Talk:Chris Terrio: A Biography of the Director and Academy Award Winning Screenwriter

From Researchandideas
Jump to: navigation, search

This page will be used to discuss issues regarding the the biography of Chris Terrio and to bookmark pieces of information about Terrio that do not fit into the main biography.

Contents

Chronology of Ben Affleck's Involvement with the Argo Script

There are some issues in the biography regarding the chronology on Ben Affleck's involvement with the script:

Jenna Milly wrote at Screenwriting U on October 7, 2012 that:
Riddled with self-doubt, the budding screenwriter had a supportive team around him who wouldn’t let him give up. He started working on the script, and then one day when he was down 14th Street in New York City, he received a call on his cell phone from Ben Affleck. He thought it was a joke at first, but when Affleck started talking about his passion for directing the movie, Terrio knew it was the moment of a lifetime. Working with Affleck on the phone and out of his house in Los Angeles, the two came up with a film set in Washington D.C., Hollywood, California, and Tehran, Iran. That’s quite the geo-political thriller[1].
Ben Affleck stated in an interview at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on June 14, 2013 that:
Yeah they hired Nina Wolarsky at Smokehouse who found the “Escape from Tehran” Article, and then hired Chris Terrio to write a story from the magazine article about what happened. Chris wrote it under the guidance of Clooney and Heslov and when they finished they sent it to me and asked if I would be interested in doing this. I got about halfway in and I thought, “I want to run over to their offices right now,” because I knew that this was the movie for me without a doubt.[2]

Month by Month Chronology

I need to map out a month by month chronology of the following events:

  1. Clooney and Heslov contract with Nina Wolarsky at Smokehouse to find a screenwriter
  2. Nina Wolarsky contacts Terrio about doing a treatment - November 2008
  3. Terrio does a one or two page treatment
  4. Terrio writes a thrity page treatment
  5. Terrio under contract with Smokehouse or with Clooney and Heslov?
  6. Terrio does nine months of research
  7. Terrio goes to a friends house in upstate New York and writes the first draft of the screenplay in a couple of weeks
  8. Terrio turns in his first draft
  9. Clooney and Heslov contact Affleck and tell him they've got a script they want him to see
  10. Affleck blown away by how good the script is
  11. Affleck call Terrio tells him his movie is going to be produced

Growing Up

Need to expand Terrio's early life and what sparked his interest in writing. What was the genesis of Terrio's worldview that the "real and the really false, make-believe and belief-made, were distinctions which held no meaning for me as a boy." There are some clues but like to know more about what to it was like to grow up on Staten Island in the 1970's and 1980's:


"I was born in New York and every day rode the Staten Island ferry so my dream job was to be out on the water all day doing something that felt like it had some tangible reality," said Terrio.[3]

"The real and the really false, make-believe and belief-made, were distinctions which held no meaning for me as a boy," Terrio wrote in his application essay. "In college, my academic passion has been, through literature, to explore those processes which construct and re-make our experience of the actual world."[4]

"There’s a scene in the film that’s taken right out of what Tony told me, which is when Tony Mendez takes off his wedding ring and puts it down on the dresser before he heads off to Tehran, which was kind of a ritual Tony always did," says Terrio. "He would quietly sort of take off his wedding ring, always put it in the same little bowl, and then he’d go off assuming a new identity. In that same shot of the film, you see a photograph of a little boy, and that is Ian Mendez, Tony’s real son."[5] Tony’s motivation, throughout his hero’s journey, was always to get back home and the last scene in the film ties it all together. “I knew that I wanted to get to a place where you could have that last scene with Tony and Ian in the bedroom, after watching Tony blown this way and that throughout the movie.”[6][7] "He is Odysseus ...and in the end he has to come home. Tony finally getting home to his son is the emotional core of the movie."[8]

"I knew that I wanted to get to a place where you could have that last scene with Tony and Ian in the bedroom, after watching Tony blown this way and that throughout the movie." The room is chockful of science fiction paraphenalia - Star Wars sheets and millenium Falcons - just as Terrio's room was decorated when he was a child. Affleck's too. "That was probably the other really moving moment to me on the set," says Terrio: seeing their childhood rooms through the monitor. Not that it made anyone cry or anything.[9]

