When Chris McQuarrie attended the Festival in 2006 (and, yes, that was the same year as the most amazing panel in the history of panels: Shane Black, David Milch, and Sydney Pollack at the Paramount Theatre discussing the process of creating complex and memorable characters), his Meet and Greet was packed and we all sat on the floor, squeezed together, enthralled by his stories about researching, writing, working with Bryan Singer, and the perils and pleasures of the film business. Chris was funny, forthright, and inspiring, and when he finally begged off almost 3 hours later, it felt like we’d been in the room for only 20 minutes.
I am thrilled that he will be returning to Austin and joining us for the Conference this year and plan to beg, plead, and badger him into resuming work on The Stanford Prison Experiment a fascinating, terrifying and timely psychological project (official website for the Experiment is www.prisonexp.org) that needs to be brought to the big screen.
AFF: Where do things stand with the Stanford Prison Project?
Chris McQuarrie: After an unexpected two year detour producing “Valkyrie,” I am weighing several options – one of which is The Stanford Prison Experiment. Status: pending.
AFF: What are you currently working on?
CM: Call me superstitious, but these days I only list projects in production. Right now, I’m not in production.
AFF: What is the best advice you ever received as a screenwriter?
CM: “Write a good script and you will be delivered.” It was both the best and worst advice. Ever.
AFF: Briefly describe your writing process.
CM: (procrastination + debt) ÷ (ambition x self doubt)
AFF: What are some of your favorite screenplays?
CM: “Deliverance”, “The Verdict”, “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre”, “The Taking of Pelham 123”, “Die Hard”, “Electraglide in Blue”, “Lone Star”, “The Big Country”, “The Lives of Others.”
AFF: Is there a movie you wish you’d written?
CM: I wish I could write Michael Bay movies.
Christopher McQuarrie is a writer/director/producer whose credits include The Usual Suspects, The Way of the Gun and Valkyrie. Current projects include Champions and The Monster of Florence.