Monday, April 26, 2010


The Tribeca Talks: Pen to Paper "Authors at the Helm" event took place this morning. The talk was hosted by Barnes and Noble in Union Square in NYC.  Panelists included Nice Guy Johnny writer/director Edward Burns, Snap writer/director and playwright Carmel Winters, and comedian/novelist/screenwriter David Baddiel.  The author Susan Orlean moderated.

The discussion was about the artist's process of writing, directing one's own work and distributing it in today's world of indies and 3-D blockbusters.  All three of the panelists advised writers in the audience to write with a sense of discipline (every day if possible), to push through when you're stuck on the page (Burns suggested "write a bullshit scene just to keep going and then come back to it later and fix it, just don't stop.") and to write with your movie budget in mind.  Burns noted that for his first film he wrote five scenes to take place in Central Park because he could shoot there without a film permit.  That saved him money on his budget.  He suggested using what you have and locations you can use for free.  

After the talk, the panelists were gracious enough to stick around and give one-on-one advice . Burns was particularly generous with his time -- signing autographs, answering questions and giving tips on what screenwriting books to read (he likes Story by Robert McKee, Save the Cat by Blake Snyder; and books by John Truby).

There was a minor crisis when Burns misplaced his iPhone at the event, but it was quickly found.  (The audio-visual guy had removed it off the stage while cleaning up.)  Imagine if that phone wasn't returned?  Some poser would be speed dialing Christy Turlington or leaving Bob De Niro a text by now.  Burns is a down-to-earth, nice guy from Long Island who hasn't forgotten what it's like to be an artist looking for a break.  His new film Nice Guy Johnny is playing now at the Tribeca Film Festival.

(Photos by Janet Lawler)

Thanks to Ed Burns, the Tribeca Talks series and Barnes & Noble.  Great day.  Here is a clip of Ed giving advice about getting your indie film made. 

Until next time,
Janet J. Lawler

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