Random Family

Need to expand the section on Random Family which plays a pivotal role in Terrio's writing career. Random Family is the film project that is closest to Terrio's heart and the film he wanted to make after Heights. At one point Terrio envisioned a five film series about each of the boroughs of New York City and Random Family was to have been the first in the series. At another point, it looked like HBO was going to make a mini-series out of the screenplay. Other questions about Random Family include: How was Terrio able to afford the rights to write a screenplay about Random Familywhen he was broke after he directed Heights? What is Terrio's working relationship with MacArthur "genius" award winner Adrian Nicole LeBlanc? LeBlanc's history seems to parallel Terrio's to some extent. LeBlanc has a a Master of Philosophy and Modern Literature at Oxford University in 1988 while Terrio studied Modern Literature at Cambridge 10 years later. LeBlanc quit her job at Seventeen and spent the better part of the next twelve years working on the book, going through two agents, two publishers, and five editors. Terrio did something similar quitting directing for almost ten years when he lived in poverty writing his spec screenplays.


In 2005 Terrio began writing the screenplay “Random Family”[10] based on reporter Adrian Nicole LeBlanc’s decade-long study of a struggling multigenerational family in the South Bronx, teens and the drug trade.[11] Cindy Adams wrote in the New York Post that Terrio originally planned a five DVD box set about the five boroughs of New York City with one movie each about the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island.[12] Random Family, inspired by City of God directed by Fernando Meirelles and co-directed by Kátia Lund, was to have been the first in the series.[13]

Speaking at "La Alianza" in Montevideo in April, 2013 Terrio said that if he could choose one of his unproduced scripts to turn into a film, it would be Random Family. "There is a small script about the Bronx that I have wanted to do for years which is about the drug wars and women in poverty and if somebody said tomorrow you get to make one film it would be that Bronx film. But it's very hard. The one thing that Hollywood insists upon is that you need a star. And if you are making a movie about 16 year old girls in the Bronx, there is no star who can raise the money. That is a big problem in Hollywood. Unless you have a character who can be played by a big star like Ben Affleck or George Clooney or Meryl Streep or Jennifer Lawrence, there is no economic model. On HBO maybe. HBO can takes chances and make films without stars but the economics of film are really hard."[14] Part of the problem is that private financiers who once were willing to put money into any project amid the 1990s independent-film boom are becoming more gun-shy. "Most of my experience was from independent investors," said Terrio in 2006. "It seems now that they're a lot more savvy about what names equal at the box office."[15]

Emmy-winner Phil Rosenthal ("Everybody Loves Raymond") has lined up three projects at the pay channel - a comedy, a drama and a original movie. Next is "Random Family," a drama based on the nonfiction book of the same name by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc and revolves around a multigenerational family in the South Bronx. LeBlanc and Chris Terrio likewise are writing the script and co-executive producing with Rosenthal and Neal Gabler serving as executive producers.[16]

Views on Political Figures

Need to incorporate some of Terrio's views on political figures into the bio:

Recently, Maureen Dowd and others have written about Obama as an introvert. Whereas [President] Clinton would go down to the lobby and schmooze every guy and buy them a drink until 2 in the morning, Obama would take stock of the room and then go back upstairs to his hotel room and close the door. And there's something very interesting to me about a guy who can dazzle 40,000 people in a stadium but internally is a very shy, maybe even dark type of guy. Maybe it's not a movie; maybe it's a play or a haiku, but there's something interesting about that character to me.[17]

Views on Geopolitics

Need to incorporate some of Terrio's views on the role of the CIA and geopolitics:


In Argo, it would be very easy to depict the Iranians as just these nameless people out there who vaguely want to kill you. We had no interest in doing that, so right from the beginning, Ben Affleck and I talked about how we had to have some context for what was going on in Iranian society, that you had to understand this isn't just a generic image of what we think of as "the Arab street." You need to understand the source of the rage.[18]

