Charlie Kaufman on truth, fiction, and meaningful art


Charlie Kaufman was invited by BAFTA to deliver a speech as part of their “Screenwriters on Screenwriting” lecture series. It happened back in late September, though it only came to our attention through /Film yesterday. One of his opening remarks is this Thomas Mann line that’s actually been obsessing me for years: “A writer is someone for whom writing is harder than it is for other people.” Essentially, it’s hard if you care. Basically, it’s true.

In a roundabout but always fascinating way, Kaufman talks about writing screenplays, but in many cases the screenplay is a stand-in for any work of art you want to make that you feel has value and says something honest about yourself.

At one point, Kaufman says: “I can’t tell anyone how to write a screenplay because the truth is that anything of value you might do comes from you. The way I work is not the way that you work, and the whole point of any creative act is that. What I have to offer is me, what you have to offer is you, and if you offer yourself with authenticity and generosity I will be moved.”

It’s a beautiful lecture for anyone who admires Kaufman and wants to do something creative in life. It may be something you need to hear. A video of the lecture and full transcript is available, which I highly recommend checking out.

[Via /Film, BAFTA Guru]

Hubert Vigilla
Brooklyn-based fiction writer, film critic, and long-time editor and contributor for Flixist. A booster of all things passionate and idiosyncratic.