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Tuesday, 26 August 2014 15:56

Screenwriting with Justin Lader

Written by  Thea Green
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Justin Lader’s scriptment for the genre-bending The One I Love follows a couple falling apart amidst, without giving too much away, the discovery of a very eccentric guesthouse.

A recent article in ScriptShadow offered insight into how Justin got his start and his process on the Charlie McDowell directed film lead by stars Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss.

Going to film school opened up Justin’s eyes to the possibilities of independent filmmaking. “My college film program at UCF was very independent minded,” he said. “At the time its claim to fame was the Blair Witch guys came out of there. Basically you wrote, directed, produced, edited, and sometimes acted in your own shorts. Permits didn’t matter. It was guerilla filmmaking and it was a lot of fun. At the time, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to dive in as a writer/director or just a writer.” 

Lader’s process usually starts in a solid outline so that he knows where his story is headed. “For me, I think it’s much better to have an idea of what the story is and more importantly where it goes so you have some kind of road map,” he mentioned. “That’s just me. Some people crank out a first draft very quickly and that turns into their outline. I find I write better and the process is easier when the story is broke before I begin writing. It saves me time and anxiety.”

Working on The One I Love required an adjustment to his usual process since the film was on tight deadlines due busy schedules. What resulted was a fifty or so page scriptment that relied heavily on improvisation, although he did end up scripting the ending. “As pre-production rolled along it became apparent that the last 30 minutes of the movie required full scripting for practical reasons that would have made improv difficult. So I scripted the last 30 pages, which was an interesting exercise because while the scriptment was very carefully plotted and detailed, I hadn’t heard these characters interact and a lot of that interaction was going to come directly from Lizzie and Mark.”s

Watching his story unfold and develop on set was an extremely rewarding experience for Lader. “Being on set every day, soaking up and absorbing everything I could from Mark, watching Charlie direct something I wrote with the skill and confidence of a veteran filmmaker, and having Lizzie convey a complex emotion I labored over describing in the script all in just a look was better than anything I was able to conceive of in my neurotic brain,” he said. 

The One I Love is currently playing in select theaters and VOD. (ScriptShadow)



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