How to Break in

Derek Haas co-wrote the screenplay 3:10 to Yuma, starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. He also co-wrote the film Wanted, starring James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman, and Angelina Jolie. The Silver Bear is his first novel. Derek lives in Los Angeles.

  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Question: What’s the trick to breaking into Hollywood?

Derek Haas:  A lot of Hollywood is just getting material into people’s hands that can do something with it. I think when you know you have something good is when every single person that reads it wants to be a part of it. What happened was Michael was working, he was Robert Rodriguez’s assistant on this movie, The Faculty when we finished and he didn’t want to give the script to Robert. He was practically living with him while they were editing the movie and he didn’t want to be just that guy. So he ended up giving it to his boss on the movie which was his post-production supervisor. She loved it and wanted to be a part of it. She gave it to a producer’s assistant. The producer’s assistant gave it to this producer. The producer called me in Atlanta when I had no idea what was going on and said, “how would you guys feel about Brad Pitt being the lead”, and of course, my heart’s just like, “what?”, and in retrospect you can’t believe how impossible this chain of events is but a week later Brad Pitt was attached to the movie and that’s how it sold. That’s my advice, if you can get Brad Pitt attached to your movie, then it’ll sell.e were about four years out of school at this point and again, I’d been working in advertising and Michael had started cutting movies and we just said instruction be damned. Let’s break the rules, let’s not adhere to this whole, what am I trying to say? With that script, we just both said, rules be damned. You always hear write what you know and I grew up in the suburbs and Michael, too, and write what you know works if your dad is in the CIA or your mom’s a mafia boss or something but for us we said, “Screw write what you know, write what you think is cool.” Hopefully what we think is cool is what the rest of the audiences will think is cool so we broke the form, we wrote camera moves in which is a big no-no when you’re learning to write scripts. We zigged every time we thought we would zag and we zagged every time we thought we would zig. It was a quirky thing, the timing was right, this was a few years after Pulp Fiction when studios were seeking those kind of down and dirty crime centered, quirky scripts so everything just hit at the right time. That advice of know all of the rules so that you can break them, is really what helped us. 

 

 

 


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