We here at Barely South Review are excited about the week-long Literary Festival at Old Dominion University. One of the great benefits of this program is the opportunity to interview attending writers and artists for our annual craft issue. This year we are excited to offer a preview of Amana Katora’s interview with Dustin Lance Black on the blog here. The theme this year is “Words with Teeth,” and I think we can all agree that Dustin Lance Black’s writing has teeth:
If you’re a fan of Dustin Lance Black’s writing for film and television, thank Dostoyevsky. The Academy Award winning writer spent time studying Russian literature before earning his degree from the Theater, Film, and Television program at UCLA. Seeking an affordable creative outlet after college, he began writing. In an interview on the craft, I learned he appreciates truth, jazz, and a good joke. Here’s an excerpt:
Q: How does your ideal vision of what you sit down to write change from initial inspiration to fully realized film or television? Has the final product ever surprised or disappointed you?
Lance: “I can’t say I’ve ever had any project turn out the way I had originally envisioned it and I think—I know—that’s a good thing. I always say I want to hold on to the ‘why’: why do you want to tell that story, why do you want to tell it right now. That’s what you can’t lose. But how you’re going to do it, who your characters are, what your plot is, you need to be willing to change those things and be excited about changing them. At a certain point when a draft is finished, you have to be willing to kill your precious little babies and continue to refine what you’ve done and get back to the original question ‘why.’ It always turns out your shooting draft is very different than that first aha moment of ‘let’s do this.’ That’s because of discovery, with your research or through executing an outline. You make discoveries and I think it’s best to leave yourself open to those discoveries.”
Dustin Lance Black is the writer of Virginia, Milk, J.Edgar, Pedro, and wrote for the HBO series Big Love. He will speak at 7:30 PM October 2nd, at Old Dominion University as part of The President’s Lecture Series and the 35th annual Literary Festival. Check out the January 2013 issue of Barely South Review to read his full interview.