I’ve only seen American Sniper once, as part of an 11.11.14 double-header when Clint Eastwood‘s film was shown with Ava DuVernay‘s Selma. I’m mentioning this because today I spoke to Sniper‘s Oscar and WGA-nominated screenwriter Jason Hall following the Santa Barbara Int’l Film Festival writers panel, and he told me that the version I saw was a bit rough and incomplete and that a few slight trims were made for the final version. I resolved then and there to see it again, and soon. I was thinking about doing this anyway. Catch it with an audience of Average Joe ticket-buyers, I mean.

During this morning’s Santa Barbara Int’l Film Festival writers panel, held at the Lobero Theatre and moderated by Anne Thompson.

SBIFF writers panel moderator Anne Thompson, Imitation Game screenwriter Graham Moore, Theory of Everything screenwriter Anthony McCarten.

American Sniper screenwriter Jason Hall conferring with ten film students who are visiting SBIFF as part of Student Film Studies Program, launched this year by fest director Roger Durling

That’s me under the SBIFF projection inside Santa Barbara’s Lobero theatre. Pic snapped during this morning’s writer’s panel.

I also spoke with Whiplash director-writer Damian Chazelle about his next film, La-La Land, a Lionsgate-distributed musical with Miles “don’t be a pervert, man” Teller and Emma Watson. Chazelle is also working on a biopic about astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon and who also dared to be dull. This may or may not be Chazelle’s next project after La-La Land.

The SBIFF screenwriters panel, moderated by Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson, included Hall along with Graham Moore (The Imitation Game), Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything), Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler), Max Frye (Foxcatcher), Alexander Dinelaris (Birdman) and Damian Chazelle (Whiplash).

I also spoke to a group of ten undergraduate film students from around the country who are visiting the Santa Barbara Film Festival as part of a Student Film Studies Program. SBIFF director Roger Durling is taking them around and introducing them to journos, filmmakers and publicists. This afternoon one of them asked me what kind of writing I respond to the most, and I said “writing that’s not dull. And which is disciplined and well-sculpted. And which has a distinctive tone and personality.” The Gang of Ten also did a brief sitdown with Hall.

The ten students are Elizabeth Bowen (majoring in Critical Studies at USC), Alex McDonald (majoring in Writing for Screen and Television at USC), Caitlin Manocchio (majoring in Film Studies at Chapman University), Robert Smat (majoring in Critical Studies at USC), Bryce Cyrier (majoring in Creative Producing at Chapman University), Elius Kim (majoring in Film Studies at Chapman University), Michael Rodriguez (majoring in Film and Media Studies at Columbia University), Amy Hurwitz (majoring in Film Studies at Chapman), Kaeli Lynam (majoring in International Relations and Global Business/Cinematic Arts at USC), and Armando Barrios (majoring in Film at California State University at Fullerton).

I also attended a mid-afternoon producers panel, moderated by L.A. Times reporter Glenn Whipp, but I haven’t time to get into it as I’m late already for the Michael Keaton tribute at the Arlington.