William H. Macy – HuffPost 9.24.14

Mike Ragogna: I always ask everybody what advice they have for new artists. In this case, it’s twice as good since you’ve worked with both musicians and actors. First, what advice do you have for musicians?

William H. Macy: For writing for film? I guess my take is I’m a storyteller. When I hear pop songs that I don’t like it’s because they’ve got a catchy hook and that’s the end of it. They’ve got nothing to say. Those are the songs where you hear the same phrase repeated until you’re ready to put a gun in your mouth, and they try to fix it with production. It’s just one clever little thing that they thought and then they just repeat it for three minutes. The songs that we really love are the ones that take us on a little bit of a story, and the best stories are ones where you don’t see the punchline coming. I took this writing course by Robert McKee one time, he was talking about the climax of the thing and he said, “Your climax must be inevitable, and that’s where the good guy and the bad guy come together. The climax has got to be unexpected.” It unfolds in a way that the audience wasn’t expecting. He said, “If you can do that and then throw another twist after you think it’s over, you too can have two homes.”

MR: [laughs] Nicely said. The other thing I wanted to ask was what advice do you have for actors who are going to play artists and musicians?

WM: I think most actors know how to deal with it. I had seen a lot of Anton’s work and I came to him and said, “Oh, you play the violin, I’m going to put the violin in here.” He said, “I don’t play the violin!” I said, “I saw you playing a violin,” and he said, “I was faking it!” I said, “Well you faked it really well, so you’ve got to fake it again.” He does! He played a violinist and they taught him how to get the vibrato and something of the fretboard, and he’s a guitarist so he knows that, and he knew how to bow. He fooled me in that film and he fooled me in this film If you want to laugh you should listen to the recorded track. You should listen to production sound, because it looks like he’s playing this beautiful thing but it sounds like a dog getting run over.

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