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Ferris Bueller: John Hughes and Speedwriting

John Hughes: “How did I come to write Ferris? Well, let’s see. There was a writer’s strike coming up in a week and my agent called and warned me, so I thought, ‘Jeez, John, you better write something,’ and so I got this sentence… out of the ozone. ‘I am 17 years old and I know exactly where my life is going.’ And then I thought, ‘I am 17 years old and I have no idea where my life is going,’ and I thought, ‘That’s it!’”

“I called Ned Tanen at Paramount and said, ‘I want to do a movie about a kid who takes a day off from school and… that’s all I know so far.’ Ned knows me, and so he said, ‘Aw, go ahead.’ So I went ahead.”

Hughes whipped up a script in the week remaining before the strike. “It takes me about four days to write one of these things,” he said. Hughes would write for 20 hours at a stretch while sitting at his computer trying not to think about what he was writing, but instead “to surprise myself throughout.”

Ferris Bueller’s producer Tom Jacobsen attested, “The stories of John’s speed-writing scripts are all true.”

“I know how the movie begins, I know how it ends,” said Hughes. “I don’t ever know the rest, but that doesn’t seem to matter.”

Hughes added, “It’s not the events that are important, it’s the characters going through the event. Therefore, I make them as full and real as I can. This time around, I wanted to create a character who could handle everyone and everything.”

Sources:
“John Hughes’ Rational Anthem: I Won’t Grow Up,” Chicago Tribune, 6/8/86
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off Production Notes
The Making of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off DVD Bonus Feature

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