Quentin tarantino on writing for actors

Quentin Tarantino has developed a reputation for being a renegade filmmaker throughout his remarkable career in directing 9 films and writing 3 screenplays for other directors.  Leonardo DiCaprio, having worked with QT twice on Django Unchained and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, has expressed that working on his films “is like being on a student film set, but with a budget.” He was probably alluding to the fact that a student film set is at a collegiate level, which means it’s organized, but the cast and crew are enjoying themselves on a friendlier basis as opposed to a studio film where everyone is seasoned and works with utmost professionalism because there’s vast sums of money involved.

In an interview with Moviemaker Magazine, “Part of my own thing is telling my own personal story and burying it inside genre.” Tarantino said, referring to the Kill Bill saga for what he was going through romantically in life and his most recent, Hollywood. “Since this is a memory piece, it’s based on my perceptions from when I was six and seven.” Being a native of Los Angeles growing up around Torrance in what’s known as the South Bay, Tarantino paid tribute to how he remembered Hollywood in the 1960s. But, when it came to writing the script, he made sure to focus on the details of his writing, as opposed to imagining what the film would look like once it was directed. “A writer-director who wanted to explore my way of writing characters and scripts would be going a different way than almost anybody else who would teach you how to do it,” Tarantino said. “It’s not that I’m so special. It’s just that you have to invest in the concept of being a writer – not just writing something for yourself to direct. That means you’ve got to commit to the literature of what you’re doing, rather than worry about that finished movie at the end of the road. I don’t mean you have to write this highfalutin, 500-page novel. But in a weird way, you’re writing your script more for you and your actors to read. Then, with you leading the way, your actors will transfer this document into a movie.”

Tarantino emphasizes on the significance of realizing that you’re writing for actors, and how imperative it is to remember that actors will be analyzing the characters objectives based upon the details of each page that’s written. The outcome of the film is completely irrelevant at this point since it would be practically impossible to imagine what the finished film will look like once you’re in the editing room. “The first month back in the editing room would be me just remembering how to do it all.” Tarantino said, referring to the breaks he’d take prior to the post-production phases that include not just film editing but sound mixing and color timing. It is a common saying within the filmmaking community that a movie is made 3 times: when it’s written, when it’s shot, and when it’s edited. Many would argue that the latter is the most important. 

Quentin Tarantino’s long-time collaborator in cinematography is Robert Richardson (Casino, Wag the Dog). While on the set of The Hateful Eight, QT’s 8th film, Tarantino continued in quoting Bob Richardson, “Bob said, ‘I can’t believe that you’re so comfortable doing it this way. I’m so proud of you!’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘You normally like to start a scene and don’t do anything until you finish it, then you move onto the next scene. But now you’re shooting one side for this one scene and not picking it up again for two weeks because it needs snow. You’re not complaining, you’re not bitching about it! You’re just doing the work!’” This goes to show the professional way of making films, which is incredibly difficult and challenging, and the original Tarantino way of making films, which is moving along only when he knows he’s got everything he’s needed. Regardless of which path a director takes, making movies is no easy feat. But, for Quentin Tarantino, writing a screenplay is less about the movie and more about the actors who will bring the movie to life, based on the words written on each page.

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