Michael Arndt visits to talk about Little Miss Sunshine.
In 2000, screenwriter Michael Arndt had no credits, no agents, no publishing history when he took a year off to write "a saleable script" that got him an agent and a deal and, five years after that, one of the big hits of 2006. A new book, Little Miss Sunshine: The Shooting Script, details the fascinating behind-the-scenes story of the indie runaway hit with an introduction, afterword, and enlightening scene notes from Arndt. Starring Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Abigail Breslin, Paul Dano, and Alan Arkin, the film strikes a nerve with everyone who's ever been awestruck by how their muddled families seem to make it after all. Michael Arndt offers a rare insider's look and considered thoughts on one of the film's most prevalent themes, success vs. failure.
Michael Arndt is an Academy Award-nominated, award-winning screenwriter best known for writing the 2006 film Little Miss Sunshine. Arndt has won awards for best Original Screenplay from Kansas City Film Critics and the Writers Guild.
We have a very special treat for you guys tonight as you all know because you are here.We had all manner of prize winners and nominees but we were discussing we think thismaybe the first ever academy award nominee that we have had at Cody. So we are veryexciting very pleased to have Michael Arndt with us. In 2000, he had no agent he was nota Hollywood name and then he wrote a little screenplay called Little Miss Sunshine andhas been ranking up the nominations and awards including best screenplay and bestmovie for this year's academy award. So without further due I will let you see the manwho you have come here to see. Please welcome Michael Arndt.Hi - thank you everybody for coming out. I really appreciate it. Its it's very flatteringfor me to people to come out and actually look at a screenwriter we're usually hiddenfrom the rest of the world. I guess the first thing we will do is show the clip I mean thatseems like something fun to do. I just just in order to setup the context of the clip theysaid, you know, if we are going to show something you know, you got to to choose itand so this scene you are about to see sort of the climax of the movie and its really thething that I'm most proud of because as a writer I'm a big believer in endings. I think theending of your story is when the meaning of your story is really revealed. But I also thinkthat I just in terms of in setting up the story a good story for me at least always involvesa character right before the climax making this taking at the size of action or making animportant decision and usually you are going to make that decision is difficult aspossible. So what I was trying to do here was to push Olive into this corner where she hasto decide whether she is going to go on and and go on stage or not and at that momentshe sort of she is weighing two sort of value systems. One is her dad who says there isno sense in entering a contest if you don't win or if you don't think you are going to win.And she is already overheard her dad go back and say you know, she there is no wayshe is going to win or you know, I don't want her going on and then on the other shoulderis her grandpa who said you know, we are going to have fun tomorrow, we can tell themall go to hell you know, and also a real loser is someone who doesn't win a real loser issomeone who doesn't try. So its that its you know, just to be didactic about it youknow, you are trying to have your character make a meaningful decision and really pushthem into the corner and I always thought when I started writing this the external stakesof the story which is whether Olive wins the contest or not is about as low as stakes asyou can possibly get, you know, beauty pageant but I wanted to try as a comic strategy tojack up emotional stakes of the story and also the philosophical stakes of the story. Sothat they were absolutely as high as possible so that when she was sitting there and tryingto make this decision as to what she was going to do that you were like a 100 percent ifthey said like this was you know, what this little girl decide to do next was going to be areally really important decision and that you really want to see how it turned out. So itseems to have worked but but in terms of just picking something I mean there is a lot offunny stuff all the way through the movie but I really feel like in terms of writing this iskind of the scene that I'm most proud of. So it will go it won't go all the way to the endThank you so I guess we will just open it up for a Q&A and if anyone has any questions?