Who: Writing team behind 2016 border patrol feature Transpecos and 2015 short “Dakota.” Kwedar also produced the award-winning 2012 Rwanda bicycling documentary Rising from Ashes.
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
Greg Kwedar: Stop ‘getting lunch’ to ‘pick people’s brains’ and set a start date to make your movie. Say ‘We’re shooting the first week of June,’ not ‘We’re hoping to shoot sometime in the summer.’ People want to be part of a train that’s leaving the station.
Clint Bentley: To let the story guide you, not to force the story into a conclusion you want it to have. If you do your job right, the characters will start acting of their own volition and you can follow them where they want to go. And to finish the damn draft. Every screenplay seems impossible to finish at some point and the easiest thing to do is abandon it. Also, a mentor of ours, Larry Andries, once told us to use dialogue only as a last resort. I don’t always do a good job implementing this, but it’s incredible advice.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
GK:Transpecos. The research and writing alone took four years. It took so long, primarily because Border Patrol is a very closed-off agency, and to access the human stories behind the uniforms we had to venture out into the desert ourselves. Clint and I would drive out in the middle of nowhere until we found an agent bored on the job, leaning on their truck nursing a gallon jug of water. We’d pretend we were lost Canadian tourists, holding an upside-down map. Then the stories would just start to flow. Agents were desperate to be recognized as more than a government symbol. The relationships grew into having beers with agents in one stoplight towns to sitting around dinner tables with their families. And from there, our script really began to take shape. We found the nuance and depth.
What are some of your favorite movies?
CB:One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Children of Men, Casablanca and Breathless.
GK:Y Tu Mamá También, The French Connection, Badlands, No Country for Old Men.