THE EFFORT THAT GOES INTO GREAT CREATIVE WORK EXCEEDS AWESOME—BUT THE RESULTS JUSTIFY IT
Yesterday, I wrote about some of the guidelines I follow when writing a thriller movie, but when I tried to recall a definitive example of the real thing, my mind went blank. Well, it had been a long day.
Today, inspiration struck and I realized that you need look no further than the awesome LA CONFIDENTIAL. It is stunningly good.
On the once hand, you can follow the plot with relative ease—and each sequence is satisfying in itself—but you still get hit with surprise after surprise until the totality of the plot becomes clear.
LA Confidential is also beautifully written by Curtis Hanson and Brian Helgeland, and despite being a decidedly grim story, still contains a refreshing amount of humor. The back story of its writing is fascinating and is a good example of the extraordinary effort and fortitude needed to write a phenomenal screenplay.
Let me draw on Wiki again:
Helgeland found that Hanson had been hired to direct and met with him while the filmmaker was making The River Wild. They found that they not only shared a love for Ellroy's fiction but also agreed on how to adapt Confidential into a film. According to Helgeland, they had to "remove every scene from the book that didn't have the three main cops in it, and then to work from those scenes out." According to Hanson, he "wanted the audience to be challenged but at the same time I didn't want them to get lost". They worked on the script together for two years, with Hanson turning down jobs and Helgeland writing seven drafts for free. The two men also got Ellroy's approval of their approach. He had seen Hanson's films, The Bedroom Window and Bad Influence and found him to be "a competent and interesting storyteller," but was not convinced that his book would be made into a film until he talked to the eventual director. He later said, "They preserved the basic integrity of the book and its main theme. Brian and Curtis took a work of fiction that had eight plotlines, reduced those to three, and retained the dramatic force of three men working out their destiny."[