"There’s a very complicated post-colonial history involving the US and the UK and lots of other countries in Iran, and while we’d never try to justify the taking of hostages it was important for us at the beginning of the film to say “There was Mosaddeq, and the history of this starts in 1952.” Somebody said ‘For Americans this crisis starts in 1979 but for Iranians it started in 1952.” We have to be aware of all of that context."[19]

"We had to unapologetically say “We’re making an American film, we’re not making an Iranian film” so there always were going to be moments where the revolutionaries are the antagonists. You have to get a sense of the danger of any revolution, where there are guys with automatic weapons in the street who will kill you. We had to look that in the face and say there are going to be extremists in the movie, but there are also going to be people caught up in the tides of history. You’re going to see people standing at the gate with pictures of their dead children murdered by the Shah, you’ll have some sense of the history of Iran, even within the thriller aspects of the film. Within the set-up of bad guys with guns and good guys trying to escape them you’ll understand that there is a relativism."[20]

Views on the CIA

Need to incorporate Terrio's views on the CIA:

"Between 2000 and when I was writing the script in 2008, both the UK and US had been through a very dark period of foreign policy. The vampire squids of the military and governments probably were doing a lot of things they shouldn’t, where they were shooting first and asking questions later, or doing things that were not moments that we could be proud of. Looking at parallels between the present and the time period of Argo I found a CIA moment where, when the escape happens, you can genuinely be proud. Through hustle, creativity and intelligence we managed to pull off a success, managed to solve a big geopolitical crisis that could have erupted volcanically and did it peacefully and smartly."[21]

Views on Religion

Terrio attended Catholic school for 12 years and has strong opinions about the Catholic Church and the new Pope:


Sin embargo, el cine no es la única fuente de curiosidad para este flamante ganador del Oscar que se crió en un colegio católico y que admite que es muy difícil que “alguien que haya recibido educación religiosa no posea un cierto sentido de la divinidad”. Pero, ¿qué piensa Terrio sobre el Papa argentino? Aunque su entusiasmo no es absoluto, está contento porque Bergoglio es “el primer Papa de las Américas”, porque pertenece a la Compañía de Jesús y porque, “aunque deberá demostrarlo con hechos, la óptica de Bergoglio es positiva”. ¿En qué sentido? Al aclararlo, el estadounidense no podría ser más explícito. “En el sentido de que se preocupa por los pobres, algo que Ratzinger ni siquiera se molestaba en aparentar”, dijo en Montevideo, la misma ciudad en la que, aseguró, se referiría por última vez en forma pública a “Argo”. P.C.[22]

[Google Translation]However, the film is not the only source of curiosity for this brand new Oscar winner who grew up in a Catholic school and admits that it is unlikely that "someone who has received religious education does not have a sense of divinity". But what Terrio think about the new Argentine Pope? While his enthusiasm is not absolute, Terrio is happy because Bergoglio is "the first pope of the Americas", because it belongs to the Jesuits and because "although must prove it with facts, my first view of Bergoglio is positive." In what sense? To clarify, Terrio could not be more explicit. "In the sense that he cares for the poor, something that Ratzinger did not even bother to pretend," Terrio said in Montevideo, the same city in which he said he would address himself in public for the last time about Argo.[23]

Dates for Writing Early Plays

There is some ambiguity and conflicting information as to when Terrio wrote his early plays and in what order: Ten Unknowns, Baltimore, Random Family, The Ends of the Earth. It appears that his screenplay for Random Family got him the contract with Hart-Sharp Entertainment. There he was commissioned to write a script for Ten Unknowns. Baltimore and The Ends of the Earth do not appear to be part of his deal with Hart-Sharp Entertainment. Need a better chronology for the early plays.

Something doesn't add up with the demise of Hart-Sharp Entertainment either. The production company dissolved in February,2 007 - an event that had been expected for months. In an interview with David Poland, Terrio said that he was still working with them in 2008. Need to check these dates.

Did Ben Affleck Find Argo on the Black List?

Joel Schoenmann writes in the Las Vegas Sun in a profile of Franklin Leonard, that Leonard said that "“Chris Terrio, who wrote ‘Argo,’ has said publicly that Ben Affleck found the script because it was on the list.”

