Hollywood's highest-grossing female screenwriter—of the Twilight films and ABC's Red Widow—sounds off on movies, mentorship, and the agony of her art. Special effects and stars do not necessarily a good movie make.
The film industry sees the writer as fungible: The thinking goes, As long as we have Brad Pitt and all this money, we have a great film! No, you need a writer with voice and an engaging story, or what you have is a bomb.
It doesn't matter if you're the smartest person in the room: If you're not someone who people want to be around, you won't get far. Likewise for helping those in line behind you. I take seriously my role as a mentor to young female filmmakers—I make sure my time is tithed.
We all have a calling.
Everyone is given one gift, a reason for being, and it's our obligation to do something with it. Obviously, it's a challenge—but if you're not taking the bull by the horns, I have no patience for you. You're just taking up space.
Hell, yes, there's a double standard in Hollywood.
You could produce a ridiculous action flick for 13-year-old boys, and critics will say, "Oh, it's just an action flick." But the vitriol directed toward Twilight is astounding. It may not be Doctor Zhivago, but I think some critics call it stupid and frivolous not because it's inherently bad but because it's made for girls.
Frustration is my motivation.
When I'm stuck in my writing, the world is amiss. If I'm eating a sandwich, it's an unsettled sandwich. If I'm in the shower, it's an incorrect shower. It's profoundly uncomfortable. But it's what keeps me pushing.