Monday, April 18, 2011

Q&A with screenwriter/producer Angelo Pizzo
Screenwriter Angelo Pizzo
by Janet Lawler 

"Sometimes a winner is a dreamer that just won't quit," from the movie trailer Rudy.
Angelo Pizzo is an accomplished screenwriter and producer.  He penned Hoosiers and Rudy. Both films usually make the Top 10 Best Sports Movies of All-Time lists.  The NY Screenwriting Life asked Pizzo about his writing ritual and working with actors Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper.

Hi, Angelo, what is your writing process like on an average day?

Pizzo:  Every day is different, I tend to write in flurries with a lot of time where I anguish about what I'm going to write. the last third of a script I tend to write quickly so there is a momentum (and because a producer is ready to send out a hit team because I'm so late).

You've worked with director David Anspaugh on two movies, Hoosiers and Rudy, how did that relationship come about?

Pizzo:  David and I were good friends and roommates in college.

Your IMDB credits say you were a Second Unit Director on both hit movies mentioned above, would you like to direct a movie?

Pizzo:  I have been attached to many of my scripts as a director, unfortunately have yet to get one greenlit.

A screenwriter needs the human spirit and determination of Rudy to keep believing in themselves after facing rejection, how did you overcome early setbacks in your writing career?

Pizzo:. I was fortunate to get a job in development almost by accident and moved up the ranks as an executive fairly easily. I wrote my first script when I was 33 and it was Hoosiers. We got a lot of rejections over a three year period, but I knew that was part of the process. I learned never to take rejection personally in my prior years as an executive. I observed how it ate up and turned writers, directors, actors and producers bitter and disenchanted. Another truth is it takes a minor miracle for any movie to get made. So many, many factors go into it, most out of one person's control.

Besides your own movies, what sports drama is your favorite?

Pizzo:  Raging Bull, Field of Dreams 

What's it like to be at a table reading with Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper on Hoosiers?

Gene Hackman in Hoosiers
Pizzo:  Dennis was shooting Blue Velvet during our table read. Gene said hardly a word, he saved his comments for me the day before we shot the scenes. He wanted to be fresh and immediate with his takes.

How do prefer to watch movies? DVD, theater or online? 

Pizzo:  I love watching movies in the theater, accept the DVD home experience and refuse to watch anything online.

What's the best advice you can give to a screenwriter trying to make it today in the movie business?

Pizzo:  Write, every day. Don't talk about it, worry about it, complain about it. Do it. Passion, vision, commitment count for a lot. Don't do it because you think there is good money or glamor, or fun or hipness. Write the movie you want to see not what you think other people want to see. And always write from the inside out rather than the outside in.

Thanks, Angelo, for being a good sport and for writing movies that inspire us to keep reaching for our dreams.   

Below are the trailer links for Hoosiers and Rudy.  Rent them (along with The Game of Their Lives) and have yourself an Angelo Pizzo movie marathon.

Until next time. 

Rudy Trailer
Hoosiers Trailer


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