Write On: 'American Fiction' Writer/Director Cord Jefferson
January 18, 2024
“I think that approaching the grand things through the smallest entryways possible is the best way to go about taking on these massive issues… So yes, this movie is about race and racism and art and who's allowed to make certain kinds of art - these are really big, unwieldy issues. But the reason that I think people can relate to them –and it doesn't feel so top heavy or clumsy – is because you see it through a character that was deeply personal to me,” says Cord Jefferson, writer/director of American Fiction.
Based on the book Erasure by Percival Everett, American Fiction is a powerful and often poignantly funny exploration of race in literature, film, family and the marketplace. It toes the line between being relatable and absurd.
“I wanted to make a movie that felt satirical but never farcical. I wanted the movie to feel like life and life is neither one thing or another, it’s neither comedy nor tragedy,” says Jefferson who made the decision to use humor in the film but he never let the comedy get too broad.
Jefferson also talks about his journey from journalist – an editor at Gawker – to writing for TV shows like The Watchmen and Succession.
“If you can write an interesting article, you can probably write a novel. If you can write a novel, you can write a screenplay. I think that it's the same basic idea, which is you need to keep somebody interested in what you're saying from the beginning to the end and what is the best way to keep somebody interested in what you're saying for this long?” says Jefferson.
Take a listen to the podcast for a deep dive into the screenplay for American Fiction.
Written by: Shanee EdwardsShanee Edwards is an L.A.-based screenwriter, journalist and novelist who recently won The Next MacGyver television writing competition to create a TV show about a female engineer and was honored to be mentored by actress/producers America Ferrera. Shanee's first novel, Ada Lovelace: The Countess Who Dreamed in Numbers was published by Conrad Press in 2019. Currently, she is working on a biopic of controversial nurse Florence Nightingale. Shanee’s ultimate goal is to tell stories about strong, spirited women whose passion, humor and courage inspire us all.