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Philly2Philly talks with Local Screenwriter Scott Neustadter as 500 Days of Summer comes to DVD


This summer presented fans of the silver screen the opportunity to see a host of great films which will last in the viewing memory for a lifetime. Local screenwriter Scott NeustadterPerhaps the one film that truly stood out from the rest was “500 Days of Summer.” Written by Margate, New Jersey resident Scott Neustadter, the film was released to great fanfare this summer and now has even exceeded the expectations of its entrance upon the silver screen with a DVD release of December 22nd, which has audiences ordering the movie well in advance to make it the perfect stocking stuffer.

The film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays Tom Hanson. Hanson is a young greeting card writer who was trained to be an architect. However, he's now working a job he doesn’t love but somehow finds love when the girl of his dreams named Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel) becomes the new assistant to his boss. One chance meeting in an elevator on their way out from work when Tom is listening to the famed band “The Smiths” sparks an unspoken attraction when Summer reveals she is huge “Smiths” fan and the plot takes off from there.

While we won’t delve too much into the plot for fear of spoiling the story (because this film is well worth the price of admission), we will say that “500 Days of Summer” is one of the most unique takes on romance to hit movies theatres in quite some time and touches upon scenarios we have all been in and strikes many chords deep inside of our hearts and souls.

While the film has many powerful points, the most powerful scene comes towards the end of the picture when there is a split screen with one side saying “Reality” and the other side saying “Expectations.” At this point of the film, Tom is at a crossroads and different emotions are consuming him. This risky and spectacular approach leaves the viewer becoming captivated with the realization that they are sitting through something that will be talked about for decades to come.

We had a chance to sit down with the films writer Scott Neustadter and ask him some questions about his film.

Philly2Philly: Is it true that Tom Hanson is based on your character?

Scott: Most of the stuff in the movie was taken from real life. And then we made the decision to tell the story through several unreliable filters -- memory, one-sidedness (Tom is telling us this story and so we only get his version), naïveté, pop culture. Hopefully the audience starts to realize mid-way through that, true as these moments may seem, Tom isn't exactly the most reliable narrator.  Joseph Gordon Levitt and Zooey Deschanel in "500 Days of Summer"

P2P: I remember reading you always wanted to be a filmmaker, is this true?

Scott: I always loved movies and always wanted to find some way to be a part of that world. Writing was a pipe dream that I dismissed very early on and decided instead to focus on becoming a producer. I was lucky enough to land a development job when I was 21 and worked there long enough to realize that I did want to write after all.

P2P: Would you say writing this film was a more of a difficult or enjoyable process?

Scott: There were definitely frustrating and difficult moments but overall it was a truly fantastic experience from start to finish.

P2P: Michael Weber co-wrote this piece with you. How do you know Michael and what made the two of you decide to complete this work?

Scott: I met Michael at my development gig 10 years ago when I hired him to be an intern at our company. We had a similar sense of humor and were both terrible at our jobs, so we decided on a whim to write something and see what happened. The result was a comedy about death that was actually sort of funny but will never see the light of day. In any case, that experience was fun enough that we tried another one and 500 was the result.

P2P: Are there any films you’re working on currently? What can Philadelphia and New Jersey residents expect to see from Scott Neustadter in the future?

Scott: We have several projects in various stages of development. One is a comedy called "Underage" that Paramount wants to make. There's also a script called "Cecilia" that we're rewriting for Warner Bros. We're also very excited about this book adaptation we wrote called "The Spectacular Now," which will reunite us with Marc Webb and Fox Searchlight.

A local boy with a classic film. “500 Days of Summer” is a movie the world will be talking about for many winters to come.


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