SPOTLIGHT: Screenwriting royalty comes to Langley to speak

Posted in Feature, Spotlight

Robin Swicord is a screenwriter and film director who happens to be the wife of screenwriter Nicholas Kazan, who is the son of the great director Elia Kazan. She is also the mother of Zoe Kazan, an actor and now, with her first film “Ruby Sparks,” also a screenwriter.

Wow. Talk about connected.

But just because someone has Hollywood royalty in their family, does not make screenwriting an easy career. Swicord has worked hard to get to where she is and will be in town to tell a local audience all about that at the first of this season’s WICA/Hedgebrook Literary Series at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7.

She will also be staying the week on the island to teach a screenwriters master class at Hedgebrook in Langley, a skill at which she excels, as is apparent from her body of work.

Swicord’s screenplay credits include “Memoirs of a Geisha,” based on the novel of the same name by Arthur Golden; “Little Women,” “Practical Magic,” “Matilda,” “The Perez Family” and “Shag.’ Her directorial debut was with the 1993 short film “The Red Coat,” for which she also wrote the screenplay. Swicord also wrote the screenplay for Karen Joy Fowler’s (an upcoming lit series author) 2004 novel “The Jane Austen Book Club” and directed the film, as well. (She recently said in a Twitter interview with Hedgebrook that that was her best experience in filmmaking.)  She also collaborated with Eric Roth on the screen adaptation of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,’ based on the short story of the same name by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

In a 2010 interview with Kerrie Flanagan of WOW! Women on Writing magazine, Swicord was asked how she felt about the responsibility of creating a script for “Memoirs of Geisha” in about four months’ time, much less time than she would normally have taken for a piece that required 20 years of research for the novel’s author.

She said she was grateful that the team was able to take a few weeks in Kyoto to fully immerse themselves in the culture. She also said she could not have written the screenplay she did without it.

These are the kind of backstory tidbits of which audiences are offered a glimpse when authors chat. In a conversation with Hedgebrook on Twitter, Swicord had this to say about writing.

“I’ve been writing my whole life, watching movies my whole life. One day I realized movies were written by actual writers!”

That’s apparently when Robin Swicord got to work, with a vengeance.

There will be a question and answer session following Swicord’s talk with Hedgebrook’s Executive Director, Amy Wheeler.

Wheeler is excited by the entire literary series.

Robin Swicord is a cinematic trailblazer, known for her superb adaptations of novels to the screen (both as a screenwriter and director), and for championing the work and raising the visibility of women screenwriters in Hollywood, Wheeler said.

In addition to Swicord, Local Seattle writers, Erica Bauermeister, Jennie Shortridge and Carol Cassella will visit on  Jan. 16, 2013; and Ruth Ozeki and Karen Joy Fowler on March 16, 2013.

“Erica Bauermeister, Carol Cassella and Jennie Shortridge are local literary lionesses, known for their prowess on the page as well as contributing their energy and dynamism to the heart of Seattle’s literary community through the ‘Seattle7,'” Wheeler noted.

“Then we have the dynamic duo of Ozeki and Fowler, who have become fast friends through their Hedgebrook association. We’re thrilled to be sponsoring a national Hedgebrook book tour with these two powerhouse writers, kicking off at WICA with the much-anticipated release of their new books: Ruth’s “A Tale for the Time Being” and Karen’s “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves,” Wheeler said.

Visit www.WICAonline  to see the full schedule of the Literary Series these upcoming visits from women authors.

Tickets are $8 and available at WICA.


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