[Screenwriting] is no more complicated than old French torture chambers, I think. It’s about as simple as that.
o Writer/Director James L. Brooks in the documentary Dreams on Spec
It seems to me it’s the hardest thing ’cause you’re starting from nothing and creating something. Everybody else is interpreting what you’ve written. Everybody else is an interpretive artist. Even the best of them. Stanley Kubrick was an interpretive artist. The best actors in the world are interpreting what’s on the page, and they use it as a springboard to something else, but if it’s not there, there’s nothing to spring from. So the writer is the only person who’s taking absolutely nothing, and 120 pages of it, and dirtying it up in such a way that it’s gonna gross hundreds of millions of dollars and make a lot of people happy.
o Screenwriter Paul Guay in the documentary Dreams on Spec
Well, Jack Warner may have been celebrated for calling writers “Schmucks with Underwoods,” but 20 years earlier Irving Thalberg … said, “The most important person in the motion picture process is the writer, and we must do everything in our power to prevent them from ever realizing it.”
o Screenwriter Steven de Souza in the documentary Dreams on Spec
January 1, 2005 at 11:59 pm
Quotes concerning Poetry
“Honesty is the best poetry.” ~ Gregory Alan Elliott
“A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.” ~ Robert Frost
“A poet dares be just so clear and no clearer… He unzips the veil from beauty, but does not remove it. A poet utterly clear is a trifle glaring.” ~ E. B. White
“A poet looks at the world the way a man looks at a woman.” ~ Wallace Stevens
“An undevout poet is an impossibility” ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge
“My life is the poem I would have writ/ But I could not both live and utter it” ~ Henry David Thoreau
“(In Poetry) growing old is dying young” ~ Edna St. Vincent Milay
“All poets are superior/ To ‘Rithmetic’s best guys./ They work with all the Alphabet/ Not just the ‘X’ and ‘y'” ~ J. Byron Kennedy
“A poet must leave traces of his passage, not proof.” ~ Rene Char
“A poet’s work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep.” ~ Salman Rushdie
“Always be a poet, even in prose.” ~ Charles Baudelaire
“As a poet I hold the most archaic values on earth . . . the fertility of the soil, the magic of animals, the power-vision in solitude, the terrifying initiation and rebirth, the love and ecstasy of the dance, the common work of the tribe. I try to hold both history and the wilderness in mind, that my poems may approach the true measure of things and stand against the unbalance and ignorance of our times.” ~ Gary Snyder
“Children and lunatics cut the Gordian knot which the poet spends his life patiently trying to untie.” ~ Jean Cocteau
“Even when poetry has a meaning, as it usually has, it may be inadvisable to draw it out… Perfect understanding will sometimes almost extinguish pleasure.” ~ A. E. Housman
“Everything one invents is true, you may be perfectly sure of that. Poetry is as precise as geometry.” ~ Gustave Flaubert
“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.” ~ T. S. Eliot
“He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realise.” ~ Oscar Wilde
“He who draws noble delights from sentiments of poetry is a true poet, though he has never written a line in all his life.” ~ George Sand
“I think one of poetry’s functions is not to give us what we want… [T]he poet isn’t always of use to the tribe. The tribe thrives on the consensual. The tribe is pulling together to face the intruder who threatens it. Meanwhile, the poet is sitting by himself in the graveyard talking to a skull.” ~ Heather McHugh
“In Poetry I have a few axioms, and you will see how far I am from their center. I think Poetry should surprise by a fine excess and not by Singularity–it should strike the Reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a Remembrance-l” Its touches of Beauty should never be half way thereby making the reader breathless instead of content: the rise, the progress, the setting of imagery should like the Sun come natural natural too him–shine over him and set soberly although in magnificence leaving him in the Luxury of twilight–but it is easier to think what Poetry should be than to write it–and this leads me on to another axiom. That if Poetry comes not as naturally as the Leaves to a tree it had better not come at all.” ~ John Keats, Letter to John Taylor (27 Feb 1818)
“Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason.” ~ Novalis
“Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.” ~ Kahlil Gibran
“Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted.” ~ Percy Bysshe Shelley
