From Judd Apatow's MasterClass

Workshopping Scripts, Part 2

Everything in screenwriting is about rewriting. Judd examines the fundamental role that rewrites have played in his projects and how he refines his work until the picture is locked.

Topics include: Cast Your Table Reads Carefully • Rewriting Bridesmaids • Writing Doesn't Stop Until the Movie Is Locked

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Everything in screenwriting is about rewriting. Judd examines the fundamental role that rewrites have played in his projects and how he refines his work until the picture is locked.

Topics include: Cast Your Table Reads Carefully • Rewriting Bridesmaids • Writing Doesn't Stop Until the Movie Is Locked

Judd Apatow

Teaches Comedy

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Preview

Table readings are very helpful. A lot of it is about casting. Every once in a while, you cast the wrong person. And it can completely change how your script reads. And you might decide you hate your script because you cast the wrong person at your table read. Or a whole section doesn't work 'cause you happen to have miscast something. So there is some danger in it. I remember we once did a-- a table read for Walk Hard. And the dad was supposed to be very loud, and yell at John C. Reilly's Johnny-Cash-like character, and say "The wrong kid died!" About the fact that Dewey Cox's brother died when he was a kid. And we did a table read. And we had a very famous actor read the dad. And every time he was supposed to yell, he would go, (FLATLY) "Wrong kid died." And we were like, what is happening? [LAUGHS] And he was like, (FLATLY) "Yeah, wrong kid died." And it ruined massive movements of the table read. And-- and the whole table read started collapsing because it didn't have this manic anger that was supposed to drive this character. And-- and so you have to also be careful. Because you know, sometimes somebody um, you know, doesn't actualize-- is that the word? You know, doesn't perform it the way you envisioned it. And-- and then you don't want to toss it all out because it was read wrong. That's the difficult part about it, is sometimes a part only works when you have perfect casting. When we were casting Superbad, we knew early on that we wanted Michael Cera to be one of the two leads. And then we needed to find somebody as good as Michael Cera. Which we found to be almost impossible, and read 100 people. And no one was as funny as Michael Cera. Because no one on earth is basically as funny as Michael Cera. And then one day, we were on the set of Knocked Up, and Jonah was there. And we had always thought Jonah was too old for the part. Because Michael Cera was 18. And maybe Jonah was 22, or 23. And-- and then, we just said, all right, Jonah, go shave really well and videotape yourself doing this part. And then it became so obvious that it should be Jonah. And that's an interesting part of it, is it was the exact same words. And with other people, it was just bombing. But with Jonah, it was riotously funny. So you know, everything has to be handled perfectly, or comedy collapses. It's like if you-- if you asked someone else to be Groucho Marx, in a Marx Brothers movie, you'd be like, what is that? That's awful. Because really, only one guy can do it sometimes. Everything about screenwriting is about the rewrites. So you could bang out a draft. But really, it's going to become amazing through these revisions. And sometimes it doesn't feel like it's working at all. And then you crack something that changes everything. So for many years, Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo were writing drafts of Bridesmaids. But for a long time, the drafts weren't where they needed to be. And one of the issues was that K...

Get serious about comedy

No joke: at age 15, Judd Apatow took a dishwashing job at a comedy club to watch the acts. Today, he’s the comedic genius behind hits including The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Bridesmaids, and Freaks and Geeks. In his first-ever online comedy class, the Emmy Award winner teaches you how to create hilarious storylines, write great stand-up, and direct movies that leave audiences laughing.

Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I just wanted to hear Judd talk about his experience. He was great. Can't wait until his next movie comes out.

Judd’s perspective and anecdotes of the lessons learned over his career are at the same time encouraging and sobering. Really learned a lot absolutely it the practical cal side of the business.

This was a really interesting masterclass - practical and philosophical in equal measure - oops can't write any more - must go and write some jokes...

It has already lifted my inspiration and I have been writing up a storm. Thanks for all the leads on research and industry wisdom.

Comments

Maureen K.

About rewriting: I always thought one would need to get all jokes right, before shooting, but this lesson taught me that rewriting is 'normal', which I found very helpful. Perhaps as a writer, you could even decide to make some jokes togtether with the actors, instead of writing them for them. Well, just wondering. Very helpful lesson! And also great to learn Bridesmaids wasn't written over night...(my favourite movie)

Heather W.

Rewrites: I know from watching the background material on the Lord of the Rings movies that the actors said they were getting reworked scripts daily from the writers. Makes sense... you see something you're shooting isn't quite working, then try to fix it immediately...

Billy R.

I wonder how often writers begin to write, maybe a little aimlessly, and then have to go back in and find a stronger theme? I think I'm guilty of that as well. But I'm wondering if that's a rarity, or if it happens on like half of all scripts. How does a writer get sharper on immediately knowing the theme?

Kathy M.

Very interesting; he gets coverage for the option of making a scene serious or funny. I love the outtakes from Train wreck where he feeds Lebron James his lines to Amy. Pee your pants funny. He had a lot to work with when it came to editing. Veep is a series you have to watch again to get all the jokes. They come so fast — often just a one liner aside— you miss them the first time. Ten writers behind the camera is a good thing.