March 23, 2011

A Dialogue with Aaron Sorkin

Professor Jason E. Squire hosts Oscar Winning Writer

Writer/producer Aaron Sorkin has won one Oscar, Four Humanitas Prizes, three Emmys, three Producer’s Guild Awards and two WGA Awards but he still considers himself a Hollywood outsider. He used these emotions to channel the portrayal of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for The Social Network.

Dean Elizabeth M. Daley, Aaron Sorkin and Jason E. Squire

Sorkin visited Professor Jason E. Squire’s Art and Industry of Theatrical Film class on March 22nd and had plenty of advice for aspiring writers. Other guests to the class have included Social Network composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross and director David Fincher.

When asked how much of himself went into Zuckerberg, Sorkin remarked, “I’ve had my nose pressed up against the glass watching something better going on ‘over there’. I watch the show Entourage from time to time, which is a show about how fun it is to work in Hollywood and I think, ‘wow, it must be fun to work in Hollywood,’ and I play myself on Entourage.”

Sorkin commented on how fortunate he felt to have worked in theatre, television and feature films. He told the students that the most important thing that they can learn in film school is how to tell stories in their own voice.

“The best advice I can give to any young screenwriter is to write a screenplay and have David Fincher direct it, ” said Sorkin. “I played it safe when I was in college. I didn’t take any risks. I never wanted to risk falling on my face and now that I’m not in college anymore I can’t take that risk. There are huge consequences to me falling on my face; my own humiliation and the employment of other people.”

“So, one thing I want to tell you while you are still in school is to take risks. Don’t play it safe. It’s good to find what you’re good at and develop that but it’s also to do things that you don’t think that you’re good at yet.”

Sorkin is currently working on a pilot about the behind the scenes workings of a cable news show for HBO.