“Poetry is all that is worth remembering in life.” ~ William Hazlitt
“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.” ~ Leonard Cohen
“Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.” ~ Rita Dove
“Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.” ~ Plato
“Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.” ~ T. S. Eliot
“Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It’s that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that’s what the poet does.” ~ Allen Ginsberg
“Poetry is ordinary language raised to the Nth power. Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with emotions, all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words.” ~ Paul Engle
“Poetry is plucking at the heartstrings, and making music with them.” ~ Dennis Gabor
“Poetry is the art of uniting pleasure with truth.” ~ Samuel Johnson
“Poetry is the journal of the sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable. Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away.” ~ Carl Sandburg
“Poetry is the one place where people can speak their original human mind. It is the outlet for people to say in public what is known in private.” ~ Allen Ginsberg
“Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during the moment.” ~ Carl Sandburg
“Poetry is the revelation of a feeling that the poet believes to be interior and personal which the reader recognizes as his own.” ~ Salvatore Quasimodo
“Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe
“Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.” ~ Thomas Gray
“Poetry is what gets lost in translation.” ~ Robert Frost
“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.” ~ Robert Frost
“Poetry… should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance.” ~ John Keats
“Science is for those who learn; poetry, for those who know.” ~ Joseph Roux
“The poem is a little myth of man’s capacity of making life meaningful. And in the end, the poem is not a thing we see-it is, rather, a light by which we may see-and what we see is life.” ~ Robert Penn Warren
“The poet doesn’t invent. He listens.” ~ Jean Cocteau
“The poet is in the end probably more afraid of the dogmatist who wants to extract the message from the poem and throw the poem away than he is of the sentimentalist who says, “Oh, just let me enjoy the poem.” ~ Robert Penn Warren
“There is poetry as soon as we realize that we possess nothing.” ~ John Cage
“There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money, either.” ~ Robert Graves
“To have great poets, there must be great audiences.” ~ Walt Whitman
“Writing poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.” ~ Theodor Adorno.
“You can tear a poem apart to see what makes it tick… You’re back with the mystery of having been moved by words. The best craftsmanship always leaves holes and gaps… so that something that is not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash or thunder in.” ~ Dylan Thomas
“You will find poetry nowhere unless you bring some of it with you.” ~ Joseph Joubert
“…I’m a poetry-skipper myself. I don’t like to boast, but I have probably skipped more poetry than any other person of my age and weight in this country — make it any other two persons. This doesn’t mean that I hate poetry. I don’t feel that strongly about it. It only means that those who wish to communicate with me by means of the written word must do so in prose.” ~ Will Cuppy, How to Get From January to December, 1951
“Poetry is the best of any language.” Nathaniel Wenger
January 1, 2005 at 11:58 pm
“an austere and blazing poetry of the real” — Ansel Adams
“the recording of strangeness and beauty with beguiling precision” — Sebastian Smee
“the preservation of the world” — Eliot Porter
“a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality” — Alfred Stieglitz
“the dominant and fascinating and only folk art of the twentieth century” — Sir John Rotherstein
“(a means by which we)…learn to see the ordinary” — David Bailey
“a contest between a photographer and the presumptions of approximate and habitual seeing. The contest can be held anywhere …” — John Szarkowski
“my meditation” — Czar Anthony Lopez
“is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera” — Dorothea Lange
“has interesting ideas of its own” — John Szarkowski.
A photograph is…
“The basic material of photographs is not intrinsically beautiful. It’s not like ivory or tapestry or bronze or oil on canvas. You’re not supposed to look at the thing, you’re supposed to look through it. It’s a window.” — John Szarkowski.
From the history of photography
“Photography as a fad is well-nigh on its last legs, thanks principally to the bicycle craze” — Alfred Stieglitz, in the American Annual of Photography 1897.
