BlueCat: Why did you start writing screenplays?
Chris Buck: I have written fiction all my life and I loved movies all my life so it was actually surprising how long it took me to write a screenplay. But once my girlfriend told me I should try, I was totally hooked by the idea and since then I have devoted most of my precious writing time to screenplays.
BlueCat: What is your highest screenwriting goal for yourself?
CB: My only goal as a screenwriter is to see my work on screen. That is what I am writing for. Not for fame, not for the money. Actors, directors and producers interpret my screenplay into a motion picture is the most rewarding emotional experience to me. So my goal is simply to see as many of my screenplays become a movie as possible.
If David Fincher ever makes a movie based on one of my scripts I would probably quit my dayjob.
BlueCat: What aspects of the writing process do you struggle with the most?
CB: The Finale. Sometimes I have a clear vision what the end should be like, but when I have none I often spend as much time on my last twenty pages as I do on the rest of the screenplay.
BlueCat: What do you feel you do well as a screenwriter?
CB: Characters and twists, which I feel is something that belongs together. A good twist is often experienced through the eyes of a character we identify with. I feel I have learned over the years to create such relatable and complex characters. I certainly enjoy the art of a good twist. What I think I do best is bringing these two together for the maximum effect.
BlueCat: What movies do you watch to remind yourself that you love screenwriting?
CB: The movies of my youth still dominate my ideas of a perfect screenplay. The Usual Suspects, L.A. Confidential, Left Luggage, Oldboy, In the Name of the Father or The Fugitive are among my many favorites. I re-watch them regularly. But whenever a movie has an especially smart script, I can’t help myself but watch it again and again. Margin Call, The World’s End or The Life of Others triggered such re-watch-limbos for me lately.
BlueCat: Do you feel that screenwriting is different in your country than it is in Hollywood? If so, how?
CB: Screenwriting in Germany is a very different business from what it is in Hollywood. German screenwriters are often not driven by the idea of entertainment or even the financial success of their screenplays as they are on the US market. The dominating aspect of screenwriting in Germany is access to public funding which is the primary source of film financing.
The great advantage of the public funding system is, that screenwriters and filmmakers can bring their vision to life without making compromises to serve commercial interests. The same time the classical genre cinema is almost absent from the German film market as it is less likely to generate the necessary budget through means of public funding and other options of financing are underdeveloped. The public funding system also limits the possibilities of English speaking screenplays, as they are not eligible for German film funding (international co-productions are the sole exception).
Writing in English as a German writer (like I do for example) therefore means aiming at a market outside your own country to get a screenplay produced.
BlueCat: What screenplay have you written which you feel most proud of and why?
CB: I wrote a screenplay called “An Idea of Identity” about a man in a 19th century asylum in Swiss who might or might not be the most famous fictional detective of the world, but has to solve the gruesome murder of a nurse anyway.
I feel that I have created believable characters in it while playing with the idea of a fictional character becoming “real”. That allowed me to deliver a very shocking and unique twist in my third act that I am quite proud of.