Writing doesn’t have to be a solitary artform; working with a creative partner can be beneficial because of the different perspectives and voices two brains bring to the table. Some of our favorite media was created thanks to writing duos. Just imagine a world without Stranger Things, No Country for Old Men, or The Matrix: we don’t even want to think about it! Plus, it’s always great to bounce ideas off someone whose opinion you really trust!
Check out these quotes from five of our favorite writing duos, and former AFF panelists, to learn the secrets of crafting a healthy creative partnership!
2018’s Austin Film Festival had Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber discussed their unconventional, no-contact writing process and how creating a detailed outline keeps them on track with both their shared project and each other’s progress.
Michael: “The nice thing about having such detailed outlines is we can divide up small batches of scenes. ‘You take one, two, three, I take four, five, six,’ and in a day or two, we’re emailing each other our scenes, and it sort of gets streamlined that way. That’s been our process from the start and it still is now. As long as we have wi-fi, we can do this anywhere.”
– Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (co-writers The Disaster Artists, (500) Days of Summer, The Spectacular Now, The Fault in Our Stars) at AFF 2018
2. The Importance Of Respect And Changing Your Point Of View
During our 2018 Conference, Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa spoke about how important respect is within a writing partnership, especially since the two have been a husband and wife duo for many years. They emphasized how respect was intensely important and how it refines your point of view together.
Amanda: “Even if you’re very sure about your point of view and you respect your partner and you’ve worked with him, you’ve put down so much track that you say, ‘Wait a minute, maybe the way I’ve been seeing it is wrong.’”
Rick: “It also helps to articulate your point of view. I find that it’s weird, you know, because we’ve been together a long time, and yet we’re still getting better at articulating our point of view on a specific idea or scene or character, and that really helps one movie to start getting made…and you really get good at interpreting or communicating what your point of view is.”
– Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (writers/producers The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes; writers The Relic, Eye For an Eye) at AFF 2018
When the Game of Thrones showrunners and AFF’s 2019 Outstanding Television Writer Awardees, D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, joined us, they spoke about their journey as writing partners and how reading and rewriting each other’s work was something that always allowed them to work more cohesively as partners.
David: “I know a lot of writing partners work together in the same room. We tried that for the first- for the pilot, and I think, like, over the course of six hours, we wrote, like, maybe a line, and, yeah, it was really slow. We changed it where one of us would take the first half and the other would take the second half… We’d finish our halves and swap them, and Dan would rewrite what I had done, I would rewrite what he had done.”
– David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (2019 Recipients of the Outstanding Television Writer Award) at AFF 2019
In 2015, husband-and-wife writing duo and Daredevil staff writers, Christos and Ruth Fletcher Gage, taught us the secret to keeping a healthy marriage without sacrificing a good script.
“I learned that I had to talk to him, in a lot of ways, as a writing partner, the way I try to talk to him when we’re in a relationship. Of course, everybody does hurtful things to each other every now and then, but because you love someone, you try to say something to them in a nice way, and I had to give notes about things that I didn’t like and, not the way I would give them to myself.”
– Christos and Ruth Fletcher Gage (writers Daredevil, Law & Order: SVU) at AFF 2015
In 2018, Chapman and Maclain Way talked about their experience coming together as a family and making documentaries, and how their differing paths and interests made for a perfect match as creative partners.
Chapman: “I came from the indie, DIY kind of music world, you know, where we built our own bedroom studio and recorded our own music and played local shows and around that time, I was curious if that same kind of ethos could be applied to independent documentary filmmaking…Mac could use his education and nonfiction storytelling and then me with more of a film background, if we could kind of partner up and do something…and so we kind of just set out to make it.”
– Maclain and Chapman Way (directors Wild Wild Country, Battered Bastards of Baseball, New Yorker Present: The Silver Thief) at AFF 2018
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