You Say Synecdoche: Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York | GreenCine
[I have.] With the writing process featured heavily as an element in Adaptation and SNY, what is your particular process? [You suspect he doesn't but ask anyway.] Do you use notecards...
I don't. I have an idea of where it's starting and I have an idea of things I'm interested in exploring. By "things" I mean "themes" or "life issues" or a particular character trait and then I write. By "writing" I mean that I take notes and I think about the script for a very long time but, by the time I'm writing the script, I'm writing it without an outline. I try to let it become expansive. In the process of writing, I am open to the process of discovery. If I'm thinking about death and I come up with a concept on page 30 that intrigues me, I want the movie to be open to going there. I don't want to say, "Well, I have an outline and it has to go here." I'll let it be what it wants to be and then I'll go back to the beginning and put in what needs to be put in to allow what happens on page 30 to exist properly in this continuum. In that sense, it takes me quite a while to write but it also makes it about something for me. It's about an exploration. I wouldn't want to go in writing anything knowing what it was going to end up being. What I know at the beginning of a process is very different from what I know at the end of a process.
Specifically, I find the act of writing or creating another world intriguing and I try to analyze why. To a certain extent, it's part of the process of being alive in the world. We do that constantly. It's not just for writers or filmmakers or theater directors. We constantly take this information and organize it. We constantly tell stories about ourselves. We put our lives in the context of a story, which it really isn't. It's really a subjective, human thing to do - to tell stories about the people that we meet and how we fit in with them. To me, it's a larger thing than a thing about writing or about directing or about the artistic process. It's more about what the interior process of being a human being is, for me.
... I'm really interested in chaos. You're often told by writing teachers that you should write from a distance. You're told that you should write about something that happened ten years ago because that's the only way that you can really understand it.To give it perspective.
But I think that "perspective" is storytelling. It's a lie! The reality, when you're in it, is a very interesting moment. That moment involves confusion. I try to be in the moment when I'm writing rather than at a distance. I think that's the truth. It's life. It always where we are. The other stuff is never where we are. When I'm going through something really serious - some sort of depression or some kind of serious problem - there's always a pre-verbal kind of reaction that I have to it. The way that I know that it's over is when I can start talking about it. I want to be in that moment as a writer. As a film writer, it's especially important. Obviously there is a talking element to movies but there are other elements as well. Things that you can explore that don't involve dialogue - lighting and sets and movement and all of that stuff that can enter into that realm of the non-verbal.
... Now, at this point, I'm trying to start on a new project because I'm done with this. It was my only job for the last five years and I need to have a job! I need to pay my mortgage and the economy is falling apart! What's the world going to be like in two years when I'm done with my next script? Is anyone going to want it? Is anyone going to buy it? Do I even want to put it out there because people have been so mean? A million stupid things are paralyzing me from writing. But it's what I like to do! I like to put something in the world that I feel is honest from my vantage point. That's the kind of decent thing to do in the world. To give people what you think is honest because, otherwise, you might as well be selling soap. In fact, you are selling soap! I don't want to do that. I'm not in that business. I've got to just jump into something and make it about what I'm interested in again. But there's pause. There's always pause at this point.
...I use voice-over a lot and, in this movie, I decided that I wasn't going to use it from the character's perspective. I decided to take his internal existence and put it outside, which is why the movie moves the way it does. It's why there is kind of a dream-like quality to it. How do you do an interior story in a movie without voice-over? I feel like the voice-over in this movie, because it's coming externally - and, in some cases, it's almost pretending to be his voice-over but it isn't - I find that really fascinating. I like that contradiction. It's a different way of using voice-over. I felt like I wasn't going back to the well!