Red Right Hand: TWO THINGS SORKIN CAN'T DO
*He is not a secret agent. Not at all.

 

TWO THINGS SORKIN CAN'T DO

Last night, I had the good fortune to attend a special screening of The Social Network wherein Aaron (Wow, that crappy iPhone shot makes him look seventy) Sorkin would talk about writing the film.

Joining him under the screen was Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer and Justin Timberlake (here, apparently, to avoid the travesty that is that other Justin winning anything at the AMA's across town).

Seeing as there was recently a hubbub about how good actors never stick to the script and just say what they want, here's what the people behind what will surely be an Oscar nominated film, screenplay and cast said last night...in screenplay format.

  • INT. AERO THEATRE - NIGHT
  • TIMBERLAKE, GARFIELD, HAMMER and SORKIN sit in the dimly lit, art deco styled theatre. They speak into handheld microphones. SULLIVAN sits in the third row, memorizing this shit.
  • SORKIN
  • (truthy)
  • As the cast will tell you, I give them complete freedom when it comes to the words. I let them know that the script is a suggestion.
  • Laughter breaks out in the theatre.
  • TIMBERLAKE
  • Funny enough, we were just joking about this before we came out. I was joking about the film that I'm doing right now and how the director is giving some authorship to the actors and Aaron made the joke that he had that process with us, that he just laid the blueprint for our work. Yeah, you laid the blueprint. He looked at all of us and said "you're the color blue, now go print."
  • SORKIN
  • The truth is I really admire writers who write in a style, whether it's Judd Apatow, or in the extreme, Christopher Guest, writers who write in a style that allows more playing around with the language. I don't know how to do that. So instead I write - you have to do the words.

Following on the importance of words, Sorkin talked a little about his style of dialogue, which is most often called "musical" and with good reason.

  • INT. AERO THEATRE - LATER THAT NIGHT
  • As before.
  • SORKIN
  • Realistic isn't quite something that I'm thinking of. There's another word for it and I'm not sure what it is. Like I said* it's the painting versus photograph or in this case, painting versus audio recording. There are other writers that are great at writing incredibly realistic and very gritty dialogue. There are writers like Sam Shepherd or David Mamet, David Milch and a bunch of others that are absolute virtuosos at writing dialogue where people have a lot of difficulty communicating with each other. I really love that. It's not something I am able to do. What I do do is I'm playing all the parts while it's happening. I want it to sound like something. I became a writer because my parents took me to plays, all the time. A lot of times I was too young to understand the play. They took me to see Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? when I was nine-years-old. There's no way I could understand what's going on, but I love the sound of the dialogue. It sounded like music to me and I just wanted to imitate that sound. So to me, what the words sound like is just as important as what they mean.

In an only-in-21st-century-LA moment, I thought I recognized this woman across the aisle as one of my internet acquaintances (i.e. someone I know only via bits, never met in person). Uncertain, I tweeted her and informed her that she was either at this theatre, or her evil twin was. Within seconds, a I had twitformation that it was, in fact, here and we finally met, three years after a mutual friend gave me her email for advice on working in LA.

So check out Liz Rizzo at her blog, Everyday Goddess.
©2016 Michael Patrick Sullivan