Notable Member: Writer Chris Keane  By

Notable Member: Writer Chris Keane

Chris Keane, screenwriter and writer of fiction and nonfiction books (How to Write a Selling Screenplay) lectures at Harvard. He just published Romancing the A-list. Chris talks about and, of course, about his book.

SH: How would you describe your experience with ?

CK: It’s been wonderful. I rented my place near Harvard and I rented a place in Los Angeles. Each time, its been an incredibly positive experience. I like the fact that it is a sabbatical because you get people that are on their way to take care of some task at some university and are very responsible. Furthermore, you get to meet very interesting people with whom you can become friends. I rented a place in Los Angeles, near Bel Air, and I became a friend with the couple who rented me the place.

SH: What do you like best about the concept ?

CK: The convenience. The website is very detailed, with a lot of pictures and information. It is also very accessible: you can call the people. Furthermore, it is less expensive than going through an agent because the people who rent their place on are academics and know that teachers don’t make millions. Therefore, they charge a reasonable rate. Also, people are usually flexible about the length of the stay.

SH: How did you hear about the website ?

CK: Laurel Chiten, who is a filmmaker, had used it and been very happy with it. She told me about it.

SH: Which advice would you give people who want to use the site ?

CK: I would tell them not to hesitate to use it, even for a vacation, precisely because of the flexibility.

The Book

SH: There are already a lot of books on the market about how to write a screenplay; what motivated you to write Romancing the A-list?

CK: In spite of all the time I spent in the industry, I hadn’t seen a book yet about what is the most important element of a script: one central character with a problem to solve. I wanted to show that the first draft of a script should be focused on the problem the main character has to solve. With that kind of attention, all the other characters will start becoming much more vital and compelling.

SH: Is that also what the agents will want to read?

CK: Absolutely. If the agents and the managers realize that their client will have their career enhanced by playing this part, they will offer it to them.

SH: What else do you insist on?

CK: The relationships: a screenplay should be all about conflict, and conflict is created by the relationships among the central character and the other characters. The collapse of time is also important: some students tell me that their story takes place over six months. I ask them to try to make it take place over a week-end. Language also needs also to be compressed. The ball needs to keep rolling. You don’t want to have big chunky paragraphs. You do want to have sharp active sentences. It is a motion picture, after all, a picture that moves. Passive sentence construction slows everything down.

by Veronique Maumusson

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