AMPAS' Academy Originals series continues to be not just a dynamic peek behind the creative process for filmmakers and actors, but a nice look into what makes inspires some of the most gifted individuals working in the sphere, what makes them tick, and screenwriter Eric Roth is a great subject.
I've known Roth for close to 10 years now. He's a fascinating writer to me, and reading his work on the page can be exhilarating. He has such a way with painting a picture for you, navigating the waters of a screenwriting format that can often be unbending, rigid and dry by its very nature.
Roth is also rather old school. He writes his script in a DOS program without any access to the internet while he's fleshing out his work. It eliminates distraction (not that Eric's surfing Twitter at any given moment), but it also keeps the script from leaking out or anything. Paranoid? Maybe. He also will only disseminate (generally) via hard copy. Meanwhile, the program can only save roughly 40 pages at a time before it runs out of memory. “I like it because it makes you make acts,” Roth says in the video below. “If I haven't said it in 40 pages, I'm starting to get into trouble, you know?”
Whatever Roth's process, it's clearly worked for him. An Oscar for “Forrest Gump.” Acclaim for “The Insider,” “Munich” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” not to mention a backlog of great prestige work lying on shelves waiting to be tackled. Eventually, they may take off, just like Angelina Jolie's “Africa,” announced just last week. Maybe one day we'll get the western “Comanche” from Michael Mann. Or perhaps his latest work, a space epic opus that has attracted filmmakers like Ben Affleck and J.A. Bayona in recent years, could finally catch flight amid a torrent of similar projects (“Gravity,” “Interstellar,” “Guardians of the Galaxy”).
Learn more about Eric Roth's slog through the life of a Hollywood screenwriter in the Academy Originals installment below.