Ivy Film Festival: Getting to know Aaron Sorkin

Anne Simons / BlogDailyHerald

Aaron Sorkin, screenwriter/object of worship for political science and MCM concentrators alike, spoke at 2 PM today to a packed crowd in the Salomon DeCiccio auditorium.  Sorkin, writer of the Oscar-winning film The Social Network and the acclaimed television show The West Wing gave Brown students an inside look at his writing process, his views on social networking, and the differences between writing adaptations and original scripts.  In case you missed the event or weren’t able to get a ticket, never fear!  BlogDailyHerald is here with a condensed list of the top five things you should have gotten out of the Q&A.

1. There was only one draft of the script for The Social Network. Yup, you read that right.  According to Sorkin, David Fincher (the Oscar-winning director of the film) requested that the production process for The Social Network be streamlined, meaning that the studio executives at Sony had very few opportunities to tamper with Sorkin’s original words. A collective gasp reverberated through the auditorium when Sorkin revealed this little factoid.  This blogger overheard at least one nearby whisper of “He. Is. God.”  

2. Sorkin wrote parts of the first draft of A Few Good Men on cocktail napkins. Sorkin explained that, during a short stint as a bartender in New York City, he found time to scrawl down thoughts and lines on bar napkins during off hours.  Little did he know at the time that these scribbles would turn into an award-winning play/movie.

3. Sorkin has a personal vendetta against social networking (kind of).  While the fact that Sorkin himself does not have a personal Facebook page has been widely publicized, the writer’s individual qualms with Facebook, Myspace, and similar sites have not.  In an answer to a question about The Social Network, Sorkin cited a “lack of sincerity” in social connections made online. He noted that the art of making personal connections has disappeared, as communications through social networking sites are not personalized, but directed outwards for all the world to see.  Not to worry, though — this small remark was all the pontificating that went on during Sorkin’s talk, because all we really wanted to find out about was….

4. His writing process. Sorkin’s answer to this student-asked question (funny how the inept nervous moderator didn’t even bother to even touch on this issue, when it’s clearly the one that everyone wanted to know about) was far from straightforward, to the dismay of prospective screenwriters.  The only real reply anyone was able to get out of him on this topic was that “getting started is the most difficult.”  But, for anyone who has written anything ever, this fact seems self-evident.  Sorkin also touched on his use of notecards to jot down ideas and his habit of reading dialogue aloud to himself when he writes.  The crowd roared when Sorkin told a story of an NBC studio executive who insisted upon buying him a headset to wear in his car after the executive saw him talking to himself on his way to work.

5. What will Sorkin’s newest project be like? Sorkin repeatedly referenced his next venture into the world of television programming with his upcoming HBO show about a cable news show, tentatively titled More as the Story Develops.  Excitingly, it seems that this show will be the media-themed analog of The West Wing: fed up with the way in which modern news programs (Fox?) feed misinformation to Americans (Sorkin cited the fact that 67 percent of Americans thought that Iraq had attacked the United States on the day that the United States military invaded Iraq in 2003), Sorkin’s new project envisions what an idealized cable news program would look like.  How different would the world be if there were a news station whose sole goal was truly to maintain its integrity and report the news in full?  We look forward to seeing what it looks like, Mr. Sorkin.


  1. Anne Simons

    Sorkin also refused to be pinned down on his favorite episode of “The West Wing.”
    I would like to submit “He Shall, from Time to Time,” “Two Cathedrals” and “Twenty Five” for consideration.

  2. LitArts

    ” This blogger overheard at least one nearby whisper of “He. Is. God.”
    Also a huge idol to some Lit Arts/TAPS majors. Don’t forget that screenwriting isn’t in MCM…

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