Write On: Golda's Writer and Producer Nicholas Martin
August 25, 2023
The new film Golda – starring a bewitching Helen Mirren as Golda Meir, the Iron Lady of Israel, was written and produced by Nicholas Martin. Martin is best known for writing the 2016 film Florence Foster Jenkins. With two amazing biopics about strong, defiant women, Martin sits down with Final Draft to talk about how to find the moment that defines a character and how to focus the story on a short period of time instead of a cradle-to-grave saga. For Florence Foster Jenkins, it’s her journey to Carnegie Hall and for Golda Meir, it’s the 18-day Yom Kippur War. To Martin’s surprise, that focus on the war turned the film Golda into a thriller.
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“The structure was dictated by the phases of the war,” says Martin. “So, it was really a thriller and a war film rather than a personal drama about a woman’s struggle to command a nation at war. That’s what gave it its thriller shape.”
To pinpoint that moment, Martin turned to a quote from Winston Churchill.
“He famously said at the beginning of the Second World War, when he became Prime Minister, ‘All of my mistakes have brought me to this point.’ … And then I thought I think this is the same for Golda… We’ve got such a thumping narrative of the Yom Kippur War, such a clear beginning, middle and end and she’s under so much pressure, I think if we cut away from this it would dilute the tension and it would be mixing genres in a way. So, it seems that just sticking to this one story which is complicated enough, let’s try and keep it simple, tell this one story well,” says Martin.
Listen to this episode to find out more about Martin’s research process, how learning to use a spreadsheet upped Martin’s structure game, and hear why Meryl Streep threatened to never speak to Martin again while making Florence Foster Jenkins.
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.