One of the most frustrating thing about listening to artists talk about their work is their insistence on the tremendous fallacy that anyone can do this sort of work. It’s one of those staple lines that directors, producers, screenwriters, and most creatives that currently work in Hollywood use more to try to remind the world and themselves that they’re an ordinary person at the end of the day than spread hope and inspiration. And they almost never bring up the dark specters of luck and connections, which are both required in bulk to have any sort of long-term career in the business.
Still, if I was going to believe anyone who says such nonsense in a public forum, it would be Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the writer-director duo behind 21 Jump Street, The LEGO Movie, and that intensely anticipated Han Solo movie. Lord and Miller have been making a lot of good decisions over the last few years and their undeniable comic abilities have made them a hot commodity in both TV and movies. That’s probably the reason why BAFTA asked them to give one of their famous lectures during a series of talks, which also included a discussion with director Park Chan-wook that is rich in wisdom and humor.
Despite the South Korean helmer’s warm words, Lord and Miller were clearly the showman here and listening to them speak about their work and their own experiences in the business is both hugely informative and riotously funny. They speak candidly about their first day on set for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and how scared they were, and there are crucial discussions about collaboration, the torture of never being satisfied by your own work, and the reality of writing a screenplay that bosses want to read. All of this is done with the diptych’s customary mix of self-deprecation and what sounds like quite a lot of sight and physical gags. You can’t see those but you can listen to their entire lecture via BAFTA’s Soundcloud right below. Listen carefully, and you’ll be at once inspired and aware of the constant feeling of failure that comes with this oft-cited dream job.
Here’s the audio from the lecture: