СHARACTERS SHOULD DICTATE THE STORY

Кристофер Хемптон
10:11, 29 November 2018

Christopher Hampton is a famous English writer, poet, screenwriter, film director.

The author of more than 20 plays and more than 30 original and adapted scenarios for movies, among which the most known are «Dangerous Liaisons» and «Carrington». Today we managed to talk personally with the playwright and find out where the creation of the play begins, and also what is more important the character or the story.
How did you get the idea of your first script, and who was the first to see it?
– I started to write little plays when I was 8 or 9 years old; my first script was commissioned in 1966, when I sold the film rights of my first performed play.
Where do you find ideas for your work?
– All over the place, unpredictably.
For what do you love your job?
– Being a full-time writer was all I ever wanted to be and is all I've ever done. It's a great privilege to be able to do the work you most want to do.
What's the hardest in your work?
– Rewriting.
From what do you start to work on the script?
– I make notes over several months; then I write the first draft very quickly. In Hollywood, there are two theories – important character and important story. 
What, in your opinion, should be the first?
– In Hollywood there are many theories, most of them idiotic. Character should dictate the story.
How much time do you need to write a script?
– Once I'm ready to start, it takes usually from six to ten weeks. I have written a script in a week and more than once.
How many times did you rewrite it?
– It depends; some more than others. After a few drafts, what one is asked to do is very rarely an improvement.
What is from your point of view a good script? How do you understand that the work was a successful?
– There is no formula; you can't really assess them until the film is finished and you see it with an audience.
Do you take your characters as real friends?
– You have to identify yourself with all your characters no matter how much unpleasant they may be.
How do you usually write all your ideas down? Do you write a draft of the script, or do you write them down in a notebook?
– See above, I take notes over a period of one months and build up the characters and structure of the script.
What are you particularly interested in writing?
– Something different from what I've written before
What is your favorite book and why?
– A la recherche du temps perdu: Proust was my special subject at university, so I read him at a very impressionable age.
If you could meet any great writer from the past, who would you met, and what would you ask?
– Chekhov: the most human of the great writers.
Which of the films shown at the Odessa International Film Festival, made the greatest impression on you and why?
– ILLEGITIM from Romania, a controlled and compact drama, beautifully acted; FROM FUKISHIMA WITH LOVE, very well directed, imaginative and moving.
What are you working at now?
– I've just finished a screenplay called DALILA about a young Kenyan asylum-seeker, trying to find sanctuary in Britain at this difficult time in our history.
Do you want to write a sequel to any of your films?
– No.
What advice would you give to young writers?
– Don't do it unless you feel you absolutely have to. It's not such an easy life, despite its many satisfactions.
And one more question, say a few words about the film «Ali and Nino», how did the idea to write a script to it appeared and what difficulties have arisen in the process?
– As to ALI AND NINO, the producer, Kris Thykier, sent me the novel and I fell in love with it. It became a very important project to me – and in the end I'm not sure if we were able to do justice to this unusual and great novel. Filming in Azerbaijan was extremely difficult, the weather was against us, the budget was tight – and in the end, for time reasons, we weren't able to film about 20% of the script. I think the film is the best we could do in those circumstances, but, as you can tell, I wasn't entirely happy with my work on it.
Author:  Anastasia Kholdakovskaya