02 January 2012

Schrader's outline for Raging Bull

Paul Schrader’s heavily marked-up outline for “Raging Bull” for which he shared writing credit with Mardik Martin.
“It’s part of the oral tradition,” Mr. Schrader said of his process. “Rather than writing my way through an outline, I tell my way through, and then each time I tell it, I re-outline it.”As the “Raging Bull” outline shows, Mr. Schrader had the thrust of each scene, as well as key lines of dialogue (“If you win, you win. If you lose, you still win.”) already worked out before he sat down to write. (Alas, we couldn’t tell from this image how much of Jake La Motta’s helpful description of how to cook a steak had been composed at this stage.)Mr. Schrader also gave an estimated page length for each scene as well as a final count and a running tally of total pages, which he said was crucial for pacing.“It’s very important to calibrate these events and when they’re happening,” he said. “Somebody says, ‘I don’t know why this scene doesn’t work,’ and you say to them: ‘It’s very simple. It should have happened 10 pages earlier. Then it would have worked.’”The final shooting script for “Raging Bull” was “more or less” what was submitted, Mr. Schrader said, though Mr. De Niro and the director Martin Scorsese made further changes during filming. “The only way you could get a final draft of that screenplay,” Mr. Schrader said, “would be to transcribe it from the screen. As opposed to ‘Taxi Driver,’ which is actually quite close to the script.”

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