News from Lansing

Screenwriters for cinema films sit at home for months on end, writing away alone in their hermitage – as I will soon be doing again for my major project “Aliens in Oberbayern“. So it’s no wonder that these screenwriters often invent the characters of quirky loners who are – how could it be otherwise – screenwriters:

Helmut Dietl’s “Rossini”, for example, tells the story of film producer Oskar Reiters, who, together with director Uhu Zigeuner, wants to make a film of the latest novel by the great author Jakob Windisch, but who fights tooth and nail against it. Windisch is legendarily shy of people. His downfall, however, is that every few days he allows himself to be served pasta by the beautiful Serafina in a separate room of the eponymous posh Italian restaurant. The scene in which Reiter finally wins the fight and Windisch dictates the grotesque terms of the contract to him is still legendary – at least in the film industry. Another example of this genre is Charlie Kaufmann, played by Nicholas Cage, in Spike Jonze’s magnificent film “Adaptation”. The real Charlie Kaufmann, who wrote the screenplay, has his alter ego say at his lowest point in the film: “I’m insane, I’ve written myself into my screenplay”, which his brother, also played by Nicholas Cage, thinks is pretty cool: “I’m sure you had a good reason, Charles. You’re an artist.” A conundrum of reality and fiction that ultimately ends fatally for the film character.

Screenwriters of a daily are spared this fate. This is partly due to the extreme speed at which they work here, and partly because they don’t sit alone in their hermitage, but because the process is based on an extreme division of labour. Three independent teams of writers work on the scripts, from developing the ideas for the individual plots to working out the finished dialogue.

After writing a series of Futures and dialogue books for the Bavarian daily “Dahoam is Dahoam“, I have now been part of the “middle team” for the first time for two weeks and am writing my first own outline. Friday was my first day and I’ll be going full throttle from Monday. It’s an incredibly enjoyable job and the team I’m working with is extremely professional. I can’t give too much away, just this much: nobody goes crazy here and nobody gets killed either. My episodes will be broadcast on Bayerischer Rundfunk at the beginning of December.