Screenwriters Michael Weber and Scott Neustadter describe their creative process and the decisions that went into writing their Oscar-nominated comedy, The Disaster Artist.
How do you write an Oscar-worthy movie? What’s the secret, the key, the magic formula? Screenwriters Michael Weber and Scott Neustadter don’t claim to know but they must be doing something right—the script for their latest movie, The Disaster Artist, has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. It’s already received many other nominations and won other awards, but an Oscar? That’s the brass ring, as big as it gets. So how did they do it?
Michael and Scott have worked long and hard to reach this point. Their produced credits include 500 Days of Summer, The Spectacular Now, Pink Panther II, The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns, and Our Souls at Night. They’re now in the enviable position of having producers and executives seek them out for projects—just as actor-producers James Franco and Seth Rogen did when searching for the perfect talent to write The Disaster Artist.
If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s a funny film about the making of a very bad film, The Room, a real-life cult classic that many deem “the best worst movie ever.” The Room premiered in 2003, playing on just two screens for two weeks—and that’s only because its passionate producer rented out the theaters. That producer is Tommy Wiseau, a would-be actor with tremendous drive and perhaps less talent (being kind here), who decided to invest $6 million in his quest for stardom. Tommy wrote, financed, produced, directed, and starred in The Room, a drama about a hardworking man whose girlfriend and best male friend betray him, leading to a tragic end. The film was widely panned and it quickly died, only to resurface later as a so-bad-it’s-funny classic cherished by a small but loyal fan base.
Ten years after the film premiered, Greg Sestero, Tommy’s close friend and co-star of The Room, published a memoir about their relationship and the struggles involved in making the movie. Titled Disaster Artist: My Life Inside “The Room,” the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made, the book quickly earned its own following and praise for being laugh-out-loud funny. And it was the book, not the original film, that caught James Franco’s eye and led to his making theDisaster Artist film now playing in theaters.
The steps taken to develop, finance, and produce this long-shot project form an interesting story and are a lesson for all screenwriters, but we won’t cover those business matters here. You’re reading the second installment of a two-part column. For details on how Michael and Scott were recruited to write The Disaster Artist and how they helped to get the film made, see Part One of “The Oscar-Nominated Writers behind The Disaster Artist,” published separately.
In this article, we’ll focus solely on Michael and Scott’s creative approach to writing the script: their process, choices, discoveries…commercial considerations, audience expectations…creating a balance between characters…things to be hinted at but left unsaid… decisions made as they first sat down to work on the script.
So, you saw the film and read Sestero’s book about the film, and agreed to take the job. When it was time to start writing, how did you begin?
Read the full interview on Writer's Digest...