1917 Screening with Co-writer, Krysty Wilson-Cairns


Director Sam Mendes with co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns on the set of 1917. Photo via Moviefone.

LAFS Screened 1917—Nominated for 10 Academy Awards Including Best Original Screenplay

As part of The Los Angeles Film School’s ongoing campus events, we brought the co-writer of 1917 to campus for a special screening and Q&A. 1917 won two Golden Globes for Best Director and Best Picture and is nominated for ten Academy Awards. After the screening, Oscar-nominated co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns spoke to a packed audience about the screenplay.

During the Q&A, Krysty Wilson-Cairns explained the geographical and technical journey required to make the film an immersive experience. Wilson-Cairns talked about how much she enjoyed the research phase of scripting. As a kid growing up in Glasgow, Wilson-Cairns was fascinated with World War I history.

“Weirdly what this script was trying to do, and in fact, every department was trying to do was disappear in this film,” said Wilson-Cairns.

Wilson-Cairns explained that as a writer you have to think how far you can push the audience into believing what they’re seeing before it starts feeling unrealistic. The pacing for 1917 was set in the script instead of the edit because the film didn’t have a traditional edit.

“When I was writing it, I had this little heart monitor kind of thing in my head,” said Wilson-Cairns. “Okay, I’ve had the audience probably about 90 beats per minute for a while now, I want to take it up to 110 and then I want to drop it back to 70.”

“You cannot fathom the cost of this war by reading it,” said Wilson-Cairns. “You cannot understand how little land was fought over, and to me, that was so integral to understanding the characters.”

Director Sam Mendes brilliantly delivers a nail-biting war drama that tells the story of two British soldiers on a life-threatening mission. Lance Cpl. Schofield and Lance Cpl. Blake are ordered to hand-deliver a message to the second battalion before dawn the following day. The fate of the British soldiers who have planned an attack on the Germans is in both of their hands.

Want to hear more about 1917 and Krysty Wilson-Cairns screenwriting process? Listen to the full story with Wilson-Cairns on Jeff Goldsmith’s podcast, The Q&A.