A screenplay has to be like a haiku

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You’ve got to give it up for Francis Ford Coppola. He weaned himself from Hollywood money after making some not-so-great films and rediscovered his original passion for filmmaking. This is a great interview. One of the highlights is his focus on clarity and simplicity:

When you make a movie, always try to discover what the theme of the movie is in one or two words. Every time I made a film, I always knew what I thought the theme was, the core, in one word. In “The Godfather,” it was succession. In “The Conversation,” it was privacy. In “Apocalypse,” it was morality.

If this sort of focus is possible in an endeavor as complicated as filmmaking; it can be applied to many undertakings: software development, urban planning, you name it. Sure there are a thousand details, but what’s the essence?