This contradicts completely the true story of Argo which I left as the following comment to the article:


There is at least one major factual error in this story.

Joel Schoenmann writes in the Las Vegas Sun in a profile of Franklin Leonard, that Leonard said that "“Chris Terrio, who wrote ‘Argo,’ has said publicly that Ben Affleck found the script because it was on the list.”

This is factually incorrect. Affleck did not find the script for Argo on the blacklist and Terrio never said he did.

Here is the story of the screenplay for Argo.

In 2007 Joshuah Bearman had written an original piece that appeared in Wired about how the CIA used a fake Sci-Fi movie to rescue Americans from Iran. George Clooney's production company had acquired the screen rights to the article and Clooney was going to write the screenplay as well as direct it and star in it. "I was all for that," said Berman. "I loved Good Night, and Good Luck. I thought, "This guy knows what he's doing." But Clooney was too busy to write the screenplay. That's where Nina Wolansky, now a development agent for Smokestack came in.[24] "[Wolarsky] remembered me as, I guess, the crazy guy who writes weird, independent spec scripts in New York – two of them had been very different period things – I think she thought of me for Argo," said Terrio. "So they came and said, “there’s this incident we want to make a movie about, we don’t quite know what the tone is, but here’s this article about it, etc. Do you have a take on what it would be?”[25] "So I sort of wrote a – and here’s where the spec part comes in – I wrote a long proposal of what I would do with it. At the time I don’t know whether they knew whether it was Men Who Stare at Goats, or it was Syriana, or whether it was The Player, or whether it was all of them, so I came to them with a long – I’ve recently looked back at it - about 25 page novella of what Argo would be."[26] Terrio's approach impressed George Clooney and Producer Grant Heslov at Smoke House. “We met with some writers and Chris Terrio’s take was right in line with the way we saw the film,” says Heslov.[27] Terrio received the commission from Clooney and Heslov to write the screenplay for Argo in early 2009 and he spent a year hammering out the first draft.[28]

In early 2011 Ben Affleck got involved with the project.[29] Affleck says that his involvement with the project came after Clooney and Heslov hired Nina Wolarsky at Smokehouse who found the “Escape from Tehran” Article, and then hired Chris Terrio to write a story from the magazine article about what happened. "Chris wrote it under the guidance of Clooney and Heslov and when they finished they sent it to me and asked if I would be interested in doing this. I got about halfway in and I thought, “I want to run over to their offices right now,” because I knew that this was the movie for me without a doubt."[30]

When Affleck first saw the script for Argo, he couldn't believe how good it was. "They said, 'This is our best script,' and I thought that was some executive hyping me on it, but it really was pretty incredible. I was amazed," said Affleck. "I talked to Grant and George and said, 'Look, I really want to do this. This is amazing!' And they said, 'Okay, great! Let’s do it!' So, we took it to Warner Bros. And then, I went back and talked to Chris [Terrio] and said, 'How did you do this?' I looked at some documentaries and read some books and thought, 'God, this is really unwieldy. It felt like it should have been a 10-hour mini-series. How did you get that down into a three-act structure?'"[31] Affleck wanted to push the thriller aspect of the movie more and initially, Affleck had envisioned reworking the script himself, but the draft was so impressive and his relationship with Terrio so good that he allowed Terrio to make the changes. Affleck and Terrio also worked on redefining Affleck's character, based on Mendez. "He was a little bit more broken in the draft that we got," says Affleck. "He was older, an alcoholic. And I changed that and made his personal stuff revolve more around his family and losing his marriage." Ultimately, Affleck says, that was "the wrong choice because I ended up cutting most of it out. I cut out six or seven minutes from the final film, which is a lot."[32]


Action Taken: Posted a letter to the editor at "Joe Downtown: Tony Hsieh begins writing-publishing push with Hollywood screenwriters workshop downtown"

