The Organic Outline: The Coen Brothers


The Coen Brothers

The Coen Brothers

Joel says:

‘It’s much more the case that there’s a discussion about what comes next extending a certain way into the script that often gets batted about verbally and then just gets written as opposed to writing it all down with one subset of A, B, C, D, and E, you know? It’s like, “Okay, this will happen, and it will lead to this, and then we don’t know what.”‘

Ethan agreed:

‘That’s true. It’s kinda mushy. We don’t do an outline in terms of mapping out the whole thing but then, on the other hand, we don’t exactly write scene A and then stop and say, “Ok, what’s scene B?”


Yeah, it might be, “Ok, this will happen and lead to this and this and then we get here, and we’ll figure it out.” If we’re writing scene B, we have some clear idea of what scene C might be and a slightly fuzzier idea of what D might be and a vague idea of what the ramifications of that might be – or maybe not. It just kind of falls off into darkness.’

From Wikipedia:

Joel David Coen (born November 29, 1954) and Ethan Jesse Coen (born September 21, 1957) known together professionally as the Coen brothers, are American filmmakers. Their films include Blood Simple, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, No Country for Old Men, and True Grit.

The brothers write, direct and produce their films jointly, although until recently Joel received sole credit for directing and Ethan for producing. They often alternate top billing for their screenplays while sharing film credits for editor under the alias Roderick Jaynes.