When did you begin writing the screenplay for the film?
I started it as a short script around the end of 2010, I think. It’s a bit hard to remember at this point. The idea of “Emmageddon” was floating around quite a bit earlier though, in a sketch comedy show I wrote and directed.
What was your initial thought process and inspiration?
A long time ago, I took a Screenwriting 100 class at Santa Monica College. The cost was $11 per unit, which is hard to beat. On the last day of class, the teacher invited us to join a screenwriting group he hosted at his office/run-down apartment near campus. I went, and I ended up being in a screenwriting group for the next decade or so. Occasionally, someone would bring in a script where the protagonist was transparently a hyper-idealized avatar of the author. None of us had heard the term “Mary Sue” at this point, but when I did hear it, I understood instantly.
My writing process was the same as it always is– I sat down (in a gelato shop in Silver Lake) and wrote a script, and then I kept revising it until I didn’t hate it anymore. It’s nice to think you can choose what you want to write about, but in a certain way it chooses you.
Quote at the beginning of the film—“But I’ll tell you something: I think you’re magicians because you’re unhappy. A magician is strong because he feels pain. He feels the difference between what the world is and what he would make of it. “
Who would you say is the magician in the story if there was one, or do you feel as though you are a magician as a filmmaker in a sense?
Ha ha ha. I really really don’t want to call myself a magician in print, or blog, or whatever.
The epigraph of the script is from the book “The Magicians” by Lev Grossman, which is the only book on which I have ever considered getting a tattoo based.
There’s actually a TV adaptation premiering on SyFy soon. If I ever become a big-shot, directing a movie adaptation is one of my dream projects (http://ryanmmoore.com/2011/07/22/my-dream-project-if-youre-scoring-at-home/). I’d also just like to say I met Mr. Grossman once at a book signing and asked him a ridiculous, Comic-Book-Guy-esque question about the politics of his fantasy-world-within-a-fantasy-world, Fillory, and he answered me seriously and was very nice about it.
Anyway, the whole series (there are three books) is, among many other things, a metaphor for creativity. Magicians “feel the difference between what the world is and what [they] would make of it,” and so do artists. So, I guess everyone is the magician, because everyone feels that way, right? Everyone in this movie does, anyway.
So Emily’s boss Darius could easily represent the lack of control many artists feel while at their day jobs, and the frustrations they experience while “struggling” to be who they are. Tell us a little about him and the influence he has over Emily (without giving away key plot points).
Darius is Emily’s evil boss. Maybe Emily builds him up as “her evil boss” in her mind because she needs an outlet for her frustration, or maybe he really is just that evil. Maybe both.
I’d just like to add my actual boss is named Steve and he’s really, all joking aside, a very nice man.
Tell us about Emmageddon..What does she represent to Emily?
Emmageddon is Emily’s alter-ego, a reference to Jane Austen and also to a movie about an asteroid that apparently not as many people remember as I would have thought or hoped. Emmageddon has no “powers” in particular and is not incredibly tough, fast, or “strong”. She can be hurt just like anyone else. Everything Emily is, Emmageddon is too, but more so.
Describe Dylan and what he sees in Emily. Does he respect her as a writer?
I think Dylan respects everyone as a writer. Every finished screenplay is a gateway into another world, and he’s amazed at all of them, regardless of their objective merit. He’s amazed by Emily’s most of all.