?
No, we fought for many years. I started the process in 2003 . . . we had no idea it was going to get made. Most of the work I've done, we have no idea if it's going to go.
I mean, I've written forty-three movies, and I've only had three made. Most projects start off from a place of "you-have-no-idea". And if anybody tells you any different, they're probably lying to you because they don't have any idea either.
“Red” we really knew was going to be a difficult process because originally it was about a guy who was in his seventies, and he was in every scene of the movie. And the story is that he gets his dog killed, and he tries to get some kind of justice for it; not revenge, but justice. It's a very small, kinda slow-burn, dramatic thriller.
So Warner Brothers isn't going to buy that and release it on 4,000 screens in the middle of the summer. They're just not going to it -- it's not what interests them; it's not what motivates them.
We knew right off the bat that it's going to be a hard sell for studios, and that it was much more likely going to be a process of finding independent companies or independent financiers, and it was also a question of finding the right lead actor who money people could have confidence in -- that he would be able to carry this whole movie – so it took a long time.
FM.C: Given the inherent challenges in Hollywood, what motivates you to keep writing and producing?
STEPHEN: What motivates me is being very passionate about [writing]. I've always loved writing. So every morning you have to realize that you're a little bit lucky to be paid to do it. I never thought I would, but it's very easy to be motivated by doing something that you love doing despite all the difficulties that surround it and the difficulties that you face everyday and the frustrations that you face everyday.
Film is a great medium. It's not a boring business. I'll give it that. I'm never bored by it.
It'll be an instinctive thing if I ever hit the point where I say “you know what, I'm not enjoying anymore.” And if I ever find that moment, then I'll stop. But I don't expect it to happen, I loved writing from day one, and I love producing too. Directing is on the horizon. I feel like I will enjoy that – I'll find out once I'm on set. The motivation is just that I love doing it.
FM.C: What is this next project you're working on?
STEPHEN: There's a couple. I've created a TV series based on the movie, “Flatliners”. We're trying to get off the ground. I don't know if it's going to happen or not.
My producing partner and I just sold a movie that he's going to be directing and we're going to be producing called “High School.” It's a stoner comedy actually -- a little bit of change of pace. So we're hoping to shoot that in October. We're doing it with Warren Zide, the guy who did American Pie.
There's a couple of other things that are in the ether. There's a couple of graphic novels that I'm attached to that I'm working on .... with Dave Goyer, the director. He's an amazing writer and a great director, so it's kind of cool to take this graphic novel and put the hammer to it. The other producer is Sheldon Turner, who's also a well-known screenwriter, so it's fun to have this project where it's three writers taking on the role of producer, writer, and director. We're going to be pitching it around town.
I'm writing a couple of things on my own, and a couple of things I'm pitching as a director, so there are a lot of irons in the fire.
FM.C: What advice would you give for people who are interested in breaking into the industry?
STEPHEN: I would say “buckle your seatbelt; talk to a lot of people in the business to get an understanding of what the realities are.” And if you're really serious about it you have to commit and dedicated yourself to it. It's not the kind of thing you can do casually if you really believe in it and really believe in yourself. It's something you have to jump in guns blazing and commit. Work very, very hard.
Writing screenplays. There are a lot of people who write one and for five years keep reworking it, reworking it, and reworking it. There's a lot to be said for that kind of believe, but that's not very smart in terms of a business plan because what an agent's going to look for in a writer is someone who writes a lot and has a lot of ideas, not someone who can't get past their first one.
Learn to start wearing both hats as a writer or director or whatever it may be. But also really educate [yourself] in the business, and figure out how to maximize [your] business ability to break in.
FM.C: What would you say are your most memorable moments in the business?
STEPHEN: There's been a lot. From meeting people who I've admired for a long time and working with them. Like Michael Douglas who produced the original “Flatliners” movies, so he's working the series. He's been one of my heroes as an actor and a producer – a legendary producer.
Meeting people that you've admired and learn from that proximity and grow from their influence is really wonderful. I've been lucky to work with really cool producers like Gale Hurd and some great directors like Taylor Hackford, and each one of those experiences is incredibly creatively rewarding, especially because as a writer you spend so much time working alone. And to be able to saddle up to someone you admire as a filmmaker, to be able to learn from that person – everyone of those experiences is just profound and just special.
A highlight definitely the “Grudge” because it's the first movie I had made. It just sort of caught us all by surprise because it was a really small movie. And right before we started casting we got a lot of interest coming in from the studios. It ended up turning into a studio film, but a really small one: 9 million dollars, and no one really expected anything from it.
When it was released we were hoping to make 15 million bucks total. It was definitely a highlight that Friday night. It opened on my birthday weekend, my wife and I threw a birthday party, and we had a lot of people involved in the film there, so our fingers were crossed.
We were kind of waiting for Friday night numbers, and we had goal if we can make 7 or 10 that opening weekend then we would make 15 in the states and that would be great. And I remember 10:30 or 11:00 -- one of the producers leaned into me and said 15, and I said we're going to make 15 this weekend, and he said “no, we've already made 15.” And that was just an incredible moment. It's one of those things that I'll probably never replicate because it was my first film and no one had any expectations about it. Just to kind of have that moment, to have a roomful of people who worked so hard on it for just years, and to suddenly realize that people are responding to it, and it will bring a lot of payback for everyone's work. It was pure elation. I would say that's certainly one of the highlights.
Getting my first check as a writer was definitely a highlight. I never would have thought that I could make a living as a writer. It's important to hold onto those things while you're getting beaten down on a daily basis by other things.
FM.C: What's the greatest lesson you've learned from your career thus far?
STEPHEN: Fight for your vision no matter what because it's a business where everybody's trying to put in their own thumbprints. And everybody's trying to sway you this way or that way, and I've worked with a lot of people who've echoed that sentiment that you have to believe your vision. Because that's what everyone else is looking for. Everybody is looking for the person who “this is what it is, I believe in it, and I will hold fast.”
I've had a lot of directors who have been in positions with producers, and the producer wanted to do something, and the director said, “I have no problem taking the movie in that direction but you're going to have to find another director.” I admire that simplicity of “I know exactly what I want to do, and if you don't want to do it the same then we'll just part ways.” It's not as easy for writers to do, in a lot of cases, but it's very valuable lesson and for me it's been reflected in that I've been able to take certain projects and keep them close to the vest and have certain projects that I won't change and sell to anybody and certain line I won't cross.
That's something I've heard from a lot of people, and I think is really valuable.
FM.C: Thank you.