Sunday, 17 October 2010

In Conversation: Martin Amis and Andrew Davies

On Monday 11th October, novelist Martin Amis sat on the stage of the Martin Harris theatre with Andrew Davies, who is known for his screenplay adaptations of Pride and Prejudice and Emma. Amis, also a University of Manchester lecturer, is best known for his novels Money and Night Train.

There's little point in me harping on about every detail of the night. So instead, check out blogger Alex Herod's fine account of the Manchester Literature Festival event here:

Aside these descriptions, Andrew Davies- who could pass as the love-child of Bill Murray and Anthony Hopkins- also recited many more tales, one of which featured Brian DePalma's immense beer gut.

He also mentioned the shooting of the movie Saturn Three. During this shoot Kirk Douglas had a hard time working with a female lead, who's stubborn assurance that she wouldn't disrobe for the camera led to Douglas threatening to “rip her fucking clothes off.” Davies tells us Saturn co-star Harvey Keitel “had a thing about nudity too,” and when Davies went to his house, a few weeks before the shoot, Keitel opened the door in the buff. I've not seen Saturn Three, but apparently there's a fight scene between Keitel and Douglas. Douglas wasn't too happy about this- not just because he loses but because Keitel is so much bigger than him. Eventually Douglas agreed to lose if it's an unfair fight. So that's why, if you've seen the film, Keitel sneaks up on him (predictably naked) and whacks him with a tyre iron.

Later, Davies mentions that Director Robert Altman (M*A*S*H, The Player, Short Cuts, Pret-a-Porter), although being “an absolute joy to work with”, had an attention span of maybe four to five minutes. This made filming somewhat drawn out.

Although Hollywood has treated Davies well, he's critical that the industry butchered so many of his scripts. Of the six that made it to the cinema screen, he says Circle of Friends was the only one not “hi-jacked” by America. From reading IMDB, I'd say it sounds like the Irish 1950's Rules of Attraction.

During the Q+A, I asked about feedback for budding screenwriters. I mentioned how advice on stories and poems were always readily available online, but screenplays... nobody seems to know much about them.

“This is the question that every writer really dreads...” said Davies. “Show them to your friends first, then professionals. Most of us can tell the difference between a bad script and a good one. Well, in fact,” he says, waving his palms into himself, “send them to me, darling!”

Stay tuned, Mr. Davies.

He also mentioned this site:

The Script Factory describes itself as “one of Europe’s leading film-makers’ organisations finding and developing new screenwriting talent; supporting the people who work with screenwriters and screenplay material; and presenting unique and unmissable live filmmaking events with some of cinema’s top creative talent.”

I bought a copy of Amis' yuppie-lifestyle novel, Money, which Amis himself signed before a handshake.


Jane Bradley said...

Thanks for the link to For Books' Sake - sounds like it was a great night!

CageFightingBlogger said...

Official MLF writeup: