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Charlie Kaufman Confirms That Next Directorial Effort 'Frank Or Francis' Is A Full-On Musical

The Playlist By Ryan Sartor | The Playlist December 20, 2011 at 11:00AM

When a screenwriter is admired, it is often based on how well he or she can construct a story (Robert Towne, William Goldman) or write dialogue (Aaron Sorkin, David Mamet), but Charlie Kaufman is the rare screenwriter who is revered for the strength of his ideas. He certainly feels like the first writing auteur, and it’s appropriate that he began directing his own scripts with 2008’s "Synecdoche, New York" (That’s not to disparage the great films Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry made out of Kaufman scripts, although as far as “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” goes, the less said, the better. Director George Clooney and Kaufman infamously butted heads over that film.)
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Charlie Kaufman Frank Francis

When a screenwriter is admired, it is often based on how well he or she can construct a story (Robert Towne,  William Goldman) or write dialogue (Aaron Sorkin, David Mamet), but Charlie Kaufman is the rare screenwriter who is revered for the strength of his ideas. He certainly feels like the first writing auteur, and it’s appropriate that he began directing his own scripts with 2008’s "Synecdoche, New York" (That’s not to disparage the great films Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry made out of Kaufman scripts, although as far as “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” goes, the less said, the better. Director George Clooney and Kaufman infamously butted heads over that film.)

Kaufman is gearing up for his second directorial effort, “Frank or Francis,” a movie which the Oscar-winning screenwriter has described as being about “online film criticism” in the “broadest possible sense.” We also knew that Steve Carell, Nicolas Cage, and Jack Black are attached to the film. But, in a recent BAFTA Screenwriters Lecture, Kaufman gave a truly inspiring/gloriously uncommon speech about writing, explaining that it was the first speech he’d ever given. In addition to discussing screenwriting in general, Kaufman revealed that ‘Frank or Francis’ is an all-out musical, not a film with musical elements, as had been previously reported. Kaufman said, “I always try to do something different, but I’m a person with a very specific existence and a very specific background… This thing that I just wrote that will hopefully get made is a musical, and I’ve never done that before, so I did it.”

We read the script in September and described it as “a deliciously good and contemptuous (though self-aware) screed/send-up of the film industry.” In Kaufman’s lecture, he says about the writing process, “Let’s not worry about failure. Failure is a badge of honor. It means you risked failure.”

It’s a great lecture and is worth checking out for anyone trying to create art. As for ‘Frank or Francis,’ we were hoping it might make it before the end of next year, but with filming yet to start, 2013 is looking more likely at this point. Expect something very different

This article is related to: Charlie Kaufman, Frank Or Francis


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