Thursday, April 1, 2010

People Will Talk IV - James Cameron on Endings

For the unfamiliar, a "reveal" in screenwriting parlance is the placement of key, revelatory information in a story. Most times, the last reveal is the most important revelation of all.


In his interview in American Screenwriters, Edited by Karl Schanzer & Thomas Lee Wright, Avon, 1993, p. 65, screenwriter and director, James Cameron said this about satisfying endings:

A screenplay can be running along great, and all the dramatics are working very well, and then it has an ambivalent ending, or maybe the studio tacked on a different ending. For me, any ending that could go different ways is the wrong kind of ending. There should be one true and proper ending that’s satisfying to the audience.
And in another interview in A Cut Above, Michael Singer, Lone Eagle, 1998, p. 34 – 5, Cameron said:

When I walk out of a theater these days, fifty percent of the time I don’t know what the movie was about. And I don’t like that feeling. For my own personal taste, I like to have a certain clarity of intention. I think you have to have something to hope for. When you watch a football game, you’re cheering for your team to make a touchdown. And for an audience to invest themselves in a film, I think they have to understand what the ground rules are. I also see a lot of films these days that don’t have an ending. They have great characters, set pieces that are fun, but the endings seem to be modular—they could have done it differently. The best films, to me, are the ones that can have only one ending. When I hear people shooting different endings for a movie I say, “God, how can you do that?” For me the ending comes first and then you write backwards, and all the threads converge on that. And when it happens, there’s a rightness about it that resonates through the rest of the film.
'nuff said. #


Lee A. Matthias

Quote of the Post:

A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.
---Harold Fricklestein

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