Interview with Gordy Hoffman: screenwriter of Love Liza, director of the feature A Coat of Snow, USC cinema professor, & the founder of the BlueCat Screenplay Competition (& the brother of an actor you may have heard of).
Sujewa: Hi Gordy, thanks for taking some time out for this interview. In your 2005 Locarno Film Festival selected feature A Coat of Snow you did not use professional camera operators. Why did you do that? How were the results? How did the audiences, including reviewers & critics, respond to the cinematography of that movie?
Gordy: By having the actors carry the camera, the story was decidedly more emotionally authentic. They did a great job. We did have a great cinematographer, Dave McFarland, who chose locations with existing light. We have an amazingly well lit movie for one shot with our parameters of camera and budget. Some audience members do get sick!
Sujewa: What is the current status of A Coat of Snow? More festivals or other screenings coming up? Theatrical? TV? DVD availability?
Gordy: We have no distribution, but we have a few more screenings this year, Denver, Boston perhaps. We’re wrapping it up.
Sujewa: I want to check out the movie when I get a chance - maybe at a festival, screening or eventually on DVD. On to the BlueCat Screenplay Contest, how did that get started?
Gordy: BlueCat was started in 1998, back in the Bronze Age of screenplay contests. As a writer who had submitted to a few competitions, I wanted to start my own from the perspective of what I wanted out of a competition. This sentiment drives the mission of BlueCat to this day.
Sujewa: Does it feel strange to be a screenwriter yourself & also produce a screenwriting contest? Do you get involved in picking winners?
Gordy: I pick the winners. It doesn’t feel strange at all. You wouldn’t want a lawyer judging your screenplay, would you? I love judging the contest as it teaches me and teaches me. It’s very rewarding reading the special scripts.
Sujewa: Have the careers of previous BlueCat winners been positively affected by participation in BlueCat? Or, what are they up to now - have any of the scripts been produced?
Gordy: Our 2005 winner, GARY THE TENNIS COACH, recently wrapped shooting in Austin, directed by Gary Leiner and starring Seann William Scott. It will be in theaters this year. Two years ago, it was a file sitting in a harddrive in Nebraska. Then they submitted it to BlueCat. Now, our 2006 winner, HYUNG’S OVERTURE, is in pre-production.
Sujewa: On your resume it says that you spent some time in my current stomping grounds - Washington "City of Luv" D.C. Can you talk about your DC days? Or was it too traumatic to revisit?
Gordy: I love DC. I just went back for a screenwriting conference, I hope to screen A COAT OF SNOW at the DC Independent Film Festival. I wrote my first play in DC, in Adams Morgan. This is where I first wrote dialogue.
Sujewa: Is your brother (Philip Seymour Hoffman) constantly bugging you to let him act in your movies? :)
Gordy: We try to be brothers, and let everyone else do the bugging.
Sujewa: And now, the easy/non-film industry related question; in 4 parts: how do you feel about this world? Are things getting better for humans or are they getting worse? Will we discover the secret to physical immortality soon? Can screenwriters & filmmakers change the world for the better (with or without Hollywood & Indiewood's help)?
Gordy: I think we’re in trouble, with the war and the climate, but I have a lot of hope we will get through this. So it’s getting worse, but it will get better. We are not doomed. I hope we don’t discover how to stay alive forever. What an awful thing that would be. And yes, we can make the world a better place. Look at Borat!!
Sujewa: What's it like teaching film at USC? Is it awesome or is it not so great most of the time? How do you deal with students who think that they are the next Charlie Kaufman, but may or may not have the skills to support that perception?
Gordy: Teaching is great, as I am taught by the experience, and my writing stays alive and vital. I make pictures first and foremost, and teaching is a way of reminding me of that, and passing on what I struggled to find. You can learn things in film school.
Sujewa: Are you planning on directing anything in the near future?
Gordy: Yes, I have a digital project I want to shoot this year. Cross your fingers.