This new article from Living the Romantic Comedy delves into the writing process that Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumulo went through to get to the funniest possible film — they wrote, then they re-wrote a dozen-plus times, and then they embraced a lot of improv in the actual filming (download the script here). There’s a big lesson to be learned here about not settling for the first or even the tenth idea that comes to you:
In the “Line-o-Rama” bonus on the just-released Bridesmaids DVD, a bonanza of alternate takery, there’s one sequence where Melissa McCarthy improvises variations on the same brief line, over and over again, trying out a different gag every time. How many takes? Reader, I counted them: there are forty-eight.
The last question asked in the Q & A of my Screenwriting Expo seminar on “Comedy Craft for the Contemporary Romantic Comedy” came out of discussing Bridesmaids, which I’d worked on as a story analyst at Universal. I’d shown some clips from it and mentioned the screenplay’s long (3-4 years) gestation, noting how co-writers Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumulo had been in the enviable position of writing and rewriting on the studio’s dime, under the guidance of producer Judd Apatow.
“How do you get into a great situation like that?” the woman in the back wanted to know. “Well,” I said, “You might start by being a talented comedic actress who’s got a gig on Saturday Night Live…” And we wrapped things up on that wry, we-should-all-be-so-lucky note.
The Bridesmaids out-takes and deleted scenes tell an intriguing tale, one that suggests luck isn’t necessarily the point. The DVD extras present ample evidence of something I recently discussed in an on-line interview about the movie’s development: the idea that honoring any and all ideas, when you’re writing a movie, is in fact a great idea.