By Nathan Wildes
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 06/16/2018 – Writers got the star treatment usually reserved for actors and directors as WGA-West hosted a night at The Roof at Hotel Wilshire on their behalf. Some three dozen writers of this year’s top feature films were in attendance. Many of the honored guests expressed their enjoyment and appreciation for the evening, getting to meet fellow writers like themselves; another rare opportunity. Speaking with many of the attendees, viewpoints on the future of the industry, career paths, and the craft of writing were shared with THT.
Jim Kehoe, of the brothers-writing-team with Brian Kehoe, talked about the shared writing duties that he and Brian worked out together while writing Blockers. “Basically we came up with the idea of ‘I’ll write this scene, you write the next scene.’ Then we sort of compile everything together into one master document and just keep going”, Jim explained. The 40-year-old husband and father, with his fair share of small writing credits, is enjoying his first foray into the big time. Blockers, starring Leslie Mann, John Cena and many more, has already netted $60M since releasing in early April. With Jim’s brother Brian joining him, the team already has 3 projects in the pipeline after their first big success.
Another team of co-writers were the headliners of the night, namely Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely of Marvel fame. With Avengers: Infinity War as their fifth feature with Marvel, and a sixth already completed but yet to release, their position atop the industry is well-secured. McFeely shared the rare privileges that he and Markus enjoy as a result.
“When you get us (writers) a couple of drinks you’ll hear us talk about how we’re disposable. Marvel doesn’t do that. We feel very taken care of because when the know it’s going well and our working your ass off, they appreciate it.”
McFeely also shared a similar story that Jim Kehoe told about the collaborative writing process between Chris Markus and himself. “Our process is we outline the story together…But once we have an outline, we’ll split that up. So we get that sort of privileged time, you know, where we can be in our underwear and write by yourself, and I value that a lot. But then that third part is when we come back together with those pages. Then we rewrite that script as if somebody else wrote it.”
Another revelation that came out is the growing trend of going the Netflix route to produce and release movies streaming into people’s homes rather than in theaters. Anders Bard, co-producer of comedy hits such as Along Came Polly and I Love You Man, talked about his upcoming release of Like Father on August 3rd starring Kristen Bell, Seth Rogen and Kelsey Grammer. He explained some of the benefits the Netflix method. For me personally I’d rather have it come it out in 190 countries in people’s homes rather than come out in the theaters and no goes to the theater to see it.” Brooks McLaren is releasing his first ever feature script to be turned into a movie called How It Ends in mid-July. The thriller, starring Theo James and Forest Whitaker, also is releasing through Netflix. “There are lots of examples of smaller movies that aren’t available to stream day-and-date, and they’re missing out on a lot of their audience”, Brooks explains. Anders Bard also discussed the freedom Netflix gives you during production. “They allow you to make your movie. No interference, no telling you what actors you need to cast…”
Finally, for many writers, like Brooks McLaren the current feature that is releasing this year (or already has) is the first of their careers. Many of them shared the many years of struggle they went through to get to this point. Rising star Elissa Matsueda began her career with Spare Parts a high-school-drama with a respectable budget that didn’t really go anywhere in the theaters. Now as she celebrates 10 years in LA trying to make a career as a writer, she has hit it big with two features (The Miracle Season & Dog Days) releasing in 2018. The Kehoe brothers and fellow attendee Rob McKittrick, screenwriter of Tag releasing this weekend met and became friend way back in 2002 having both moved to LA less than a year before.
If the night’s attendance list, which included the surprise appearance of actress Allison Williams (Get Out), is any indication, WGA has a new perk to offer the many great writers out there. This all-too-hidden group of people, that are the original source of the movies we go to the theater to see, shined as they partied among their peers. No doubt, many of these people can and will become household names in industry circles over the next few years. Here’s hoping that such events allow these talented folks to become household names to the movie-going public as well.