'Bumblebee' screenwriter Christina Hodson is shaping Hollywood's blockbuster future — and centering

Discussion in 'Transformers Movie Discussion' started by NemesisPrime12, Nov 7, 2018.

  1. NemesisPrime12

    NemesisPrime12 Well-Known Member

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    'Bumblebee' screenwriter Christina Hodson is shaping Hollywood's blockbuster future — and centering female stories - Los Angeles Times

    Movie-mad “Bumblebee” screenwriter Christina Hodson returns on more than one occasion to the subject of Linda Hamilton’s awesomeness in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” as we chat over tea and scones made from scratch in her Los Angeles home.

    And who among the Sarah Connor-worshiping faithful can blame her? Hodson’s lifelong love of film turned into a career when she took a leap and penned her first script just seven years ago: “In my heart,” she smiles, “I always wanted to write ‘T2.’”

    The London native grew up a fanatic for action movies and wearing out her VHS collection, gravitating toward the big explosions, bombastic set pieces, and epic emotions of American big-budget blockbusters — exactly the kind of movies she’s now making her specialty as one of the exciting new voices shaping Hollywood’s future.

    In 2011 after switching tracks from a career in development to screenwriting, three of Hodson’s spec scripts made the Black List. Within a few years she was hired to reboot “The Fugitive” for Warner Bros., which led to her working in the diverse “Transformers” writer’s room assembled to spark new directions for the Hasbro franchise.

    Emerging with the script for “Bumblebee,” an origin tale that tracks the titular fan-favorite Autobot as he’s befriended by a teenager named Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) in the 1980s, Hodson is the first woman to originate and write a film in the $4.3-billion “Transformers” franchise.

    Lorenzo di Bonaventura, the producer who has shepherded the property through four sequels and a prequel following 2007’s $709-million worldwide grosser “Transformers,” hopes “Bumblebee,” which opens Dec. 21, will inaugurate a new constellation of spinoffs.

    “The audience was telling us that they wanted to go in-depth on a character,” he said, explaining that Bumblebee was a hero fans already felt an emotional connection to. “But we were also interested in changing the rhythm of the franchise.”

    The result is a scaled-down, more intimate “Transformers” action pic about a girl and her robot, featuring the kind of defiantly independent heroine who rarely gets to lead big studio blockbusters. (Kelly Fremon Craig, whose offbeat 2016 high school comedy “The Edge of Seventeen” was instrumental in getting Steinfeld on producers’ radar according to Di Bonaventura, also contributed scripting duties after being considered to direct.)

    Perhaps even more intriguing for the comic book hardcore: Hodson is prepping for a January production start on the Harley Quinn “Birds of Prey” spinoff starring Margot Robbie, which she wrote and Cathy Yan will direct. And she’s currently writing a standalone “Batgirl” movie, also for Warner Bros. and DC.

    “Mostly, I want my nieces to grow up in a world where the girls and women they see on screen feel as varied and complicated as they are,” Hodson said of her approach to writing characters.

    Her rise has made Hodson not only one of the most in-demand screenwriters in town, but among the small but growing ranks of strong female voices working in a multibillion-dollar blockbuster business historically dominated by men.

    “Particularly as women, we feel like we need permission to be writing the bigger movies — and it is hard breaking into that space,” Hodson said. “It’s lovely that we all know each other, but I would love it if there were so many of us that we can’t know each other.”

    In speaking with Hodson in advance of “Bumblebee”’s holiday release, it quickly became apparent that she can provide something all the best blockbuster movies need: a unique point of view.

    Q: How did your love for movies — and the kind of huge genre action movies you’re writing now — first start?

    I was always obsessed with movies. I just loved Hollywood movies. In one year when I was 15 or 16, I wrote down every movie I watched and it was something like 750 movies. I have two sisters, both older, and we would watch some movies again and again, like “The Lost Boys.” [On “Bumblebee”] we actually shot one of the days in Santa Cruz right on the pier. When I was writing it I always imagined that. When I found out they were shooting there I was like, “That’s my brain! You put my brain in the movie!”

    Q: What were some of your favorite films growing up?

