University of southern California
Barry Blaustein, ScreenWriter, Documentary maker, parent
USC brings in one of Saturday Night Lives best Comedy writers. He’s also well known for he’s blockbuster comedy movies and not so well known for he’s endeavour as a documentary maker. Below is a series of notes from the podcast as an insight into Barry’s illustrious film making career.
Which movies do you like?
“Any movie that moves me emotionally, and stays with you the next day…. Most films these days the lights come up and you just work where you are going to eat….One of my favourite – Chronicas – true story about journalists.”
As an NYU student Barry majored in journalism. Originally he was hinking og going into politics… To change the way people think.
But he ventured off that path into screenwriting. Obviously a good move as he had a teacher who said” I don’t normally say this about students, but you are not going to need anything to fall back on”
Barry worked on whatever jobs he could get, but he just kept writing and writing and writing sketches.He eventually got he’s break and moved to New York and started writing for Eddie Murphy.
“You never know where your break is from. It’s talent and luck but you need both and jump at takeing advantage…. And you need to make your own breaks”
Barry wrote for Eddie Murphey on Saturday Night Live and he’s blockbuster hits suh as the Nutty Professor “Eddie is fearless – he has full confidence in his ability to take the audience. He never failed because of he’s performance only if the material wasn’t good.”
Barry’s resume includes some of our classic 80s films including “Coming to America, Police Academy and pretty much just about every major Edie Murphey movie”
As you go along – you keep moving your lines of standards … “Don’t forget why you entered into the business….always fight to keep the reason why you are in this business, they will try to beat it out of you but hold onto your passion.”
Barry followed he’s passion at night and weekends and made he’s documentary, and finally got to move off the kiddies table to the adults table. ‘Beyond the matt’ is about wrestling but it’s really about the father – son relationship.
The process was extensive for Barry to get the project going.
He spent a couple of years researching to build up trust, he worked he’s contacts to get the funding, and leverage to get what he wanted. The couple of years research was about finding the story that he wanted to tell…” (as a documentor) be totally open to what happens and follow it through.”
Going in seeing what happens mostly brings up nothing.
Go in with an idea but open to see what happens is the key. There’s three major phases in the entire production from what you thought you’d make, what get captures and then when you edit you remake the movie again.
… You’ve got to be ruthless!!!!
While Beyond The Matt was a critically acclaimed documentary, Barry was still referred to as a comic writer, and relishes the creative freedom he had in makeing he’s doco.
..Everything is still a learning experience, you get better just doing it, just making mistakes.
Where did you learn your screenwriting?
Trial & Error and my first is probably really bad.
“if jokes stand in the way of character development then it’s got to go… Unless it’s a great joke””
… Walking with a writing partner…having a long first draft is fine because it gives us more to cut 🙂
How do you know what to let go off ?
Working on characters to make them more poignat, follow where the character wants to go.
Recommended reading…. William Goldberg – adventures in the big screen business
“try to be the best version of yourself, of your own unique voice” you’ll do stuff that will pay the rent. And try to write something that you think will make a difference. Don’t make a movie that you don’t want to see because is soul crushing and grinding.
Be honest about your work and what you enjoy.
Proudest moment. Documentary
Biggest lesson. “I’ve made mistakes and learnt on every film”