10 Screenwriters to Watch
What Hall loves about writing that wasn’t happening so much when he was a struggling actor is the ability to work his brain. “I always had the problem of being too thoughtful,” Hall says. “It was always, ‘Turn off your head.’ I was like, ‘I don’t want to.’ I like the thoughts that are streaming through there.”
After guest stints on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and various bad-guy roles on “all the crimeshows,” Hall — who studied business, English and cinema at USC — tried his hand at screenwriting so the parts for himself would improve. He sold his first script, then his second. But deals ensuring he play the lead were souring his momentum as a writer. He then signed with CAA two years ago and quit fighting the proverbial “What if (name actor) wants to play this part?” issue.
“I finally decided to ride the horse in the direction it was going, and things got a lot easier. When you find the thing you’re supposed to be doing, the universe opens up to you.”
Hall’s breakthrough was his script for “Rodney on the Roq,” what he calls a “challenging” biopic of legendarily eccentric L.A. deejay Rodney Bingenheimer’s bizarre life. Producer Andrew Lazar commissioned it at his Warner-based Mad Chance shingle, with Jonas Akerlund attached to direct.
“What Jason did was create an emotional reality from the inside out, an internal portrayal of Rodney through magical realism,” says Lazar, who first saw Hall’s talent in early spec scripts “Easy” and “.08.” “It’s ‘Forrest Gump’ in the world of rock-and-roll. It’s very special, and Jason has a unique voice.”
Now Hall’s plate is overflowing, and the helpings are diverse. For Lazar and DreamWorks, he’s written a global-warming-themed superhero movie, “Burns,” about a firefighter, and won fans at HBO for a pilot called “Addicks,” about two guys who run a rehab scam. He’s now pitching top actresses on a real-life legal/political drama about a female lawyer and a Burmese freedom fighter who sue a gas company for human rights violations.
The ultimate goal, says Hall, is to engage what interests him and avoid being pigeonholed. “I don’t want to be the guy who writes the same movie over and over again. If I’m not challenged, I’m not inspired.”
Provenance: Lake Arrowhead, Calif.
Inspired by: Hal Ashby films, “Five Easy Pieces,” “The Godfather,” Michael Mann films, novel “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay”
Reps: Agency: CAA; manager: Darren Friedman at Management 360; attorney: Karl Austen at Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum & Morris