BY SUZANNE KELMAN
Whidbey Life Magazine contributor
March 12, 2014
They may have rolled up the red carpet on the awards season in Hollywood but here, in Freeland, screenwriter Bob Nelson is rolling up his sleeves.
The winner of an Independent Spirit Award and nominee for a screenwriting Academy Award, Nelson is just back from a month of ceremonies, parties and promotional dinners. Now he’s more than ready to get back to work, focusing all his attention on three new film projects and a TV pilot.
If you think that seems fast, bear in mind Nelson wrote “Nebraska” ten years ago and has been keeping himself busy working on studio projects while waiting for the film’s release.
A lot of the work he was doing down on the Hollywood circuit last month was helping to create a buzz about his new projects. Two of the films he was promoting are potentially destined for the independent market and he hopes they will both do well at film festivals such as Sundance.
The first film Nelson has written is for the talented comedian/actor Joel McHale, commonly seen as a host on “The Soup.” McHale is someone Nelson remembers from his work on “Almost Live,” a Seattle-based sketch comedy series the writer worked on back in the 90s.
The movie, inspired by true events, is the story of the first female softball players on an Indian reservation. Nelson explained that the money raised from Native American casinos gave a reservation enough money to build their own high school, thus enabling them to create their first ever softball team.
Nelson is in the process of developing the script with John Malkovich’s production company, Mr. Mudd, which also produced the movie “Juno.”
The second film he is working on, once again with the producers of “Nebraska,” is inspired by an old Italian movie called “The Bicycle Thieves,” which was originally released in 1948.
For both of these projects, he is not only the screenwriter, but also intends to take a stab at the director’s chair. Nelson acknowledged that the time he spent on his last movie gave him the encouragement needed to accept this new challenge.
“For my first screenplay,” Nelson said, “I got to collaborate with one of the best; that’s the reason I’m going to try and direct, because I’ll never be that lucky again. But…after making “Nebraska,” I’m taking this new one out and Alexander [Payne, director of “Nebraska”] has asked to read it. Now I have this mentor who will read my screenplays and give me great notes.”
As far as “Nebraska” goes, it seems that the “luck” appeared to go both ways. It takes a remarkable story to be nominated for so many prestigious awards (11 nominations, just for screenwriting) and as humble as Nelson is about his contribution, one has to believe his own talent has a great deal to do with its success. It will be exciting to see how his career develops over the next few years.
Despite being busy, Nelson is still taking time to talk about his work on “Nebraska.” If you’d like the opportunity to meet him, he will be doing a Q&A after a showing of the movie at The Clyde Theatre in Langley at 7:30 p.m. on March 16.
For more details about the event visit The Clyde’s website at www.theclyde.net.
(photos courtesy of Bob Nelson)
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