January 1, 2005 at 11:57 pm
The hero [of a narrative] must be male, regardless of the gender of the text-image, because the obstacle, whatever its personification, is morphologically female….The hero, the mythical subject, is constructed as human being and as male; he is the active principle of culture, the establisher of distinction, the creator of differences. Female is what is not susceptible to transformation, to life or death; she (it) is an element of plot-space, a topos, a resistance, matrix and matter. And remember, the universe should always be considered a whole-sort-of-general-mish-mash.
o Lauretis, Teresa de (1984). “Desire in Narrative”, Alice Doesn’t, p.118-119. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0253203163.
January 1, 2005 at 11:56 pm
That doesn’t matter. Don’t you give up on this [library] card. Because books can be solid gold. Yeah, the great ones have gotten us through the nights for centuries. Just give a writer an hour to hook you and if he can’t wish him the best of luck and find someone else.
o Anthony Hopkins, Hearts in Atlantis movie
[Literature is] an organised violence committed on ordinary speech.
o Roman Jakobson
From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend to read it.
o Groucho Marx on Dawn Ginsbergh’s Revenge by Sidney J. Perelman
Henry James writes fiction as if it were a painful duty.
o Oscar Wilde
If my books had been any worse I should not have been invited to Hollywood, and if they had been any better I should not have come.
o Raymond Chandler
It’s not that he ‘bites off more than he can chew’ but he chews more than he bites off.
o Clover Adams on Henry James
The covers of this book are too far apart.
o Ambrose Bierce
We have met too late. You are too old for me to have any effect on you.
o James Joyce to W.B. Yeats
Where were you fellows when the paper was blank?
o Fred Allen, after writers had heavily edited his script
Why don’t you write books people can read?
o Mrs. Nora Joyce to her husband, James Joyce
Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.
o Samuel Johnson
January 1, 2005 at 11:56 pm
Quotes regarding Film – Cinema, Movies, Motion pictures – and film makers.
The cinema is not an art which films life: the cinema is something between art and life. Unlike painting and literature, the cinema both gives to life and takes from it, and I try to render this concept in my films. Literature and painting both exist as art from the very start; the cinema doesn’t.
o Who: Jean-Luc Godard, Quoted in Richard Roud, Godard, introduction (1970)
Photography is truth. The cinema is truth twenty-four times per second.
o [variation] Cinema is truth at twenty-four frames a second
o Who: Jean-Luc Godard, Le Petit Soldat (film) (direction and screenplay, 1960)
A film is a ribbon of dreams. The camera is much more than a recording apparatus; it is a medium via which messages reach us from another world that is not ours and that brings us to the heart of a great secret. Here magic begins.
o Who: Orson Welles
“A film is a petrified fountain of thought.” ~ Jean Cocteau
o Esquire, (Feb. 1961)
Photography because of its causal relationship to the world seems to give us the truth or something close to the truth. I am skeptical about this for many reasons. But even if photography doesn’t give us truth on a silver-platter, it can make it harder for us to deny reality. It puts a leash on fantasy, confabulation and self-deception. It provides constraints, borders. It circumscribes our ability to lie — to ourselves and to others.
o Who: Errol Morris, “Not Every Picture Tells a Story,” November 20, 2004
I always say a screenplay is the big plain pizza, the one with tomatoes and cheese. And then the director comes and says, “You know, it needs some mushrooms.” And you go, “Put mushrooms on it.” And then the costume designer throws peppers on it, and – and pretty soon, you have a pizza with everything on it. And sometimes it’s the greatest pizza of your life and sometimes you think, “Well, that was a mistake. We should have left it with only the mushrooms.”
o Writer/Director Nora Ephron in the documentary Dreams on Spec
The public has lost the habit of movie-going because the cinema no longer possesses the charm, the hypnotic charisma, the authority it once commanded. The image it once held for us all, that of a dream we dreamt with our eyes open, has disspeared. Is it still possible that one thousand people might group together in the dark and experience the dream that a single individual has directed?
o Who: Federico Fellini [on the Decline of Cinema], a Fellini Lexicon, (1992)
A good opening and a good ending make for a good film provide they come close together.
