‘She Said’ Writer Rebecca Lenkiewicz on Writing Drama Harvey Weinstein


‘She Said’ screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz says New York Times reporters who broke Harvey Weinstein’s story in 2017 fed her chapters from their book as they wrote it in order to put the novel on the screen sooner.

Speaking in the context of a Variety-sponsored by the London Film Festival’s screenwriting panel, the British scribe of films such as Keira Knightley’s ‘Colette’ and Pawel Pawlikowski’s ‘Ida’ described working closely with journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey to write Universal’s film adaptation of their 2019 book. The process took about four years, Lenkiewicz said.

“I started working on it before I read the book,” said the Devon-born writer, who had six “liberating” weeks of writing on her own before even seeing a chapter.

“I met the journalists and I was writing it, and they were feeding me the chapters. It was an interesting way of working because I almost had to backtrack. But I’m happy with it. did because I felt like I had set foot before it was under the umbrella of the book.

Lenkiewicz spent an entire day each with three women “who had survived Weinstein in various ways” in order to write the film. “It’s a huge responsibility because you want the film to reach all the women who have ever been abused, and something to resonate with them and give them some satisfaction or freedom rather than leaving the cinema completely blown away,” Lenkiewicz said. .

“It’s a very delicate balance. I was drawn to the project because I can name the number of women I know who have had horrific experiences… It’s a huge responsibility and a responsibility to young men, to everyone. So you feel [the pressure] but all you can really do is do all that and your craft.

“She Said” will premiere at the New York Film Festival on Thursday before screening at the London Film Festival on Friday. The film hits the festival circuit as jury selection continues for Weinstein’s trial in Los Angeles, which marks the former film producer’s second rape and sexual assault trial, following his conviction in 2020 and his sentenced to 23 years. If convicted again in this trial, which is based on 11 new charges from five women, he will effectively never be freed again.

Lenkiewicz also spoke about the time constraints of filming “She Said” during the pandemic, when the New York Times building was empty of most employees, who were working from home. “Nobody was in the building and they wanted to use it,” she explained.

Kantor and Twohey were “incredibly supportive” of the writer and were “very, very keen on the journalism being accurate”.

“I absolutely sucked at it,” Lenkiewicz joked, “so they were very supportive saying, ‘I wouldn’t say that. I wouldn’t say that. Things that I found banal, like “Let’s stop Trump being president!” Actually, no, you can’t say that. As a journalist, you must be neutral. [They] cannot participate in the women’s march. Things that I didn’t know at all, so it was an absolute education.

Lenkiewicz spoke alongside “A Spy Among Friends” and “Homeland” writer Alex Cary, who writes primarily for US networks and streamers. They were interviewed by author and screenwriter Terri White.

Screenwriters were asked about a recent survey by the Writers Guild of Great Britain, which found that more than 70% of British film screenwriters say they are not properly credited and are effectively ‘erased’ from productions .

Lenkiewicz, who writes primarily for film but has written for TV shows such as Netflix’s ‘The Eddy’ and ITV’s ‘Secret Diary of a Call Girl’, said the poll results ‘didn’t have it. surprise”.

“It didn’t surprise me at all,” Lenkiewicz said. “I started with the theater and so I was always deeply shocked because in the theater you are asked if you want to change a word. Then you move on to other forms and it’s very different. I was happy to start in theater because it gave me a sense of authority in a way – that words mattered and you mattered.

Working in TV, for her, “was pretty brutal”, she later added, citing a “recent” experience but not naming the production (Lenkiewicz’s last two TV writing credits are the mini- Amazon and BBC TV series “Small Axe” and “The Eddy”.

“Being on something for three years, getting fired without warning. Things like that, where you kind of go, ‘Woah!’… It’s brutal [in that it makes you] doubt your confidence and ask, ‘Can I still do this?’ »

Asked about the demands placed on writers in a fast-moving environment where streamers, in particular, want content to be fast and notes to flow freely from multiple stakeholders, Lenkiewicz said the key is to “find your team.” and colleagues who support the writing process.

“If you get 12 sets of notes from 12 strangers, you’re just taking a donkey to the market,” Lenkiewicz said. “The most important thing is to create the conditions to write, and that is to be free. But that does not mean that there are no constraints. It means that you are mentally free and do not feel like you are serving unseen higher powers.


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