Writer and director, David Schneider, came to Her Campus CCCU to speak to the third year Creative and Professional Writing screenwriting class.
Schneider started his career as an actor, but as he couldn’t always get work he went onto stand-up comedy. When he gained more confidence in the field he wrote a play. Despite coming from a British sitcom background, Schneider managed to get into the world of Hollywood writing, where the writer has a different level of prestige. He admits that ‘It was a real shock the structure of a Hollywood movie’.
Although Schnieder says that ‘Hollywood is very brutal’ as he experienced himself when he was ‘Dropped from a film without being told and another writer brought in’, he also encourages everyone to experience it, saying ‘You should all work for Hollywood’.
Schneider is most well-known for his parts in 28 Days Later (scientist) and I’m Alan Partridge (Tony Hayers). He has also written and appeared in, Births, Deaths and Marriages, a BBC Radio 4 sitcom.
All of Schneider’s knowledge of the field has been self-taught, admitting he’s ‘Never read a screenwriting book or been to these lectures’ he immerses himself ‘in it by doing the work’. He admits though, that his knowledge has often made him ‘Very dull and spoilt a lot of family cinema outings’, because he would guess and reveal the plot twist. He says that as a writer he’s ‘Never off duty, which irritates [his] family’.
Do you ever get writers block?
‘Everyone gets writers block.’
How do you tackle it?
‘If I’m blocked, I just get up and go and make a cup of tea and be half ruminating on the problem. I wouldn’t just sit and face it.’
What advice would you give on how to tackle writer’s block?
‘If you find it very difficult [to work out the plot] just start writing – you may discover the end.’ And often just ‘The enjoyment of writing will unblock you.’
What are you currently working on?
‘My goal at the moment is to get something on BBC One’.
What problems have you faced?
‘I know I’ve got it wrong sometimes, I’ve written things that were more BBC One and a half. So neither BBC One nor Two can accept’.
What advice would you give any budding writers?
1) ‘Be prepared to kill your babies… babies being things you’re fond of in case there are any literalists [reading]’
2) ‘As a writer you want to offer something to the actor with every scene’ and ‘You should trust actors’.
3) ‘In life we rarely say what we mean, and in good dialogue you don’t say what you mean. It’s all about not saying things, passive aggressiveness is great – just look at Facebook statuses.’
4) ‘The more you can hold back and create barriers the better’.
5) ‘Getting an agent really helps’.
What’s your motto?
‘The best thing I was ever told…
Nothing you write is ever wasted
…You’ve got better in writing that script’.