Since breaking out in Superbad as a comedy performer of startling vitality, Jonah Hill has transitioned into all kinds of interesting avenues in his career, from Oscar-nominated turns in films like Moneyball and The Wolf of Wall Street to screenwriting turns in comedies like 21 Jump Street and Sausage Party. Hill made his feature directorial debut with the personal indie mid90s. And, based on an Instagram video he just posted, he’s got plenty more films coming — all written from the safety of his home. Wanna know how he does it? He’s got some advice.
Made in partnership with Adidas, in advocacy of the #hometeam movement that profiles folks maintaining creative and productive lifestyles during self-quarantining, Hill’s video starts with a promise: “I am spending this time creating… My weapons of choice are very simple: Notecard, pen, cardboard, thoughts. That’s it. I am writing movies during this time.” Frankly, it’s unfair of Hill to lay out the writing process that barely — it can’t be that simple! If it was that simple, it wouldn’t take me a hundred years to write this very article to check Twitter every three seconds! Right? Isn’t there some secret?
Well, not really. But Hill does get into the nitty-gritty of how he structures his movies, including one trick I am absolutely stealing from here on out. Hill, like many writers, blocks off the three acts of his screenplays into scene descriptions written on notecards on cardboard stands. But then he has one blank cardboard stand. What does he call it, and what’s its purpose? The answer to both questions is identical, and Hill’s “favorite part”: The Flavor Bin. It’s “where you take all of your crazy ideas, you put ’em on the flavor bin, and you see where they fit within your story.” It’s a wonderful idea to give your project a sense of unpredictability, and retain its spontaneity within the planned out structure.