The Aaron Sorkin Interview from ILM/LucasFilm Speaker Series

The Social Network, again. I continue to be fascinated by how they did it.

I swing between regarding Sorkin as a genius and someone with no respect for the medium of film. Film should be a healthy marriage of show and tell, visuals and talk – his writing is almost the exact opposite, the extreme end of too much talk. But, the words work so well together that  you can close your eyes and just listen to the dialog. So, either Sorkin just wrote the way he did, without any respect for the grammar of cinema (which is what most hacks do) or he understood it so well, saw it so clearly that he could play with it the way he wanted to (it almost always takes a genius to do that). Whichever way you look at it, it is very clear that directing material like Sorkin’s is a very very tough job. His material has led to invention of film-devices like the “walk & talk“! (BTW: would you call it a “trope”? It’s more like a narrative device, but, for film…ah! forget it) Here is a great sampler from 30 Rock where they do the walk & talk with Aaron Sorkin himself in the cameo – “We don’t need two metaphors, that’s bad writing, not that it matters…” – comedy gold!

I had seen Mike Nichols’ Charlie Wilson’s War and that made me think “How could Sorkin write something so big, so grand in scope and still be meticulous enough about the small moments?” However, all in all that film did not have as big an impact as The Social Network did. Maybe it was some nuance in the writing or maybe it was the director. I’ll go with the director there. (please don’t misunderstand me, I think Nichols is a great director in his own right, Closer is proof and so is The Graduate, Catch 22 etc.)

So, Sorkin material is tricky. Which is why I feel that Sorkin should only work with people like David Fincher, who can carve a fiercely visual experience out of his words. Somehow I think Fincher is a lot more fierce, emotional and personal about making his films. He tries harder, fights harder, goes nastier and so on. And I feel that it shows.

I keep going back to Zodiac for David Fincher with the same kind of awe that I felt for CWW and Sorkin. How did he do it? How could he be so grand in scope, yet so mindful of the smallest details? Also, I keep watching The West Wing, Studio 60, Sports Night for Aaron Sorkin’s writing, trying to make sense of it all.

Then I see The Social Network.

We can all get into arguments about the events around Facebook were not as big a deal as the events around Afghanistan and that that would in turn affect the film that got made, but, it would be a moot discussion. The point is that regardless of the subject, Fincher and Sorkin have always been able to treat it (the subject matter) well, break new ground and deliver gold. And to do that well you need to know you stuff really-really well.

And that, is genius.

So, when in this interview I heard Sorkin talk about the mechanics of doing it, how he came to write The Social Network, how Mike Nichols and David Fincher treat his work (and what they bring to the table) and how they worked with the actors on the material, I was, as I said before, fascinated.

At the time of this post, embedding is disabled on these videos, therefore I’ll directly link to the videos (that’ll open in a new tab/window). Here we go:

  1. Part 1 of the interview,
  2. Part 2 of the interview,
  3. Part 3
  4. and Part 4.

Fascinating! 🙂