“I’m looking for a strong voice and somebody that’s completely original,” actor Michael Pitt told The Observer last Thursday. “Something crazy. Something I haven’t read before.” He was referring to the benchmark that vying screenwriters must reach in order to nab a winning spot in the Four Stories screenplay competition, of which he is a judge.
A cocktail hour at the W New York Downtown commenced the competition, which beckons burgeoning scribes to submit work in a global contest sponsored by Intel and the W and curated by director Roman Coppola.
Despite the abundance of circulating champagne glasses, we noticed the cocktail-less Mr. Pitt was out of step with of his Boardwalk Empire character, the typically imbibing Jimmy Darmody.
“I learned a very long time ago that when somebody’s got a tape recorder in their hand you shouldn’t have a drink in yours,” Mr. Pitt told us coyly.
Though we were left with no other option than to speak with a sober Mr. Pitt, who will sit on a panel with Chloe Sevigny, Aubrey Plaza and Mr. Coppola to select the three winning screenplays (the fourth story will be made by Mr. Coppola himself), he wasn’t alone in his taste for a novel script. Just as we retreated to the W’s balcony for a bit of fresh air and a brief hiatus from the crowded room, we spotted Mr. Coppola and queried the director on what he will seek in the script submissions.
“I’m hoping that people do something that’s true to them and unique to them,” he told us. “I’m personally interested in things that are audacious and far out.”
Donning tinted glasses at an evening soiree, we gathered Mr. Coppola was most definitely attracted to a unique aesthetic value. The director, who was staying at the W, divulged to The Observer that he is looking forward to seeing how the screenwriters implement the setting at one of four possible W Hotel locations (Doha, the Maldives, Mexico City or Washington D.C.) and incorporate Intel’s Ultrabook as a prop, two requirements of the contest.
“Obviously, a hotel suggests adventure and romance and travel and things that have a certain unknown quality,” he said. “A computer, less so.”
As we waited for the evasive (and perpetually “on her way”) Alexa Chung and a fittingly elusive David Blaine, Intel’s Johan Jervoe confidently assured us the Ultrabook’s concise design made it a contender to fit inside our small purse, as we were not among the large Birkin-toting cocktail crowd. (Mr. Coppola perhaps wasn’t as sold on the aesthetic worth of a computer.)
The scripts for the ten-minute shorts are due August 30, and after the three winners are announced in September, Mr. Coppola’s filmmaking company, The Directors Bureau, will oversee the production. The films will enjoy a debut at red carpet events at select W locations and online distribution.
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