Christopher Hampton talks about screenwriter control.’Dangerous Liaisons’ Sprint Against Milos Forman – Kumla Masterclass

Oscar-winning screenwriter, playwright and film director Christopher Hampton I was in high spirits at a masterclass in Qatar earlier this week as part of . Doha Film Instituteof Cumra Talent Incubator Event (March 10-16).

Hampton, who won an Academy Award for the screenplay of dangerous relationship and father and was nominated for an Oscar atonementurged the Auditorium’s aspiring screenwriters to maintain some form of control over their work and creative vision.

“I would advise anyone to try to get at least some kind of associate producer credit to keep a grip on the material. And you have to fight…a lot of people “They don’t want to give it to you. Therefore, they have argued that they should be respected.”

“It’s very likely that other people’s ideas are just as good as yours, so don’t overdo it, but there will come a moment when the original idea morphs.”

Hampton recalled disagreeing with Sydney Pollack in 2002 about changing her script, which adapted Graham Greene’s script. quiet americanthe latter of which was executive producer.

“The memo I received had the effect of shifting the character just a little bit each time I made revisions,” he said. I realized that the characters were going in completely opposite directions.

“Only the writer knows what the character is trying to express. Small changes can undermine that vision. must be maintained.”

As an example of why it is important to maintain some degree of control, Hampton intimidated his audience by describing his race in an adaptation of an 18th-century French novel. dangerous relationship to the big screen in the face of stiff competition from Milos Forman.

The script was drawn from Hampton’s 1984 play based on the novel. Hampton had been toying with the idea of ​​adapting her novel since the early 1970s, but received backlash from the commissioner, who could not imagine how the framework of the letters the protagonists would never meet could be transferred to the stage. I was.

When the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) made an open offer to Hampton in 1984, he seized the opportunity.

“I didn’t think there was a better chance, so I went to write the script, and they weren’t happy at all. It was commissioned for a big new theater at the Barbican, and they wanted an audience.” was demoted to a 150-seat studio theater in Stratford.

Hampton said it was the first in a series of “amazing strokes of luck” in which play worked well in smaller spaces.

“It garnered very positive reviews and then we were in this mess that culminated in the movie. It was my decision not to sell the rights to any of the.Unusually for my work, all the major studios were bidding.”

Instead, Hampton decided to go with a smaller, independent company, Lorimar, as it would allow them to retain more control over the project.

“Unknowingly [Lorimar] We were headed for bankruptcy,” he said.

Hampton’s pressure to develop production in a smaller, independent company did not work for RSC.

“I had a fight with the Royal Shakespeare Company because I had to pay a percentage of what the Royal Shakespeare Company paid me. “There was that because everything else was going on.”

At the same time, director Milos Forman was making his mark in Hollywood with an Oscar for Best Picture. jumped out of the cuckoo’s nest and Amadeusannounced that he intended to make a film based on dangerous relationship.

“I knew he’d seen the play about four times, so this was a bit of a hassle,” Hampton said. “So I made up my mind to fight this.”

Hampton said his next fortune was to persuade Lorimar to accept Stephen Frears, who hadn’t directed a large-scale production at the time, as director.

“I was having meetings with all sorts of gorgeous directors – Polanski, Alan Pacula, Louis Malle. is not doing this, I am doing it.” Stephen was the last man standing. ”

The pair traveled to New York to meet Lorimar head Bernie Brillstein to discuss production.

“He said, ‘We’re in a race. I’m not going to let you make this movie unless you guarantee that you’ll come out first before Milos Forman,'” Hampton said. He said to Stephen, ‘When can you start work?’ Stephen took out a little diary and started looking through it, and after going through it for a while, he looked up and said, ‘Tuesday.

Dangerous Liaisons, Glenn Close, John Malkovich

Hampton had already acquired Glenn Close and John Malkovich for the lead roles in the Marquis de Merteuil and the Viscount Valmont.

“Normally I would have waited for the director, but while I was meeting with the other directors, I was in such a hurry that I found the right actors on my account and hoped the director would agree,” Hampton said. I thought it would be better,” he said.

He involved Malkovich by standing outside the door of the Broadway stage the actor was performing at the time, stuffing the script into his hands as he came out.

“Looking back on it now, it’s amazing. First of all, he was amazed. Then I said who I was. It turned out that a Steppenwolf had read one of my early plays, and he took the play away and called me at noon the next day and said he would do it.”

“We started filming at the end of May 1988 and had the movie in theaters before Christmas because we knew this monster was gasping for its back.”

Meanwhile, there was the drama’s final moments when Lorimar went bankrupt in his first week on set, halting production.

“We thought we were done, but luckily Close’s agent reached out to Warner Bros. They came in and funded the whole thing,” Hampton said. Told.

The film grossed $34 million on a $14 million budget, earned Hampton his first Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, and won the 1989 Academy Awards for Best Production Design and Best Screenplay. Won costume award.

Forman rival photo ValmontStarring Colin Firth and Annette Bening, came out in limited release in November 1989, grossed just $1.1 million against an estimated budget of $33 million, and won the 1990 Oscar for Best Costume It was nominated once for an award.

“As is often the case in the film industry, it took a series of miracles to get the film made in the first place,” says Hampton. “We are in a very unexpected business.”

Hampton is one of five established cinema names in the motion picture world to participate in this year’s DFI Kumla event as one of the so-called Kumla Masters.

Hampton’s directing credits were also touched on in an extensive masterclass moderated by Richard Peña, Professor of Film Studies at Columbia University. Carrington and imagining argentina Collaboration with Florian Zeller father.

Writers also revealed detail About the transatlantic relationship between iconic feminist author Simone de Beauvoir and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Nelson Allgren, on his upcoming project with French director Anne Fontaine. white chameleon to the big screen.

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