Tag Archives: the hollywood reporter

Insights from the THR Actor’s Roundtable

Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem

Assalam alaikum wr wb!

I haven’t been feeling excellent this past week, so I’ve engaged the Rest Protocol for a few days. That said, I know that I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks when I promised myself in the New Year that I would post every week.

I’ve crossed a few milestones in the writing front: I’ve finished the first draft of my second feature and have made a decision to go on the offensive in getting a produced credit. No news yet, but watch this space for the trials and well, trials.

And I watched Django Unchained. Most new releases might be good but forgettable. The Hobbit was good. Jack Reacher was good.

Some irritate me a great deal. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was one of them. Flight was one of them. Django Unchained didn’t irritate but boy, did it…disturb me. I’m only going to write about the ones that stir up something deep. Something I might tell my children about. Okay?

Sometime ago I took some notes on the THR roundtable of actors (I know, I know, I’m a screenwriter).  Listening to them, I realized actors are spiritual siblings to writers. We’re both trying to create something out of (almost) nothing. If anything, actors are under more pressure – they have to look good. No one expects a writer to look good; in fact, it’s surprising if they do.

Here are my observations:

  1. People remember kind people. Be kind.
  2. The pressure and the manic energy is what make you interesting.
  3. Mercurial rises in fame leads to mercurial people.
  4. Fame doesn’t change your life much (according to one actor, I can’t remember which).
  5. Fame makes people react to you differently. Your whole reality might shift.
  6. Fame affects your ability to go unnoticed in a crowd and this in turn might affect your ability to observe.
  7. Female actors have it tough over 40. Do a sister this solid – write a female character that’s over 40.
  8. Talent will always have work.
  9. I’m brown, Hijabi and a woman. I need to work double and triple hard to prove myself.
  10. What is communicated comes from the inner self.
  11. You attract what you fear.
  12. People identify even with villains and antiheroes as human beings, not as villains.
  13. What we say and what we give to young people is powerful.
  14. Fear and conflict sell.
  15. Read Journey to the East by Gandhi.
  16. Filmmaking and screenwriting is not what you are. It’s an expression of who you are.
  17. Filmmaking with people who are not thrilled to be there, whose lives are stake is nearly always a draining experience.
  18. Prep for acting is a lot like prep for writing. You get to know the background of the people, the work they do, etc. But the magic can’t be ‘prepared’ for. It comes from somewhere else. The unexpected stuff begins to arrive when you’re open to it.

Hope you enjoyed the above, guys.

Wassalam and Fee Amanillah,


Insights from The Hollywood Reporter’s Producer’s Roundtable

Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem.

Assalam alaikum wr wb, fellow scribes,

I wrote some notes on the Studio Executive’s Roundtable organized by the Hollywood Reporter, watched via the Black List screenwriting blog, Go Into the Story.

The lessons I learned below are only lessons because I’m a struggling nube. If you have more to add, please let me know in comments!

What is your take on awards in general? I think it’s nice to get recognition, but some of the most wonderful movies don’t get the attention they deserve and some truly awful or fair to middling ones get far more attention than they deserve.

I don’t put much stock in awards in terms of the kinds of movies that I should watch and gain inspiration from.

Anyways, here what I got:

  1. Producers feel pressure too. There’s a whole lot of money riding on this stuff.
  2. Production issues are far more unpredictable than distribution issues.
  3. The greatest moments are when a movie exceeds expectations – does that mean that we shouldn’t give them high hopes?
  4. They are just terrified of their hard work going to waste. Difference is – their hard work involves tons of disappointed people.
  5. People say that it’s just business, it’s not personal. Movie choices are hugely personal.
  6. What do Academy Awards mean to producers? The achievement of the good life. The achievement of something great in the eyes of your peers.
    1. The difference between profit-loss for independent films.
  7. It starts always with falling in love with the material (that’s our job!) Then the analyses happen.
    1. Once that material has caught you, you find ways to try and make rather than not.
    2. However, there are some movies that are just marketing fodder and some that are all about the execution.
    3. It’s a combination of passion and the amount of financial risk that that project can bear that configures on whether the film can get greenlit. Life of Pi got greenlit because a) Ang Lee got involved and b) The passion of the…someone?
  8. What is the cultural zeitgeist? Hurt Locker didn’t do as well because America wasn’t ready to watch war as entertainment.
  9. Awards season is much like political campaigning. If the Academy hadn’t put caps on it, it would go bananas.
  10. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bgw394ZKsis Impossible trailer.
  11. When your movie has a more intellectual bent rather than pure entertainment value, you always think of awards as a factor in marketing.
    1. However it’s a bit like ‘wishful thinking’ because you don’t really know if you’ve gotten the right elements in place to make this an amazing movie.
  12. Will America stop being a cultural exporter and start being an importer?

Will be posting notes on the Actor’s Roundtable and the Screenwriter’s Roundtable soon insha Allah.

Peace and God’s protection or as we say, Wassalam and Fee Amanillah,

The Happy Muslimah.