Dustin Lance Black | Film and TV | News

Dustin Lance Black Reveals His Creative Process: VIDEO


In a video for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black opens up about “the creative spark” and what his writing process looks like. For Black, it all starts with figuring out why a story must be told:

Taking an idea, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction and figuring out why—not just what you’re gonna tell, not that it’s entertaining or interesting but why are you telling that story? What is the purpose of that story? For me it’s always, how do I move the needle? How do I change the culture?

Anyone who’s ever attempted to write anything as substantial as a screenplay will instantly recognize (and maybe shudder) at seeing the copious research Black compiles for each project he works on and all the ‘darlings’ (scenes, ideas, etc.) he has to kill when putting a story together.  

Black describes writing as an addiction, something he loves and hates but something he ultimately always returns to because he’s invested in figuring out the stories that stay with him. 

In a line that could have been cribbed from his own Oscar acceptance speech, Black emphasizes the political impact that storytelling can have: “We make progress by telling our personal stories. The personal story can change the world.”

Delve into Black’s world, AFTER THE JUMP…


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  1. One of my college professors said writing is : How Does Who Do What And Why? What happened with Hoover and his homosexuality?
    Was he? Not enough material?

    Posted by: Gary | May 27, 2014 1:58:53 PM

  2. Black's process is so physical. All those cards and boxes full of paper.

    Posted by: Glenn I | May 27, 2014 2:05:10 PM

  3. His creative spark comes from imbibing the juices of barely-legal men.

    Posted by: odee | May 27, 2014 2:13:18 PM

  4. Is that hair the "Beehive" of the 21st Century? Who holds the sex position cue cards when he trains his young BF?

    Posted by: GEB | May 27, 2014 2:37:25 PM

  5. Sean worked so hard on this interview. Good work Sean. This guy is over researched. Try some new material.

    Posted by: Josh | May 27, 2014 3:05:19 PM

  6. ODEE: WTF do you care? How does this affect you?

    Posted by: UGH | May 27, 2014 3:27:53 PM

  7. UGH, How does my opinion affect you?

    Posted by: odee | May 27, 2014 3:29:56 PM

  8. Ugh, ODEE beat me to it.

    Posted by: Sam | May 27, 2014 3:35:20 PM

  9. Too bad DLB didn't do copious amounts of research before he bent over backwards to suck up to Ken Mehlman and the his big bank account he amassed while at the same time, selling out his own community. I wish DLB and his lover well, but DLB is of zero interest to this part of the gay community. Perhaps the few people left writing checks to AFER would like to know more about his process.

    Posted by: MikeBoston | May 27, 2014 3:59:29 PM

  10. ODEE/ AKA SAM: Because you troll EVERY time a DLB story is on here and you make the same tired, snide comments. Again, why does who he dates affect you and why are you so bitter about it?

    Posted by: UGH | May 27, 2014 5:31:22 PM

  11. Your opinion affects us because we have to read it. DUH!

    Posted by: UGH | May 27, 2014 5:32:24 PM

  12. Writing is hard work...

    Posted by: jarago | May 27, 2014 6:03:16 PM

  13. OK, BUT what is his new film? His last one was in 2011 (J. Edgar)

    Posted by: Moniker | May 27, 2014 6:38:13 PM

  14. @odee: I lol'd!

    Great video. I've taken a couple fiction writing workshops, and have writing short fiction, but I'll be taking my first screenwriting class this fall. Really looking forward to it. I love seeing other writer's systems and how they approach the craft. Very interesting and gets me amped.

    Posted by: daws | May 27, 2014 6:55:49 PM

  15. @MONIKER

    He is currently working on screenplays for 'Under the Banner of Heaven' for director Ron Howard and "Barefoot Bandit' for director Robert Zemeckis.

    Posted by: Red | May 27, 2014 9:58:16 PM

  16. Oscar aside, Dustin Lance Black is destined to win the "Man of the Year" Award from NAMBLA.

    Posted by: Nomi | May 28, 2014 3:56:40 AM

  17. Lessons form "Anal Annie."

    Posted by: Arnie | May 28, 2014 11:22:22 AM

  18. You are an idiot NOMI.

    Posted by: MATTROCKS | May 28, 2014 11:30:21 AM

  19. if this process led to that piece of crap "J. Edgar" then we might ax it. And "Milk" was a good movie but that script was hardly Awards material.

    Posted by: Jaxon | May 29, 2014 8:11:06 PM

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