Wednesday, October 07, 2009

First Look With Kurtzman/Orci

Roberto Orci has recently confirmed to participate in the upcoming AFF!

With Alex Kurtzman, Orci penned Star Trek which grossed over $350 million worldwide and garnered fantastic reviews upon its release. The duo are currently working on a sequel. 2009 also saw the release of Transformers 2: Revenge of The Fallen, written by Kurtzman & Orci along with pal Ehren Kruger. It has since become one of the highest grossing films of all time, besting the 2007 original which Kurtzman & Orci also penned. Besides mastering film, Kurtzman & Orci have conquered the small screen as well, most recently with their hit Fox series Fringe (co-created with J.J. Abrams). Kurtzman & Orci have also written the 2006 hit Mission: Impossible III with Abrams, and the 2005 actioners The Island and The Legend of Zorro. They were also writers and executive producers on the ABC cult-fave TV show Alias.

He'll appear on the following panel, which is a guaranteed home run.

Saturday, 10/24
Write What You Know: Fantasy/Sci-Fi
A new series of master classes on writing for specific genres.

And the other part of the Kurtzman/Orci team? Steven Puri, Executive VP of Kurtzman/Orci and AFF veteran. Aadip Desai, President of the Northwest Screenwriters Guild recently caught up with Steven for the following interview. Both will be speakers at the 2009 AFF Conference.

Interview with Steven Puri and Aadip Desai:

Aadip Desai: What projects are you most excited about at Alex Kurtzman/Robert Orci?
Steven Puri: I think we have a fun slate – Cowboys & Aliens, Atlantis Rising, etc. We have big tentpole movies and smaller genre movies, and even some comedies.

AD: As a former visual effects guy, how does that influence what you do as Executive Vice-President at Kurtzman/Orci?
SP: It gives me a reference point to make these big movies. Helps me navigate the budgeting and scheduling.

AD: How did you get involved with Kurtzman/Orci?
SP: I was talking to an agent from CAA who introduced us.

AD: What do you guys look for over at Kurtzman/Orci?
SP: A lot of it is based on source material or existing intellectual property, but that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t do an original.

AD: How many times have you been to the Austin Film Festival (AFF)?
SP: I’ve been 3 times.

AD: Why should one go to the AFF?
SP: Unlike Sundance, Toronto, and Venice, which are very high pressure, like waiting in line for a club in New York, it’s a more casual environment and focuses more on screenwriters and on the work. You get to interact with people whose work you respect.

AD: What do you think it offers that other festivals and conferences don’t?
SP: Last year, I moderated a panel with Shane Black, Tim Kring, and Terry Rossio, who are all happy to talk to you about what you’re doing…John August was there, too. It’s really different than the 300-400 formal Sundance environments. You might as well be listening to a podcast.

AD: Where does all the action happen?
SP: Be out. A lot of the fun is hanging out in the Driskill lobby. You get to meet a lot of filmmakers in a casual environment. A lot of it is in between the seminars and screenings.

AD: Which events do you consider "must attend"?
SP: Just go with the flow. When you’re there, hang out with people you want to hang out with. Be there and be in the mix. It’s the Austin thing. You’ll end up being where you want to be.

AD: What should one bring to the conference (business cards, leave-behinds, etc.)?
SP: Bring all the usual stuff, but with Austin, bring the mentality of “go with the flow.” See what the day brings you. You’ll end up having interactions that you could not have planned for. You’ll inevitably end up sitting next to someone you want to talk to.

AD: Any "don'ts" for attending the conference?
SP: Don’t go home without having some good BBQ!

AD: What are some notable films, which you saw first at AFF?
SP: Too many to remember—Slumdog Millionaire. I missed it at Toronto but caught it in Austin. I was blown away.

AD: What is the reputation of the AFF screenplay competition within the business?
SP: The most direct route: Win one of the competitions like Austin. It gets you representation and that representation gets you into a production company. You must be represented, because we can’t take unsolicited submissions. Managers and agents scour the screenplay competitions for talent.

AD: What advice do you have for writers in developing and growing their careers?
SP: To write. You have to get the screenplays of the greats, study them thoroughly. It’s not about the schmooze game; it doesn’t pan out. You so rarely in my business read anything good. It’s that sort of experience--having something great. It doesn’t matter if they’re the most interesting person at the dinner party or not.

AD: What are some of the most common mistakes you see in screenplays?
SP: They fail on the conceptual level. They should have taken more time to think about what they’re writing. You can never recover from a poorly conceived idea. No matter how cool the dialogue or set pieces, it’s apparent when someone didn’t spend another bit of time banging on the idea. Conceptually is the right character in the right situation, with the right antagonism?

AD: Is it important that writers move to LA?
SP: Not until they have reached a certain level: two screenplays under belt, getting representation. #1 thing is to hone your craft. It’s not about being in LA to mingle or schmooze. Until then, no, you can write from a cave in Montana.