Write On! Q&A caught up with screenwriter Jenny Lumet at the Film Independent Spirit Awards “blue carpet” last month, where Lumet was nominated for Best First Screenplay for Rachel Getting Married. (The film was nominated for multiple Spirit Awards including Best Picture, Best Director Jonathan Demme, Best Female Lead Anne Hathaway—also nominated for an Academy Award for her performance, and Best Supporting Female for Rosemary DeWitt and Debra Winger.) Lumet won Best Screenplay from the Toronto Film Critics Association and Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture at the Image Awards. Rachel Getting Married, about a young woman who has been in and out from rehab for the past 10 years returning home for the weekend for her sister’s wedding, is being released on DVD today.
How does it feel to be here at the Film Independent Spirit Awards?
It’s pretty badass. Film Independent is amazing. It’s one of those aspirational kind of things. [I was] at home with [my] script like five years ago, heating up chicken nuggets for my son and between dog walks and baby nursings, [I got] to write.
It’s pretty amazing [to be here] and it’s pretty gratifying.
How do your ideas come about?
I have no fricking idea. Every single person who asks me that, I have a story and a line. I just don’t know. It shows up in your brain. I couldn’t tell you for the life of me.
You just sat down and started writing?
Pretty much. No, I thought probably for a couple of weeks and it gestated probably for a couple of months before that. And then I sat down and started writing.
How long did your first draft take?
Seven weeks. There was gestation and then fast writing and then gestation and then another draft.
So, fast is usually better, right?
Whatever works for anybody. I’m always impressed whenever anybody finishes anything, especially me. Whatever gets you through the night.
How hard is it to be a female screenwriter?
It’s easier if you’re related to a famous person, so if you could work that out…
(Lumet is the daughter of director Sidney Lumet and journalist and author Gail Lumet Buckley and the granddaughter of performer Lena Horne.
Given that I am related to a famous person, and given that I had a lot of stuff going for me that most people don’t have, it’s still impossible.
Any advice for writers?
Tenaciousness. Be related to somebody famous, be as relentless as a pitbull, and stalk people.
What is the one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
That nice doesn’t really enter the picture. And honest is better than nice.