Screenwriter Howard Rodman Shares Tips

Screenwriter Howard Rodman shares tips with aspiring writers. with Jessica Bachiochi '09

Howard Rodman likes directors with a clear vision of the story. He says working for some directors is “like trying to do a Rubik’s cube blind-folded.”

Rodman illustrated a screenwriter’s life when he visited Ithaca in September. In a packed Park Auditorium, he screened two of his half-hour episodes of Fallen Angels, a television anthology of short film noir that aired on Showtime in the 1990s. The episodes, “The Quiet Room” and “The Professional Man,” were produced by the late Sydney Pollack and directed by Steven Soderbergh, one director with whom Rodman enjoys working. Rodman, who has written original and adapted screenplays for both the big and small screen, then fielded questions.

One student asked how he came up with ideas. He admitted he prefers transforming others’ original ideas into words. When asked how to combat writer’s block, he deadpanned, “By going on strike.” Then he answered seriously, “I don’t believe in writer’s block.” He believes the period before you’re ready to start writing is part of the writing process. When asked how to improve, he stressed the importance of being fiercely honest with yourself. When your work is “saggy,” he recommends going back, tearing it apart, and redoing it. Rodman, a professor of writing at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, is also member of the board of the Writers Guild of America.

Rodman is well known for Joe Gould’s Secret (2000), which Stanley Tucci coproduced, directed, and starred in, and his most recent work was August, starring Josh Hartnett, which was released in 2008.