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Nicole Holofcener Interview

Friends With Money

INTERVIEW BY KENNA MCHUGH
In her new film, Friends with Money, Nicole Holofcener explores the idea of how tricky the issue of money is between friends. "In my friendships there is no problem surrounding money. But I certainly feel that the topic of money seems to be coming up a lot more. It's relevant in everybody's lives. I thought it would be an interesting angle to come at these characters." Filming with an all-star ensemble cast including Joan Cusack, Frances McDormand, Catherine Keener and Jennifer Aniston, Nicole laces a story that touches the lives of three financially successful women, who are married with children as they focus on their friend who is single, broke, smokes pot and longs for a relationship. Viewing Friends with Money, a writer can recognize Nicole's talent for creating a menagerie of scenes with beguiling dialogue. Each scene is honest and real it is awe-inspiring. Even with a mundane message - money does not solve your problems - you cannot help but want to share your life with these four women.

Catching with Nicole was ingenious in itself. Between her busy life as a mom on a press junket and my busy life as a writer on a couple of over due articles, we carried out the interview with her on the cell phone driving in Southern California traffic while I am on my phone in a hotel room in Florida. We had an insightful conversation about the craft of screenwriting. Here is a modified version of that interview formatted to fit this web site.

Writing the script for Friends with Money did you work from a treatment or outline?

I have found that treatments are so much harder to write than scripts.

I don't write an outline. I stopped that a long time ago.

In the past when I would write the outline, I wouldn't write the script because I felt like I did all the dirty work already -- all the imagination. All the imagining was done on the outline which killed the inspiration for me to write the script.

I just make a few notes; so I have an idea about what direction I am going. I make notes about certain characters I want to pursue. Then, I just start writing.

I have written so many scripts, not hundreds, but after ten scripts or so I have an intuitive idea about where acts are. Thankfully, I've been able to do it this way and the scripts always end within 120 pages.

How many drafts did you write?

I only wrote one formal draft.

It's not like I wrote a draft gave it to a bunch of people to read, wrote another draft gave it to a bunch of people to read. It was more like me going over it myself - over and over and over again as I was going along.

It's one protracted draft. Protracted - on going -- I was going over the script as I was going along writing the script; instead of one draft then another draft.

Like you would do a scene then go back and work on that scene little bit more?

Exactly. I'd sit down then read what I had written the day before. I'd realize that it stunk and then rewrote it. So, I'd have a draft going that way - on going.

When do you know you finished writing the script?

I am done with a script when I am sick of it. No. That really wouldn't be the case because that happens anyway.

It's a feeling that I have where, 'Okay, I have resolved every character's story and I can't resolve them any more.'

I look at all the scenes. Each scene I ask: Do I want to make that scene? Do I want to shoot that? Would I enjoy shooting that scene? Would that be gratifying to work on? If I want to work on that scene, I say, 'Well then…let's do it.'

If it's not a scene I want to work on then I will change it; or generally I cut it out. And, if enough people like it I keep it in the script. If everybody hates it then I wouldn't proceed (laughs).

There is always re-writing after you feel you are done. I didn't have to do a lot on this one, thankfully.


Kenna McHugh is an established freelance writer living in California. Her writing credits include the published book, BREAKING INTO FILM, three screenplays, seven produced plays. From more information about her bookhttp://home.earthlink.net/~kennamc

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