Script Chat! – The Writers Behind Black Swan

December 17, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Features

Since the dawn of celluloid, screenwriters have been the unseen gems of the film world, too often overlooked or eclipsed by big name actors and directors. OTB aims to set the record straight, showcasing exciting new talent on the screenwriting circuit. This week’s feature takes us into the minds of two writers responsible for Black Swan – the sensational psychodrama from director Darren Aronofsky. The film has already swiped up 4 Golden Globe nominations and a host of others in smaller festivals, including ones for best screenplay. So Mark Heyman and Andres Heinz are upcoming scribes to keep a beady eye on.

mark hey2What’s the Big Deal?
Well, a lot. Aronofsky has disturbed and dazzled us with Requiem for a Dream, and recently Micky Rourke’s ‘muscular’ showpiece The Wrestler. So writers Mark and Andres must have felt a bit chuffed when they were chosen, despite their limited industry experience, to pen the director’s next piece. Black Swan follows the physical and mental breakdown of Nina (Natalie Portman), an innocently gifted ballerina caught up in fierce rivalry with her own understudy Lily (Mila Kunis). Pressurised by slimy artistic director Thomas (Vincent Cassell) to inhabit her given part in every respect, ahem, Nina finds herself spiralling into a crazed and erotic journey that warps its way on screen through a surreal cosmetic transformation.

Mark Heyman: (Left) Mark was a hopeful director studying at the NYU film school when Aronofsky gave a guest talk. He took the opportunity to strike up a conversation, and ten minutes later had landed a job as an assistant working on the director’s cerebral drama The Fountain. Within two years Mark was co-producing The Wrestler. Soon he had earned enough of Aronofsky’s trust and respect for him to hand over his next baby, collaborating on the screenplay.

Andres+Heinz+AFI+FEST+2010+Presented+Audi+eavf0u2JHjzl[1]Asked why he thought Aronofsky chose other writers rather than developing the script himself, Mark said, ‘Why write if you can get someone else to do it for you?’ Good point.

Black Swan is Mark’s second feature film credit, though he has two new screenplays in the pipeline, including Machine Man, another collaboration with Aronofsky about a tech firm engineer who uses titanium to upgrade his body. Could titanium be the new silicone? ‘Silicone is SO 2010′, they’ll say.

Andres Heinz: (Right) Andres also studied at NYU, but got his big break when his agent sent Aronofsky a draft of his screenplay The Understudy, a twisted tale of ambition, loosely based on the Dostoevsky story of the same name. Aronofsky loved it, and had him developing the script into what became Black Swan. Andres claims he always uses step outlines to develop his screenplays, rather than hacking away at the same dialogue script until it works. Andres is now working on his directorial debut to be shot in Mexico.

Male writers have invited controversy over depictions of complex female characters on screen, so it will be very interesting to guage reactions to Black Swan across the entire gender-age-socio-politico-sexual matrix.

Black Swan will be released in cinemas in the UK and Ireland on Friday 21st January, 2011.

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  1. its almost “coincidental” that I bought my mother whom is over 70 ballet slippers which were cruelty free from Cynthia King dance studio’s, a few years back. I searched over New York for the purest of ballet slippers, I bought them for her with little money as a gift……she had always wanted to become a ballerina, but my grandmother told her she would never succeed, so she became a nurse, instead. Her dream as a child not fulfilled due to “her” mothers lack of confidence. Whats terrible is my mother has hated my art career and wanted me to quit and become “more practical” and work a 9-5…I ignored her demands and make art/music instead. The truly horrific part is last year, while my mother whom is over 70, was recruited by a Christian organization to do missionary work in Africa, she went over sea’s to give medical care to the sick people with no facilities or medicine in Africa, after a couple days there, both her arms were broken “in a car accident”, she left Africa early and incapacitated, and flew back from Africa 30 hours to the U.S. with two broken arms, and received no medical care until reaching the states-, and her aging bones have problems now.
    Cynthia King Dance studios sent me adverts and endorsements for this film with Natalie Portman via email today, stating what a fantastic year its been for them, with all the publicity. Actually it was I who brought fliers from the Cynthia King studio for their slippers to the Joffery Ballet on Avenue of America’s in Manhattan, as I felt like helping her business. My poor mother has broken arms now, but if she keeps on her toes, maybe she can think about dancing with the stars. No lie- do some fact checking. Its true, I liked the film by the way, it induced a sense of allure and intrigue. Where did those cracking sounds come from? It sounded so realistic…..were they pre-recorded?