Artist’s Corner: Whit Stillman on Finding Success

Your films are very dialogue driven, had you always intended to use film to tell stories?


I wanted to be a novelist, I had childhood ambitions to follow my father’s career in law and politics, but to try to go further than he went, because he was very frustrated. Then I realised at some point that I really admired the writers I was reading and I wanted to write long form fiction. And I tried it in university and felt that I didn’t have the stamina and solitary nature to thrive as a fiction writer. UI had narrative problems to. I wanted to write comic material but I didn’t want to take responsibility for the narrative point of view. So I had these very cumbersome stories where I’d establish the narrator as not me but some other character, and he narrates the story. And it was very complicating and limiting that form. And I’d kind of given up writing fiction and I just wanted to tell stories in some way and I thought I’d write a script in order to direct a film and had no confidence at all on the writing side of that equation. and then I found that writing comedy scripts, it is first person narration, it is first person voices, it is not me. And so the comedy screenplay form is something that works where I’d failed working in other areas.

(From AnOther, Culture Talks, “Whit Stillman: Damsels: In Distress”, by Simon Jablonski)

QOL: human

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