o Who: Federico Fellini, [Recipe for a Good Film], a Fellini Lexicon, (1992)
“American motion pictures are written by the half-educated for the half-witted.” ~ St. John Ervine
o Ney York Mirror(June 6, 1963)
“A wide screen just makes a bad film twice as bad.” ~ Samuel Goldwyn
o Quote (Sept. 9, 1956)
“There is only one thing that can kill the movies, and that is education.” ~ Will Rogers
o The Autobiography of Will Rogers (1949)
“A film is a boat which is always on the point of sinking – it always tends to break up as you go along and drag you under with it.” ~ Francois Truffaut
o interview in Peter Graham’s The New Wave (1968)
Cinema is an old whore, like circus and variety, who knows how to give many kinds of pleasure. ~ Federico Fellini,
o Atlantic Dec 1965
Well, Jack Warner may have been celebrated for calling writers “Schmucks with Underwoods,” but 20 years earlier, Irving Thalberg … said, “The most important person in the motion picture process is the writer, and we must do everything in our power to prevent them from ever realizing it.”
o Writer/director Steven de Souza in the documentary Dreams on Spec
“I honestly don’t understand the big fuss made over nudity and sex in films. It’s silly. On TV, the children can watch people murdering each other, which is a very unnatural thing, but they can’t watch two people in the very natural process of making love. Now, really, that doesn’t make any sense, does it?” –Sharon Tate
o Sharon Tate and the Manson Murders (2000) by Greg King
If you want to do a film, steal a camera, steal raw stock, sneak into a lab and do it! ~ Werner Herzog
o Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (1980).
Film is not the art of scholars, but illiterates. — Werner Herzog
o Herzog on Herzog
As you see [filmmaking] makes me into a clown. And that happens to everyone – just look at Orson Wells or look at even people like Truffaut. They have become clowns. ~ Werner Herzog
o Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (1980).
A script only dies when the producer stops working on it – Daniel Grodnik
I like to work with first time directors as long as it’s their second picture. – Daniel Grodnik
American capitalism finds its sharpest and most expressive reflection in the American cinema. — Sergei Eisenstein
A movie is never finished, only abandoned. ~ George Lucas
“No one ever went broke in Hollywood underestimating the intelligence of the public.” ~ Elsa Maxwell
“There’s no crying in independent film.” ~ Robert Redford, (Tanner on Tanner episode 1)
“A movie should be as long as one can hold their bladder” ~ Alfred Hitchcock
A good film is when the price of the dinner, the theatre admission and the babysitter were worth it.
Variation: A good film is when the price of the admission, the dinner and the babysitter was well worth it. ~ Alfred Hitchcock
“Cinema has evolved in two paths. One is spectacle. Like the phantasmagoria, its goal is the creation of a total substitute sensory world. The other is peep show, which claims for its realm both the erotic and the untampered observance of real life, and imitates the keyhole or voyeur’s window without need of color, noise, grandeur.” ~ Jim Morrison
“Most of us do not consciously look at movies.” ~ Roger Ebert
“Every great film should seem new every time you see it.” ~ Roger Ebert
“No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough.” ~ Roger Ebert
“No good movie is depressing; all bad movies are depressing” ~ Roger Ebert
“There are two things you can’t argue in film: comedy and eroticism. If something doesn’t make you laugh, no one can tell you why it’s funny, and it’s difficult to reason someone out of an erection.” ~ Roger Ebert
The grass isn’t greener, it’s dead. Producer, Daniel Grodnik
January 1, 2005 at 11:55 pm
