Sure Zak Penn can write you a surefire blockbuster. He has proven that time and again with X-Men, Elektra, Fantastic Four. But that’s not all he can do. The Grand, an improvisational comedy set in the world of competitive poker that he wrote and directed, contains neither a superhero nor a highfalutin special effect, and is on DVD now. And with his long-awaited adaptation of The Incredible Hulk in theaters now, MM asked the in-demand scribe to share the “things he’s learned” in the business.
1. On the blockbuster summer movies, writing subplots that intersect with the main plot in the third act can be the difference between a good script and a bad one.
2. One of the most important qualities a director needs to have is stamina. Physical and mental stamina. Someone who knows him once commented that Peter Jackson’s ability to work effectively 16 hours a day is what separates him from his contemporaries. All the skill and intelligence in the world won’t help you if you are sick or asleep when the production needs you.
3. Comedic actors need not know they are funny in order to be funny.
4. Always stop arguing when someone says “yes.”
5. Directors are often better at taking notes than writers are. “That’s a good idea, I’ll do my best to address it” is a far more effective response than arguing.
6. Having a respected director on your set as an actor helps keep the cast and crew in line.
7. Directors should be good at firing people quicker. The faster you can pull the trigger on someone that’s not working out, the better off you’ll be.
8. The first 30 pages are the most important part of a screenplay, but the last 30 minutes are the most important part of a movie.