In Which I Meet An Actual Screenwriter

As some of you may know, I aspire to be a screenwriter. One day I hope to have one of these:

Hey, sexy.

Unfortunately, I go to a school that doesn’t really have a screenwriting department to speak of. The one professor who teaches screenwriting is on sabbatical this year. I’m taking playwriting, which is pretty cool, but I can’t take home Mr. Oscar by writing plays.

Mr. Tony Award may be dapper, but he's no hunksickle like Mr. Oscar is.

So, I kind of try to find screenwriting experience opportunities wherever I can.

Two weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend something pretty fricken cool:

A talk given by Mr. Carl Gottlieb, screenwriter of Jaws, held at the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, Virginia.

Cool, right?

So cool.

The guy is kind fo a Hollywood legend. He wrote Jaws, Jaws 2, and Jaws 3D, as well as The Jerk, which he co-wrote with star Steve Martin.

Comedic genius.

He also acted, as well, and played a character called Iron Balls McGinty.

Yeah.

The guy hasn’t done too much in a while in terms of screenwriting, but he did write The Jaws Log, which is considered one of the best film logs ever, which I purchased and got signed after the talk.

I’m nto a huge Jaws fan, but I recognize it as a staple of Hollywood, a bridge to modern filmmaking, Spielberg’s first epic. Gottlieb gave an interesting account of his experience on the film, when he and Spielberg were bffs. He recounted to us a favorite memory of his, from after Jaws was filmed, on the Universal lot in Hollywood:

Basically, Spielberg and Gottlieb still hung out after the picture was made, and their offices were both on the Universal lot. Universal gives studio tours, which include taking the tourists through various recreation film sets and attractions. One such attraction is a giant mechanical Jaws shark that jumps out of a random pool and scares the shit out of pretty much everyone.

So Gottlieb and Spielberg would every-so-often take their lunch to a hill on the lot, watch people lose their shit over this shark, and laugh themselves silly about it.

Anyways, after the talk I went to get my book signed by the man himself. I told him that I was an aspiring screenwriter, and if he had any advice.

To paraphrase, he told me to “keep writing,” and to not get too attached to one piece. Write, write, write and don’t give up.

I will, Mr. Gottlieb, trust me.

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