Part 4: Shaping the Story

On July 23, we still didn't know if Kaufman would cooperate, and Jason still hadn't seen his new movie. But based on the early reports coming out of Cannes, we had some idea of what the themes and tone might be, and Jason and Nancy started thinking about how to shape the story in light of that.

On 7/23/08 4:55 PM, "Jason Tanz" <Jason_Tanz@wired.com> wrote:
Just jawboning here, but:

1) this sounds like an interesting counterpart to Adaptation. In that film, "Charlie" struggles with how to express the essential truth of the book he wants to adapt -- he views traditional dramatic structure as hackneyed, cliched, and most of all untrue. McKee seems to convince him that no, it's not untrue -- if you can't find the drama in real life, don't waste my time -- and then "Donald" takes over and closes the film with this rip-roaring, sex-and-drugs-in-the-swampland Hollywood ending. It's up to the viewer to decide whether this was a cheap, sarcastic sell-out or an actual "adaptation" that improves the film.

So this movie is ALSO about an artist who's trying to present "truth" (and in interviews, Kaufman himself talks a lot about this being his prime motivation in this movie as well). But he, and Kaufman, go the opposite way in this. They get more and more inward-looking and abstract, until the whole thing becomes completely formless and impossible to follow. (I'm reminded of that scene in Adaptation where Charlie's screaming into his tape recorder "We begin at the beginning of time!" or whatever, and then he listens to it the next morning and is like, "What was I thinking?" This movie sounds like it's basically that tape recording, spun even further out.)

2) this threatens to become REALLY corny, but: a) if Kaufman's project is "emotional truth," and he thinks that the standard storytelling tropes (and commercial imperatives) obscure that truth; and b) my job is to present some "truth" about Kaufman; then c) there's some parallel between the movie and the article (or really any creative project, I guess). It will be a challenge to bring the meta without also bringing the obnoxious, but maybe there's a theme to touch lightly upon there.

3) the dude doesn't like to talk about his personal life, which is fair enough, and doesn't like to explain his work, which is also fair enough. I haven't hear him talk much about his influences, which would seem a pretty good place to start. I'm assuming like Borges, Kafka, Dick (he wrote an early adaptation of Scanner, Darkly), etc. I don't want to overdo the recluse angle, which has been done to death already.

ACTUALLY, you know, he's really the perfect niche artist. He's got a devoted audience, but a small one by Hollywood standards. So maybe that's a theme to touch on....

OK, sorry, no need to resopnd, I'm just thinking out loud here....

On 7/24/08 10:41 AM, "Nancy Miller" <Nancy_Miller@wiredmag.com> wrote:
I like the idea of knowing his influences--seems a good starting point in understanding who he is and what he's about. I like the "truth" about Kaufman. Like the miniature city in the film, you are constructing a model of Kaufman to magazine scale--a feat considering the limited material he's giving you to work with. All profiles are like that, I guess. Anyway, I like what you're saying, especially in 2) and 3). I think you need to see this film asap, of course. Going to see if they're screening up here anytime soon.

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