Robert C. Cooper

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    • Robert C Cooper: (About getting into the film business) I pretty much did what I just said. I went to film school, first of all, four years of film school. There are really two ways to break into the business. One is to start working as a volunteer, or a trainee, on the crew side of things. And then you work your way through various crew positions. And what you need to do is decide which discipline you want to be involved in, whether you want to start with camera or whatever. I mean, just to say 'I want to be a director,' well everybody can say that. You can go out and get some money and make some movies and prove that you can be a director, and do it yourself. Or you can work your way through the AD [Assistant Director] group. Martin Wood, who is one of our regular directors, was an AD for a number of years before he got the opportunity to direct. Or you do what I did, which is come out of film school and write some scripts. I wrote three feature scripts, and I put them in a bunch of envelopes and sent them out with a letter explaining who I was. And the thing is, none of those scripts were good. In fact, they were all terrible. What got me noticed, and what got the attention of people in the business was that I had three. It's an odd thing, but a lot of guys walk around with one script in their pocket. And what that says is that they sat down and wrote a script. That doesn't make you a writer. What makes you a writer is your commitment to the process, and the fact that you are prolific, and that you're passionate and committed to the idea of being a writer. The fact that I sat down and wrote three feature scripts - now, they were bad by most people's standards - but they still, I think, demonstrated some spark, or some indication that maybe I had some talent. But I think it was more the fact that I had three different ideas, chose to lay them out, understood how a script was written, not just the formatting, but the structure, and demonstrated that. So that got me a job as a junior staff writer at a company that was making low budget feature films. And over that period, the next two or three years, I wrote, like, 20 feature scripts, some of which got produced, some of them with or without my name on them. And they were awful, awful, awful movies, but it was an education for me. It was like going to script camp. It's a process. You've got to be devoted to it. It's not something, I think, that you can do very well in your spare time. There are a lot of books on screenwriting, and one of the best pieces of advice I've ever read in one of them is that a writer writes. And that's what you do. You learn from making the mistakes of what doesn't work, and that comes from writing dozens and dozens and dozens of scripts.