Issue 138, Spring 1996
Southern taught screenwriting at Columbia for several years.
His gentle, soft-spoken manner was reassuring. When I got my script back from him highlighted with yellow Post-it notes, I realized his keen perception hadn’t missed a thing. A fellow Texan, his masterful grasp and intimate knowledge of Texas slang helped reshape my wacky Texas characters into movie material. I rolled out of my chair with laughter when he crossed out bazookas like any high-school English teacher grading an essay and wrote in the margin, “Try hooters, knockers, tits or bazooms.” He was a stickler for good grammar. He told me to go for the outrageous, the exaggerated and never hold back for good taste. To illustrate this, he crossed out red dress and noted in the margin, “Never say just red dress. Be specific, ultra-revealing, micro-mini with fringe.”
He said not to worry if the story was too way out. It could always be modified later. From then on, I pushed everything beyond the limits of the ordinary and o…