Question: What was your approach to the special features, on Star Trek and Transformers.
Orci: We tend to sit down and talk very loosely about the experience of making the movie, and the differences are in the way that the movies were made, but not necessarily in the approach to the DVD extras. What’s really cool about the DVD extras is that in both cases they documented the things that we were all doing together from the minute that production starts until the day of release.
Kurtzman: We try to be very open as possible (on the commentaries) and avoid comments like “I remember that day” We grew up having nothing like this at all. For example, there was one screenwriting book when we were growing up. Only one. Now there are dvds, you can go online you can see everything. There is so much out there, I think we feel like “how cool is it for people to actually have the thing that we didn’t have. So we try to give as much to the dvd extras as we can.
Question: Do you find it easier to write dialog for sequels considering you have returning actors such as Shia and Megan Fox, and you already have experience writing for them?
Kurtzman: As in knowing their voices? It’s a huge help, it’s a great thing to have. Like we said, Shia is an incredibly fun actor to work with and he can do dialog at any pace. Not every actor can do that. He really can run through things. Shia has a really good, I’ll call it a cheese alarm. If he thinks something is cheesy or inauthentic, he won’t want to do it. So when we are writing we rely on kind of knowing where his instincts tend to go in terms of scene work and what he likes to do. I think for him he can not act a scene unless he feels the truth somehow. It has to be truthful. Even if it’s a scene about giant robots, there has to be some truth to it. And if there isn’t, then he can’t do it – so that’s very helpful in knowing what to look for in any given scene.
I think Megan was really interesting in the first movie because she was very surprising. There’s a sweetness to her, and now I think that’s what made their relationship dynamic work really well. And I think for us knowing that it (the sequel) was going to be about whether or not the boyfriend that was going off to school and leaving her behind, and whether or not, that relationship could survive. Thinking about how that relationship was going to play out over the course of the movie, was what we needed. We talked to Bay and Megan a lot. We had a couple meetings where we would all sit in a room and we would all talk about the script, and the scenes and we’d rip stuff out. That’s where the actor’s voices become really great because, you’ve been living in your head for so long, and then you bring it to them and you can start rewriting once they get their hands on it. Like Shia and the parents, those kinds of scenes really benefit from the actor’ input. “see dad, that’s how you’re supposed to treat a child leaving for college”
Question: What was the hardest scene for you guys to cut from the script?
Orci: Actually, with Transformers, since they animate the robots after the fact, you can continue playing with their dialog up until the last minute. Scenes can be created after the fact, scenes that weren’t in the original script at all.
Question: How do the two of you work together? Do you have specific roles?
Kurtzman: Our writing is a dialog; it’s a process of debate back and forth. We sit across the table from each other with our computers and we decide what’s the right line…
Orci: And I think that process ended up in the Star Trek script moreso than any other project we’ve done. I think Alex is Kirk, I’m Spock. For Transformers, Alex is both Sam and Bumblebee.
Kurtzman: We write everything together. We might tinker with our own stuff on the side, but we go over every line together, in a room like an office.
Orci: We started writing together, pre-internet, so we’d be on the phone like this (mimes cradling a phone and awkwardly typing) And that’s how we’ve developed our voice. And that voice became the way we still write.
Question: Why aren’t you working on Transformers 3?
Kurtzman: We have been working on Transformers longer than I was in college.
Orci: I think we have a degree in Transformers now. And I think we’ve given it a lot, but…
Kurtzman: The Franchise is so wonderful it deserves to stay fresh.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
ROTF Home Video Roundtable
Last week Paramount Home Video held a press conference with Q&A to promote their upcoming slate of home video releases including Star Trek and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. As a result Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman were on hand to field some questions. Also some members of the voice cast participated including Kevin Michael Richardson (Rampage/Prime #2), Jess Harnell (Ironhide), Mark Ryan (Bumblebee/Jetfire) and more. Below are snippets from the writers with the full transcript and voice actor write-up here.