References

  1. Screenwriting U. "Interview: ARGO Screenwriter Chris Terrio" by Jenna Milly. October 7, 2012.
  2. Santa Barbara International Film Festival. "Argo Q&A" June 14, 2013.
  3. Hollywood Reporter. "The Writers: Full Uncensored Interview" November 15, 2012.
  4. Harvard University Gazette. "New Scholarship Brings Harvard-Cambridge Total to Four" by Susan Peterson. February 27, 1997.
  5. WSJ. "How Oscar Nominee ‘Argo’ Escaped the Black List" by Barbara Chai. February 15, 2013.
  6. My Digital Publication. "You Can’t Make This Stuff Up" by Lisa Rosen. January 2013.
  7. DP/30. "An Interview with Chris Terrio" by David Poland. December 2012.
  8. The Wrap. "Ben Affleck & Chris Terrio Dissect 'Argo' - and Defend Some Untruths" by Steve Pond.
  9. My Digital Publication. "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" by Lisa Rosen.
  10. Efilm Critic. "Interview: Elizabeth Banks and Chris Terrio-Reaching for new career 'Heights'" by Peter Sobczynski. June 24, 2005.
  11. Variety. "10 Screenwriters to Watch 2012: Chris Terrio" by Peter Debruge. November 29, 2012.
  12. New York Post. "View of Wonderous Heights" by Cindy Adams. June 16, 2005.
  13. New York Post. "View of Wonderous Heights" by Cindy Adams. June 16, 2005.
  14. YouTube. "Chris Terrio at the Alianza Part 4"
  15. Backstage. "During the height of the studios' golden age, MGM" by Gregg Goldstein. January 19, 2006.
  16. The Futon Critic. "Development Update: Friday, January 16, 2009"
  17. Hollywood Reporter. "THR's Writer Roundtable: Osama bin Laden, Why 'Schindler's List' Is Irresponsible and When Judd Apatow Was a Dishwasher" by Matthew Belloni, Stephen Galloway. November 14, 2012.
  18. Hollywood Reporter. "THR's Writer Roundtable: Osama bin Laden, Why 'Schindler's List' Is Irresponsible and When Judd Apatow Was a Dishwasher" by Matthew Belloni, Stephen Galloway. November 14, 2012.
  19. Bleeding Cool. "Discussing The Sympathy And Subtext Of Argo With Oscar Winning Screenwriter Chris Terrio" by Brendan Connelly. March 4, 2013.
  20. Bleeding Cool. "Discussing The Sympathy And Subtext Of Argo With Oscar Winning Screenwriter Chris Terrio" by Brendan Connelly. March 4, 2013.
  21. Bleeding Cool. "Discussing The Sympathy And Subtext Of Argo With Oscar Winning Screenwriter Chris Terrio" by Brendan Connelly. March 4, 2013.
  22. Revista de Culture. "De proyectos y divinidades" July 12, 2013.
  23. Revista de Culture. "De proyectos y divinidades" July 12, 2013.
  24. The Atlantic Wire. "'It Was So Insane It Had to Feel Real': The Other Man Behind 'Argo' Speaks" An interview with Joshuah Bearman by Richard Lawson. February 22, 2013.
  25. Hey Guys! "HeyUGuys Interview: Argo Screenwriter Chris Terrio on Striking a Balance Between Reality & Drama" by Ben Mortimer. February 22, 2013.
  26. Hey Guys! "HeyUGuys Interview: Argo Screenwriter Chris Terrio on Striking a Balance Between Reality & Drama" by Ben Mortimer. February 22, 2013.
  27. Screen Daily. "Argo: A taste of the old school" by Jeremy Kay. February 1, 2013.
  28. Screen Daily. "Argo: A taste of the old school" by Jeremy Kay. February 1, 2013.
  29. WNYC. "Chris Terrio on Writing the "Argo" Screenplay"
  30. Santa Barbara International Film Festival. "Argo Q&A" June 14, 2013.
  31. Collider. "Ben Affleck, Screenwriter Chris Terrio and Producer Grant Heslov Talk ARGO, George Clooney’s Input on the Production, Challenging Scenes and Oscar Buzz" by Christina Radish. October 8, 2012.
  32. Hollywood Reporter. "THR Cover: Confessions of Ben Affleck" by Stephen Galloway. October 10, 2012.
Personal tools