Quentin Tarantino celebrated the art of screenwriting during his induction into the Final Draft Hall of Fame Tuesday night at the Paramount Theatre in Hollywood.
The clearly delighted Tarantino, who scored Oscar nominations for writing, directing and producing “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” revealed filmmaker Walter Hill was his inspiration to become a screenwriter.
“Walter was one of my biggest heroes growing up,” he said. “I had only read two scripts and they were so effing dry. But when I read ‘Hard Times,’ it wasn’t just description. It wasn’t just a blue print for how to do the movie. I was supposed to make the movie in my mind. When the script was over and I put it down, I saw the movie.”
Tarantino went on to explain that he spent the next decade working on unfinished scripts, such as a knock-off of “Smokey and the Bandit” called “Captain Peachfuzz and the Anchovy Bandits” about a gang robbing pizza parlors.
“That was my writing career for about 12 years,” he recalled. “A whole lot of handwritten scripts that got up to page 20, page 30. ‘True Romance’ was the first script that I ever finished. Roger Avary is the one who read it from beginning to end. It looked like the Unabomber’s Manifesto. He not only read it, he typed it up. I don’t know that there was anyone else who would have done that.”
Both Avary and Tarantino were working at the Video Archives store in Manhattan Beach at that point. They would go on to win the Oscar for co-writing “Pulp Fiction” in 1995.
Tarantino also advised the audience that studio executives have told him that there’s a dearth of original movie scripts nowadays, since writers are mostly focused on getting TV staff jobs.
“Executives want to read that diamond-bullet script from someone they’ve never heard of,” he said. “They’re not seeing that now. It’s an opportunity in the marketplace.”
Hill, who presented the award to Tarantino, lauded the filmmaker saying, “His screenplays never pander to easy sentimentality.”
“The Farewell” director Lulu Wang was also honored at the event with the new voice award for film, presented by “Parasite” filmmaker Bong Joon Ho.
“‘Parasite’ is a step in the right direction toward making America more of a global market,” Wang said. “Please be the masters of your stories and find the partners that help you do that.”
Steven Canals, “Pose” co-creator, received the new voice in television award. When he took the stage to accept his prize, he said, “I wanted to force the masses to wrestle with the stories of the forgotten. I must use my voice to stand up for those on the margins.”
Before the show, he reminisced about his early days in Hollywood. “What surprised me about Hollywood when I was starting in 2012 was how many people are rooting for you and are willing to help,” he said.
The 15th annual Final Draft Awards was hosted by brothers Jason and Randy Sklar, who cracked up the crowd with new studio notes on 1994’s “Pulp Fiction” such as “Does there have to be so much cursing? He could say, ‘I’m pretty flipping far from OK.'”
The event included presentations of the feature grand prize to Steve Anthopoulos for “My Summer in the Human Resistance” and the TV grand prize to Todd Goodlett for “The Arsonist’s Handbook.”