Steve Kaplan is one of the screen industry’s most sought-after experts on comedy. In addition to having taught at the likes of UCLA, NYU and Yale, Kaplan created the HBO Workspace, the HBO New Writers Program and was co-founder and Artistic Director of Manhattan Punch Line Theatre. He regularly serves as a consultant and script doctor to some of the biggest names in the business such as DreamWorks, Disney, HBO, Paramount and Touchstone.
KAPLAN is at MIFF to present a series of MASTERING COMEDY workshops with FRANCIS VEBER.
Widescreen asked STEVE KAPLAN to take part in our 6 Burning Questions series.
I hate questions like this, because I have literally dozens of movies that I love, from all genres and time periods. So let me just focus on some of my favorite comedies.
Top of the list would have to be Groundhog Day—a great comic premise, developed honestly with sharp writing and directing and perhaps the best film performance of Bill Murray's career.
From the silent era, I'd choose Modern Times. Sullivan's Travels as my favorite Preston Sturges movie. Best Hope and Crosby road movie? The Road to Utopia. Best Danny Kaye? The Court Jester. Billy Wilder's The Apartment. Mel Brook's The Producers.
Best body-switching comedy? Big. Best sci-fi comedy? Galaxy Quest (look it up—it'll be worth it.) Best Mockumentary? Waiting for Guffman. Best Farrelly Brothers comedy? There's Something About Mary. Next best Ben Stiller movie? Tropic Thunder. Best Farrelly Brothers comedy that wasn't written, directed or produced by the Farrellys? The 40 Year Old Virgin.
Best Paul Newman/Robert Redford movie? They're ALL the best (but The Sting is a little better).
Best Python? Life of Brian. Best Non-Python? A Fish Called Wanda. Best No Pythons? The Full Monty. (I purposely haven't given my favourite Australian comedy—you'll have to come along to the seminar to find out that one!)
But that's why I hate this question, because they're all great!
Can you tell us your favourite film festival memory.
It hasn't happened yet—it's when I get to sit and chat with the great Francis Veber on 6th August!
What piece of film memorabilia would you most like to own?
Charlie's hat, cane and shoes.
If you could have 60 of anything, what would it be?
Who needs 60 of anything? 60 shoes? 60 suits? 60 slices of pizza? I guess at this point in my life, I'll take time and health—I'd like 60 more healthy years, in addition to the years I was going to get anyway, to live, to love, to be with friends, to read books and to watch movies. Either that, or 60 millions of dollars. That would work, too.
Favourite cinema past or present?
My favourite movie theatre? I'm partial to the Arclight in Los Angeles, which is like a screening room for you and your 500 closest friends, but nothing could beat watching a movie on the huge screen at Radio City Music Hall after the big stage show featuring the Rockettes.
In your opinion, how has the cinema going audience changed over the past 20 years?
Have they changed? I really haven't noticed. I'm too busy watching the picture (Shhh . . . the movie's starting. And put that damn cell phone away!)