The current issue of Vanity Fair has a bunch of terrific move-related pieces this month including this year’s fresh faces, a column about the women behind Disney’s classic animated features and a piece about The Making of Raging Bull. But as a screenwriting teacher, my favorite article was the one entitled “Sweet Bard of Youth” that focuses on the late filmmaker John Hughes.
The story traces his entire career, right up to his untimely death in New York City last year, and features a number of interesting insights into his writing process. I’ll let you read the entire article on your own but wanted to share the last passage of the article — no spoiler, don’t worry — that really illustrates just how dedicated to his craft he was.
The notebook that Hughes was carrying with him when he died, a red Smythson Panama, contained no new entry for August 6, though August 5 was filled with a detailed description of the hotel – as if setting the scene in a screenplay – and warm notes about his visit with his grandson. The family also recovered the camera that Hughes had been carrying on his last walk. It contained a few photographs he’d taken that very morning: neatly composed streetscapes. “It’s some small comfort to us that we know from the spot where the ambulance arried, and from where his last picture was taken, that it was a small distance – that it was sudden,” James says.
More comforting still, James says, is that “when he passed away, he was doing something he loved. He was out note-taking and observing” – even if the notes were mental and photographic rather than pen-to-paper. The point is: John Hughes never stopped writing until his heart stopped beating.”