More attention and thought goes into naming a character in 'Call Of Duty' than all the work that can go into certain movies. Blood and sweat and tears go into figuring out the names because they are so important. The call signs say a lot about you. The brotherhood that's evoked by the name is quite profound.
The movie business has been in enormous flux. It's always changing, and you've got to scramble. The Internet came along and devoured the DVD backend of the movie business. Suddenly you're watching dollars turn into nickels, and that's interesting to me.
I came to Hollywood originally writing comedy and writing satire.
Life serves up satire. Unfortunately. Or fortunately. I don't know. You have to reel it in to drama.
As I got into my teens, I started reading better books, beginning with the Beats and then the hippie writers, people like Wallace Stegner up in Northern California, and all the political New Journalism stuff, the Boys on the Bus dudes and Ken Kesey.
At the beginning, everything's possible and everybody gets equal time, all the characters, all the ideas. You don't know who's going to be the main characters; they're all fighting it out. It's like kind of the best time in a way.
My father's father wrote for a Philadelphia newspaper and aspired to be a playwright. We had in our house a couple of crazy unproduced plays that he had written. For the one creative writing class I took in my life, I didn't do any writing - I decided that I would plagiarize his terrible play to not fail the class.
Starting in '98 when I was researching 'Traffic,' I got to meet really serious people in Washington, which for a screenwriter was kind of a great gift. And I really valued these guys; I stayed in touch with them, and I find their point-of-view quite interesting.
When I moved to Los Angeles, I wrote spec screenplays. I was really poor, and I thought I was just gonna do this for a while to make a little money so I could write novels. I thought movies were a second-class art form. I condescended to it - I didn't know enough to know it was really gonna be hard.
I think the War on Terror has succeeded in creating more terror, more terrorists, a less safe America, and a less safe world.
The average development time for a Hollywood movie is nine years. Nine years for a studio film. And a lot of what you do is abstract.
I can't separate the process of writing from the visual process. I'm speaking only for myself here, but I'm a highly visual writer. In my imagination, when I'm thinking of a scene, I think of every last detail of it: The space, the color palette, the blocking of the actors, the placement of the camera.
I know Charlie Kaufman really well, for instance. Charlie Kaufman starts a story, and he has no freaking idea where he's going. None. Zero. And he doesn't want to know, because there's a little bit of death in that.
I love the op-ed pages of the 'L.A. Times,' the 'Washington Post' and the 'New York Times.' There's just no substitute for the people who are thinking and writing on those pages.
I remember, when I was writing 'Traffic,' talking to top federal drug-enforcement officials and having them say they read it and found it very good and believable, except the scene where the girl describes her resume.
It's rare in Hollywood to get the chance to work on something that you actually care about. The tragedy of the place is all these talented people trying to get excited about stuff they themselves would only view at gunpoint.
It's tricky to ask a filmmaker to explain his own work; usually we're the least qualified to make sense of what we've done, unfortunately, because of the tunnel vision required to create anything over four years.
When I was seven and told my mom, 'I'm gonna be a writer,' she said, 'Oh, that's a terrible idea. You'll live in misery and die teaching other people's children badly.' My parents wanted the safer path for me, and I think they failed miserably achieving that.