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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cupcakes in Heaven

My friend and my mentor Blake Snyder, author of the seminal screenwriting book Save the Cat passed away suddenly today of a cardiac arrest. Blake was 57 years old. As I write this, tears come to my eyes because Blake was one of my earliest and most powerful mentors. We were simpatico; we shared the same philosophy. I learned a lot from Blake about the importance of being passionate and loving what you do. He was such a tall, elegant, peaceful soul. I'll miss his kindness and his advice and his presence in this community.

This is how I first met Blake. I was at the premiere party in Beverly Hills for the newly launched Script Magazine. I saw this very tall man sort of standing there awkwardly. Being the social gal that I am, I figured I'd go say hi and alleviate his apparent solitude. I sashayed over with my drink. Hi, I'm Julie, what's your name? Blake smiled a secret smile. Blake Snyder. I turned beet red. What an idiot to not know him. I don't remember what I said by way of trying to regain my dignity but I do remember that he laughed graciously, never made me feel stupid for my blunder, and went on to ask me all about myself in such a way that I soon forgot my earlier embarrassment. That typified Blake. He was a true gentleman.

Last year, he met Hilary Graham, our Silver Screenwriting winner, and me at the Chateau Marmont for a drink. He was so dapper in his black turtleneck and black slacks. He ordered nothing but water, I remember. He was so kind to Hilary, asking her about her writing and offering her anecdotes and advice and delighting in her ideas and her success. He stayed as long as he was needed and then some. He never asked anything in return.

The last time I saw Blake was a few weeks ago at the Great American Pitch Fest. I introduced him to my daughter, the Mini-W (who had taken his class earlier that day). Though he was surrounded by people wanting to say hello, he took a moment, shifted all the things he was holding in his arms, shook my daughter's hand and gave her that winning smile of his. Hope you liked my class, he said.

I'll miss you Blake. You set the example that I follow every day. You were passionate about story, you loved writers and you did it all with joy in every step and a smile on your face that I will never forget. Thank you for being my mentor. Thank you for being my friend.

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Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

such sad news. I'm sorry that you have lost a friend and a mentor. I hope you'll respecfully move on with your loss.


Trina0623 said...

So sad to hear that. I was a fan of his books and they helped me a lot. When I read "Save the Cat," it was like a light bulb moment. I'm sure he is happy for that legacy to so many.
Thanks for sharing your anecdotes, Julie.

Chaia Milstein said...

I just always figured I'd have a chance to say thank you. So sad.

Stan said...

Blake definitely made an impression on me with both the idea of saving the cat and his book. He taught us that the hero of our story needs to impress the audience some way, for us to follow after them with interest on their journey. He will be missed.

Dave Shepherd said...

He has my full respect for attempting to help so many of the writing community.

It's sad to lose any member of the community, especially one who was so willing to help others.

I think if there's two things people should take from this they are --

Always give back to the community.

And write.

Mike said...

What a shock!

I'm so sorry for you loss, Julie -- for our loss. I was a follower of his blog, read both of his books -- even bought his software. All great.

We all have so much more to learn and he had so much more to teach us.

Keep Writing!

Kim Nunley said...

Blake's first book was what made me start to believe that I could actually become a screenwriter.

I saw him speak once, and he was just as inspiring as in his books.

I'm sorry that you've lost a close friend, Julie. I will be thinking about you and your daughter.

Mark Roberts said...

I'm shocked and sad to hear this. In a sea of books which offer much the same advice, his Save the Cat! took a different approach to genre that really helped generate creative ideas.

I feel like I've lost a friend that I've never met.

Joe Public said...

Boy has this been going around lately. So sorry to hear about your loss.

If it's any comfort, my Irish mother always says "it's sad on our side, but on theirs, there's a whole troop(maybe a troupe) of friends and relatives waiting up there to greet us with open arms."

Hope that adds some level of comfort.


Christian H. said...

Now I feel bad for not "Saving the Cat" enough. :-(

He had some great insights. Unfortunate.
Condolences to the Snyders.

Luzid said...

This is terrible news. I'd just started talking with him via email over the past few months (he liked one of my ideas and was going to give me his manager's email when I was ready to show it). A kind, generous, funny man with a real nuts-and-bolts approach to story.

He'll be missed. I'm sorry for your, and our, loss.

Stephen Todoro said...

Blake was one of the kindest, most genuine people I have ever known. Thanks for sharing your experience of knowing him. It was very accurate in expressing who Blake Snyder was; and further supports what everyone says about the man who exemplified such class and dignity the way he did. I have the joy of working on a script that he has been a part of and this only fuels my fire to create the best possible story in honor of the ultimate Cat! He was truly one of the good ones, and will be missed. Yeah, I still can't believe it...

hgraham said...

I've been on vacation and I just read the very sad news. I am so sorry to learn that Blake is no longer with us. As Julie describes, Blake was kind enough to meet me for drinks at Chateau Marmont last year as part of my prize for winning the Silver Screenwriting contest. Thanks to Julie Gray, for arranging this meeting.

Blake was so friendly, sincere, kind, and encouraging. He was more than happy to share his wisdom with me, and enthusiastically listened to my story telling me that he thought I was headed in the right direction. He seemed to genuinely take pleasure in helping a new writer break through, and his belief in me is something that I still carry with me.

Also, I think SAVE THE CAT is one of the most pragmatic screenwriting books around--one that I have turned to time and time again. It was just last week that I was recommended SAVE THE CAT to a friend....

Blake will be missed, but his legacy will endure.