Interview: Ray Gideon - Screenwriter
Originally an actor, Ray Gideon first took the turn into writing 20 years ago
with fellow actor Bruce Evans, and the two of them have been working together ever since. It's a partnership that has yielded some impressive credits, first with short films then to feature films with their first sold script, 'A Man, A Woman and A Bank.' This first effort launched their career, which has included films such as 'Stand By Me,' 'Starman,' 'Made In Heaven,' 'Jungle' and 'Jungle 2' among others.
Today, they work from their West Hollywood office, continuing their two decades of collaborative writing nurtured by the long-established daily routine that both feel is one key to their success.
To keep that process in focus, Gideon and Evans follow closely the advice they give to beginning writers: ' Set up a routine and don't break it.' For Gideon and Evans, that routine means a workday beginning at 9:30AM when they arrive at the office. Morning hours are spent reading, information gathering and catching up with yesterday's unfinished business. The business of writing begins after lunch and continues, more often than not, until at least 11:30PM -- and, when they're on a specific project -- seven days a week.
Gideon proved to be the more verbal of the two, and he had lots to say about what makes a successful writer. 'Writing,' Ray said, 'is not a fun process. Writing is really hard. The process is murder.' 'No one,' he feels, 'likes to write, but everyone likes to 'have written.''
Among Gideon's pet peeves these days are feature films that are all style and no story, so it's no surprise that he describes working sessions with Evans as centering on two words: 'What if, what if.'
'You can't tell people how to write,' Ray added. 'They can or they can't. You can't guess what Hollywood will want next. Writing what you think will sell is one error that's too frequently made. What you're writing now may not sell now, but it may sell five years from now. The more personal you make a story, the more universal it will be.'
While developing a viable story and the characters to tell it continues to challenge -- and bedevil -- storytellers in seemingly eternal ways, the actual process of capturing thoughts and actions in print has, Gideon feels, been made much, much easier with the coming of computers and the ever-evolving flow of software. He recalls a conversation with a writer friend as the final motivating factor in his acquiring a computer and Movie Magic Screenwriter. And he credits The Writers Store with 'getting me hooked on the drug of computers.'
Nowadays, Gideon is not only addicted to computers, he's firmly into the Internet, preferring to do research as a story evolves with search engines such as Yahoo!, HotBot and Alta Vista, which have become invaluable tools. He also likes computer-friendly Encarta and Compton's and researches for books on-line.
Interview dated 2000