Cinema's Word Processors

Day 2 at the Edinburgh International Film Festival: where writing is concerned, it's all about one thing, says Anthony Minghella.

by Kotleta

Anthony Minghella during his Reel Life conversation at the EIFF with Shane Danielsen

Anthony Minghella during his Reel Life conversation at the EIFF with Shane Danielsen

Edinburgh International Film Festival, Thursday 19 August, 2005

Today was all about the writing. Oddly enough, everyone has had the exact same thing to say about this. According to Richard E Grant, it's about the process, not the result. Andrea Gibb, writer for Dear Frankie and Afterlife, told me 'most importantly, it's a process'. And in this afternoon's Reel Life interview, Anthony Minghella, writer-director on Cold Mountain, The Talented Mr Ripley, and most recently Breaking and Entering, said 'process is everything'.

I am starting to suspect there is a secret guide to screenwriting somewhere full of these words of wisdom that only the lucky few get hold of. Maybe even published by the Scientologists. I'd like to have asked what exactly they all meant by 'process', as it's quite a vague word, but for fear of looking stupid, I just nodded thoughtfully and looked wise instead.

As the first in this year's series of Reel Life events, I wasn't sure what to expect. Would there be film clips? Would there be dancing? Free drinks? Yes, no, no. Would we all be required to demonstrate our film buff status by asking pertinent and intelligent questions? No again.

The best question of the afternoon was no doubt a nervous sounding member of the audience who asked; "would you never fancy just making a stupid popcorn movie, like shark vs crocodile?" Minghella replied, "That was the party political broadcast for the..." Everybody laughed heartily. If you aren't laughing right now then it's probably because you weren't aware that he directed one of those party political broadcasts and thus are simply too ignorant to get the joke.

Minghella, or Minger as his close personal friends probably don't call him, went on to say that; "If it only took a day, I'd like to make any number of stupid films." Seemingly, making a film is quite a long, painful process (that damn word again) so unless you're going to say something important, it's not really worth the effort.

It was a fascinating interview, full of interesting anecdotes and self-deprecating wit, but not enough scurrilous Hollywood gossip. I want quite badly to go to the Joss Whedon one next week but it sold out ten seconds after tickets went on sale, so if anyone has a spare, fire it this way please. Otherwise I'll have to kidnap his cat and hold it to ransom.

A word of advice to anyone going to see anything in Cineworld screen 7, don't sit in the front row. Once they turn on the air conditioning it's colder than any number of Minghella's mountains. Also, you get a crick in your neck trying to see the screen.

Edinburgh International Film Festival

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