    “Terminator 2” is one of my favorite movies of all time. Ever. I actually reference that movie all the time when people ask me, “What do you want to write?” It’s everything you could possibly want! And it is so intimate. Even at the very end and he’s like, “I know now why you cry” – how amazing it is to deliver such big emotion in such a small line, such a small moment? That’s what I want to do. I want to make big movies that also feel really intimate and have a lot of heart and emotion.

    Q: How did you find your way into the “Transformers” universe?

    I loved the toys and as a kid I watched the cartoons. I was robot-obsessed as a kid and weirdly always thought I would one day build my own robot that would be alive and real... [Steven] Spielberg said about the first [“Transformers”] that the thing he responded to was the simple concept of a boy and his car, which I totally loved. I remember the first time I turned the ignition in my dad’s car, the feeling of bringing a big hunk of metal to life — the most magical feeling.

    And that’s a feeling you infused into “Bumblebee” with Charlie. Why was Hailee Steinfeld the right choice to play a teenage gearhead still figuring out who she is?
    We’re lucky we got her because it’s a tricky role; so often we see girls in films who are “the mean girl” or “the tomboy” or “the artist,” and what I loved about her and what I could relate to because it’s who I was, is that she’s a bit of everything. I think most kids are. Most of us are a weird mishmash of everything. We don’t totally know where we fit in with each other and with ourselves and that was the stuff I was drawn to.

    Q: Every project you’ve written so far has been female-driven. Is it a priority for you to center female leads in your stories?

    When I grew up and I was watching all of these Hollywood movies, all of the heroes were straight white men — always. I wanted to be the archaeologist digging up the big thing running away from the boulder. I wanted to have those big adventures and I never got to see it. Certainly as a mixed-race kid, I never got to see it… so I can’t help but want to fix that. I can’t help but want all of my leads to be female.

    Q: Producing is also a focus for you, and you already have a few projects in the works. Why is that next step so important?

    I want more control over the things that I do… I want to take control of stories and shape things, and put a spotlight on the things I care about. Barbara Hillary is the 87-year-old who became (at the age of 75!) the first black woman to go the North Pole, and who is currently prepping her next expedition to Northern Mongolia in March. I’m helping her with fundraising and we are working with a writer on her memoir, as well as developing a feature film, and a separate TV show about her early years. In addition, I’m also working with Matthew Baker to adapt one of his short stories into a feature. He will write, I will produce. He’s an incredibly talented author who I know will make a great screenwriter.

    Q: How much do you think about the impact your characters might have on young girls and boys who haven’t traditionally seen themselves reflected onscreen?

    I hope it has an impact. I hope that girls will watch [“Bumblebee”] and go, “I can be something that’s not one of these four boxes, I can be something in the middle!” and “I can have a big adventure.” It bums me out that it’s always the boy or the man that goes on the adventure and has the story, and the girl is the one that comes along for the ride — if they’re lucky. I wanted a girl behind the steering wheel, literally.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
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  2. agent j 15

    agent j 15 poopity-scoop

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    The one thing that always bugged me about Transformers was that it was always sort of a boys club, so the fact we’re getting a transformers movie written by a woman and with a female lead that (if this article is to be believed) doesnt fall into any of the stereotypes for female leads is fantastic. I’ll have to wait til I see the movie of course but this article just made me more hopeful not just for Bumblebee but the franchise as a whole
     
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  3. Novaburnhilde

    Novaburnhilde Neoseed

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    Hollywood's future is looking more and more bleak because of people like Mrs. Hodson here.

    But given that Hollywood is a blight on creativity and art in general these days, if she wants to quicken its demise, be my guest.
     
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  4. Sablebot

    Sablebot Autobot Media Scientist

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    I agree. . .just wish that Lorenzo was given the axe. . .
     
  5. snokoan

    snokoan Well-Known Member

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    so far lorenzo hasnt lied anything about the bee movie
     
  6. jackgaughan

    jackgaughan Internet Soldier

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    Christ we get it.
     
