Will Reiser on his creative process, his work space and how difficult it can be to fictionalize a true account.
Where he writes: Anywhere, but his favorite place is his first-floor home office in Echo Park, which has a giant desk and a lot of Post-It notes full of advice. One note reads: "SPECIFICITY," while another says, "Go deeper, more emotional turns."
Instrument of success: Apple PowerBook, but he also sends notes on his BlackBerry and via email. "I used to hand write, but I've stopped — I'd find I'd lose things when I would hand write."
Germ of a notion: "50/50" is based on Reiser's own experience with cancer, and how one of his best friends, Seth Rogen, helped him through it. "One night we were at a party and joking and saying we should do a buddy cancer comedy," he says.
Working it up: Reiser says it was a challenge to "delve into the difficult moments I encountered. It was not easy going back and exploring those memories — it could be emotionally taxing at times. But, ultimately, it was therapeutic."
Final draft: After about a year of "more drafts than I can count — a few dozen at least," he had a script he was happy with. "You have to not be too precious about your real life," he says. "I wasn't writing a memoir, I was writing a movie."
End notes: The original title for "50/50," says Reiser, was "I'm With Cancer." An on-set contest generated a list of more than 900 title alternatives; Reiser credits costar Bryce Dallas Howard with coming up with "50/50."
— Randee Dawn