'New Moon' Director To Speak at Writers Conference

The director of the screen writing conference at the 36th annual Southampton Writers Conference will interview Chris Weitz at Avram Theater.

Chris Weitz, the director of The Twilight Saga: New Moon, will be sharing tales of his trade Saturday at the at .

Annette Handley Chandler, the director of the screenwriting portion of the writers conference, plans to talk to Weitz about his wide range of films: how he has managed to handle gargantuan projects like 2007’s The Golden Compass to smaller art films including his recently released A Better Life.

“I’m fascinated by his career — the trajectory of his career,” Chandler said. She worked in Hollywood for 30 years producing films for Paramount Pictures, Disney, CBS and PBS.  

The Golden Compass, an adaptation of the first novel in Phillip Pullman’s fantasy trilogy, His Dark Materials, was in pre-production for 10 years, while Weitz worked on it for three, Chandler said.

“The logistics of pulling something like that off is incredibly daunting,” she said, adding that the special effects added to the work involved in the project.

Conversely, this year’s A Better Life, the tale of an undocumented citizen struggling to survive in America, was made on a much smaller budget, Chandler said. The challenge in that picture was shooting at 69 locations in 38 days, she said.

Chandler plans on broaching these topics — plus the making of “The Twilight Saga: New Moon on a budget of less than $50 million — with Weitz. The interview will be interspersed with clips from Weitz’s films. Weitz also co-wrote 1998’s Antz and co-directed American Pie and About a Boy with his brother, Paul.

Weitz, currently in Europe, is the son of fashion designer John Weitz and Sag Harbor resident Susan Kohner. Kohner was nominated for an Academy Award for 1959’s “Imitation of Life.”

Chandler’s interview of Weitz is the same evening the the conferences awards the Pakula Prize. The Pakula Prize, named for late director Alan Pakula, who had a home in East Hampton, is a scholarship given to two students enrolled in the screenwriting conference. Pakula is remembered for his films All the President’s Men and Sophie’s Choice, among many others.

Weitz is the fourth in a list of big Hollywood names who have spoken on the the Pakula Prize evening, including Robert Benton, Peter Hedges and Alexander Payne. Benton wrote Bonnie and Clyde, while Hedges wrote What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. Alexander Payne won an Academy Award for best screenplay for Sideways.

The on-stage Chris Weitz interview with film clips is open to the public. Tickets are $10 per person, payable by cash or check at the door. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 9, at the Avram Theater on the Stony Brook Southampton campus. For reservations, call 631-632-5152 or visit www.stonybrook.edu/avram.


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