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  7. pie125

    pie125 Well-Known Member

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  8. Ash from Carolina

    Ash from Carolina Junior Smeghead

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    On one hand I'm liking the change we are seeing with female characters in movies. Way back in the Terminator 2 and Aliens day we thought okay we have entered the age when female characters are going to be kicking ass instead of being the prize for the male hero. But ouch seems like was a lot of wait between then and when Wonder Woman showed a woman kicking some butt can fill up the theaters.

    On the other hand if I buy a ticket for something called Transformers I'm buying a ticket because I want the robots to be cool. It would be nice if the human characters are at least somewhat likable but the make or break moment is what do I feel about the robots. Just not sure there is anyone talented enough to ever make me like Bumblebee. I'm a Decepticon fan so it's always a bummer that in all of these things they never really talk about the bad bots. At least with something like a superhero movie maybe they will talk about how cool their villains will be but villains in the Transformers movie universe seem like an afterthought of oh yea we included what's his face for the Autobots to kill.
     
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  9. Mglaighton120

    Mglaighton120 Well-Known Member

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  10. Sablebot

    Sablebot Autobot Media Scientist

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    Most of us (outside of the test-screening audiences) have not seen enough of the finished product to accurately gauge that yet. . . I still disagree: his redundant quotes about ,"the audience wanted this"(paraphrasing) are the typical suit-and-tie-wearing-executive-bean counter corporatespeak dripping with the fecal stench of the 1st 5 movies and the usual film industry bulli$h. . .

    I find Travis Knight's words more convincing. . .We'll all see if his actions fully match his words come December. . .
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
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  11. Shatter

    Shatter The Transformers Are All Dead.

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  12. Pepperonimus

    Pepperonimus Rest in Peace, Stan Lee

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    "The idea of me being able to make a Transformers movie and not see Cybertron? Come on. If they give the opportunity and money to do that I'm gonna do it. So yes, we see Cybertron and let me say: it is awesome"

    Travis Knight, SDCC'18​

    Aren't Shatter & Dropkick cool enough for you?

    Bumblebee has smaller cast, that might be enough for everyone to get decent screentime.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
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  13. Ash from Carolina

    Ash from Carolina Junior Smeghead

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    Feels like the cool factor from Shatter and Dropkick is coming from us fans wondering what the characters will do and how Hasbro is gong to do the toys.

    It would be nice if the director, writer, and other people were playing the villains up more. It seems like the director and the writer have an understanding of story telling so you'd expect them to have an understanding of why the villain is important to a story.

    Well and after the way the Decepticons were treated in the previous films it would nice to have more to go on about why this time might be different. It's like these creative teams get so into the Autobot stuff that they forget there are Decepticon fans out there. As a Decepticon fan sometimes you really wish there was a little less constantly gushing over the Autobots and little more why this time the Decepticons will achieve iconic movie villain cool.
     
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  14. Shatter

    Shatter The Transformers Are All Dead.

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    I’ve heard people from test screenings say that shatter and dropkick get a proper origin in the film so I think it’ll all be fine.
     
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  15. GirlBot

    GirlBot Mini-Cassette

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    I think that's the latest Hollywood trend: bland villains that are evil and that's all to them. The whole focus is on the (pretty bland themselves) hero and you can't have the villain stealing the show. While in the end it's not a big problem in most of the productions in Transformers it looks really bad. Personally, I like Autobots more, but there always was a good focus on Decepticons. They were quirky, had their opinions, argued with each other. It was not difficult to treat them as another character in the show and not just a villain. I'd love if some of the cartoon and comics portrayals were incorporated in the movies.
     
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  16. snokoan

    snokoan Well-Known Member

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    spoiler lol
     
  17. Shatter

    Shatter The Transformers Are All Dead.

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    No one knows the context of the origin whatsoever or how it’s shown so it’s not much of a spoiler
     
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  18. 96megatron

    96megatron Well-Known Member

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    Anyone hoping Diabla and Shatter are same character?
     
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  19. Shatter

    Shatter The Transformers Are All Dead.

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    Who is Diabla?
     
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  20. Shatter

    Shatter The Transformers Are All Dead.

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    Oh wait nvm lmao
     

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