Lifestyle-Jan. 14, 2003
August has plenty of work to choose from
By Rick Harmon
Screenplay writer John August has been working on "Big Fish" off-and-on for more than four years. But he's been working on plenty of other projects, two of which have been "Charlie's Angels," which was a hit in 2000, and "Charlie's Angels Full Throttle," which will be released June 27.
August talked about writing both the original (along with Ryan Rowe and Ed Solomon) and the sequel (along with the team of Cormac and Marianne Wibberley).
He said writing the original was about 2 1/2 years of work.
"Most of that was before a frame was ever shot," he said. "You just need to get the feel of what you are doing before you start it."
One of the things August knew from the start was that he wanted the "Angels" to be dorks, because it is dorks who are funny and lovable.
"We knew we wanted them to be super-competent on the job and dorks off the job," he said.
The sequel was easier to write.
"It was easier in that we at least knew the feel we wanted the film to have," he said. "At no point during the sequel was there disagreement about the tone the movie should take."
"The only big problem was whether they could get that cast back together. There were just so many big stars with so many other projects. But everyone really wanted to do it, and it worked out."
August also does work as what used to be called "a script doctor," a consultant brought in to heal a script's problems.
He likes the work.
"I think most people love to save the day, and a big part of why you are being brought in is usually because people think there are problems in the script and that you can help.
"You are usually working in one of two ways. A lot of times you are being used as an editor, kind of clearing away the deadwood in the plot. Other times you are just picking up the ball and running with it for about 10 yards before you turn it back over to someone else."
"Jurassic Park 3" was a case of the latter.
"It was about one day into shooting when they called me in," he said.
Sam Neill's character, Dr. Alan Grant, winds up being taken to the island where he helps a couple find their son, who has been stranded there. But until about a month before the movie, August said there was no son.
"He was added, and I was brought in to write scenes between Neill's character and the boy that they'd created after most of the script was done," August said.
Other projects are looming. He is leaving this week to go to Los Angeles and then to Canada to work on a TV crime drama series. There's also new adaptations of the Jane Fonda cult classic "Barbarella" and the TV show "Fantasy Island" in the works, but August said neither of those are set.
He said "Fantasy Island" is still up in the air, and "Barbarella" is being written for Drew Barrymore. When you write for an actor who has as many projects as she does, when the film happens depends when she has time.