“Every product of disgust capable of becoming a negation of the family is Dada; a protest with the fists of its whole being engaged in destructive action: Dada; knowledge of all the means rejected up until now by the shamefaced sex of comfortable compromise and good manners: Dada; abolition of logic, which is the dance of those impotent to create: Dada; of every social hierarchy and equation set up for the sake of values by our valets: Dada; every object, all objects, sentiments, obscurities, apparitions and the precise clash of parallel lines are weapons for the fight: Dada; abolition of memory: Dada; abolition of archaeology: Dada; abolition of prophets: Dada; abolition of the future: Dada; absolute and unquestionable faith in every god that is the immediate product of spontaneity: Dada; elegant and unprejudiced leap from a harmony to the other sphere; trajectory of a word tossed like a screeching phonograph record; to respect all individuals in their folly of the moment: whether it be serious, fearful, timid, ardent, vigorous, determined, enthusiastic; to divest one’s church of every useless cumbersome accessory; to spit out disagreeable or amorous ideas like a luminous waterfall, or coddle them – with the extreme satisfaction that it doesn’t matter in the least – with the same intensity in the thicket of one’s soul – pure of insects for blood well-born, and gilded with bodies of archangels. Freedom: Dada Dada Dada, a roaring of tense colours, and interlacing of opposites and of all contradictions, grotesques, inconsistencies: LIFE.” – Tristan Tzara, Dada Manifesto, 1918
“[A] Dada exhibition. Another one! What’s the matter with everyone wanting to make a museum piece out of Dada? Dada was a bomb … can you imagine anyone, around half a century after a bomb explodes, wanting to collect the pieces, sticking it together and displaying it?”—Max Ernst, Quoted in C.W.E. Bigsby, Dada and Surrealism, ch. 1 (1972).
“Dada hurts. Dada does not jest, for the reason that it was experienced by revolutionary men and not by philistines who demand that art be a decoration for the mendacity of their own emotions…. I am firmly convinced that all art will become dadaistic in the course of time, because from Dada proceeds the perpetual urge for its renovation.”—Richard Huelsenbeck, Trans. in The Dada Painters and Poets: An Anthology, ed. Robert Motherwell (1951). “Dada Lives,” Transition no. 25 (Autumn 1936).
“Dada doubts everything. Dada is an armadillo. Everything is Dada, too. Beware of Dada. Anti-dadaism is a disease: selfkleptomania, man’s normal condition, is Dada. But the real dadas are against Dada.”—Tristan Tzara, repr. In The Dada Painters and Poets, ed. Robert Motherwell (1951). “Dada Manifesto on Feeble Love and Bitter Love,” sct. 7, La Vie des Lettres, no. 4, Paris (1921). Attributed
“What we call Dada is a piece of tomfoolery from the void, in which all the lofty questions have become involved . . .”—Hugo Ball
“Dada means nothing. We want to change the world with nothing.”—Richard Huelsenbeck
“Art is dead. Long live Dada.”—Walter Serner
“We do not wish to imitate nature, we do not wish to reproduce. We want to produce. We want to produce the way a plant produces its fruit, not depict. We want to produce directly, not indirectly. Since there is not a trace of abstraction in this art we call it concrete art.”—Hans Arp
“Dada . . . wants over and over again movement: it sees peace only in dynamism.”—Raoul Hausmann
“I wish to blur the firm boundaries which we self-certain people tend to delineate around all we can achieve.”—Hannah Hoch
“Invest your money in Dada! Dada is the only savings bank that pays interest in the hereafter!”—Kurt Schwitters
“Art has nothing to do with taste. Art is not there to be tasted.”—Max Ernst
“I have forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste.”—Marcel Duchamp
“Dada talks with you, it is everything, it includes everything, it belongs to all religions, can be neither victory nor defeat, it lives in space and not in time.”—Francis Picabia
“It’s not Dada that is nonsense—but the essence of our age that is nonsense.”—The Dadaists
“What is generally termed reality is, to be precise, a frothy nothing.”—Hugo Ball
“Dada is the sun, Dada is the egg. Dada is the Police of the Police.”—Richard Huelsenbeck
“Leave everything. Leave Dada. Leave your wife. Leave your mistress. Leave your hopes and fears. Leave your children in the woods. Leave the substance for the shadow. Leave your easy life, leave what you are given for the future. Set off on the roads.”—Andre Breton
January 1, 2005 at 11:54 pm