This Sunday, the Film Institute at Montclair State University continued their Sundays with Scorsese event that features a four-part screening and discussion panel at the School of Communication and Media. Film critic and host Stephen Whitty presented “After Hours” (1985) with special guest Joe Minion, the screenwriter of the film.
Griffin Dunne stars as Paul Hackett, a word processor who travels to Manhattan’s Soho District where he meets the very attractive yet disturbing Marcy, played by Rosanna Arquette. As Paul goes deeper into Marcy’s crazy world, he finds himself in the middle of the worst night of his life.
After the screening, Whitty welcomed Minion to answer some questions about his thought process when writing the script for “After Hours.” Minion was very inspired by one of his favorite directors, Roman Polanski, and his film, “The Tenant.” Minion compared how he admires Polanski’s “The Tenant” to how film students today admire Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver.”
Minion also noted how he got inspiration from the Carol Reed film noir, “Odd Man Out.” He explained how he was inspired by James Mason’s character that was constantly on the run and how the film takes place entirely at night.
Minion moved on to talk about his personal inspiration for the film. He examined his fictional story of Paul Hackett’s struggle to get back home during one wild night to his own real-life difficulty trying to buy an apartment in New York when he was younger. Looking back at his life, he recalled how he was obsessed with trying to find his home in New York.
“It was really driving me crazy,” Minion said. “I felt this sort of rejection of trying and failing to get a home. That was the most important thing that I had first. I got to have a piece of mind, I got to have this place to hang my hat and I didn’t have that.”
Minion later explained how he felt this fear of not having a place in New York City and expressed it within the character of Paul Hackett, who represented his anxiety of the city rejecting him. Instead of bottling up his fears of failing to succeed in New York, Minion wrote a screenplay about a character experiencing the dread and horrors similar to his.
Audience members got a chance to ask the famous screenwriter questions, which brought out some insight as to how Minion writes. One question asked involved who the character Julie was inspired by.
“I’m Julie,” Minion said. “All the characters are parts of me.”
Minion integrated his own personal traits into the characters he wrote. Another question for Minion was how he came up with the wild and crazy situations in the film.
“Craziness comes easily to me,” Minion said. “Humor and laughter are what I find difficult to write.”
Many Montclair State students had very kind words to say about Minion’s discussion and the screening overall, including senior television and digital media majors Greg Miller and Annette Roldan as well as audio and sound design major Amanda Siess.
Having not seen the movie prior, they had no idea what they were coming into or what to expect. They admitted that they were not completely sold at first, but as the movie progressed, they found the dark comedy to be very enjoyable. The group of students found it interesting to learn how Minion got the ideas for the chaotic feeling of the film and how he established the characters.
The final screening of Sundays with Scorsese is this Sunday, Feb. 25 from 2-5 p.m. in the School of Communication and Media Presentation Hall. Whitty will be diving into Scorsese’s “Goodfellas.”