Film critic Catherine Bray interviewed Joss Whedon in 2006 for UK movie magazine Hotdog to find out his top ten screenwriting tips. Catherine has kindly given us permission to reproduce the article here.
Joss Whedon is most famous for creating Buffy the Vampire Slayer, its spin-off Angel and the short-lived but much-loved Firefly series. But the writer and director has also worked unseen as a script doctor on movies ranging from Speed to Toy Story. Here, he shares his tips on the art of screenwriting.
Sigh no more, ladies. Sigh no more. The trailer for Joss Whedon’s MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, a modern adaptation of the Shakespearean play, has been released. The film stars practically everyone from the Whedonverse, including Angel’s Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof, Firefly’s Nathan Fillion, Dollhouse’s Fran Kranz, and The Avengers’ Clark Gregg. The film debuted at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival and is slated for limited release in the US on June 7, 2013.
The Avengers - directed by Joss Whedon. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston.
The superhero franchise is alive and well thanks to Marvel and its ambitious undertaking of assembling six of the comic book universe’s larger-than-life heroes and putting them all in one fun, explosive and action-packed movie. With the help of guru of all things geek Joss Whedon, Marvel served up one of the biggest, most entertaining films of the year. Funny, dramatic, exciting and playful, it’s a testament to how big and bold films can be, especially when colorful characters like the Avengers are involved. With so many egos to balance, there needed to be a solid script and the right cast of characters to pull off a film on such a grand scale. Not only did the film need to introduce some new faces, but it also needed to develop the existing ones in new ways. And the film accomplishes that without ever belaboring the point.
The film features people clad in funny-looking costumes, but there’s never a time when audiences question that. We accept this as reality, because not only are the actors convincing, but the script seems grounded. This marriage of the extraordinary with the humanizing of superheroes results in a film that makes one feel like a kid again. We believe in these superheroes, but we also know that in many ways they are like us. The usually unflappable Tony Stark is revealed to have a heart, the boy scout Captain America is literally out of his element in this brave, new world he’s in, and Dr. Banner has to come to terms with the fact that no matter how much he tries to do normal things and help people, he’ll never really be average. How Whedon and company were able to convey these to audiences without dwelling too much on character development is quite a feat. But the best thing about The Avengers is that is makes you believe in heroes again. In a film industry saturated with superhero movies, it’s remarkable that Marvel and Whedon were able to craft just the right blend of genres to entertain even the haughtiest of movie critics.
Everything about The Avengers is big, big, big, and almost to a fault. A sequel would do well to focus on something a little bit more intimate, which will undoubtedly be more of a challenge. That said, it would have been easy to dismiss The Avengers as just another mindless superhero romp were it not for the incredible attention to detail and magnetic performances that shine in the film. There’s some very nuanced pieces in the film that would delight hardcore comic book fans without alienating those who aren’t as invested in the material. The witty banter between characters and elaborate action sequences cater to both fanboy whims and casual viewers, resulting in an endlessly entertaining film that never bores. The Avengers is an adrenaline-pumped action film that audiences are only too willing to go along for the ride because it’s just pure fun.
The Cabin in the Woods - directed by Drew Goddard. Starring Kristin Connolly, Chris Hemsworth and Fran Kranz.
The Cabin in the Woods may at first glance seem like your typical horror flick. Genre archetypes and tropes abound, and scribes Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon are counting on the audience’s familiarity with horror films so they can spring a clever and unexpected surprise of a story. It’s an homage to the thrillers and slasher movies we’ve seen, but with a twist that’s sure to entertain, especially to Whedonites.