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Peter Farrelly in Los Angeles

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As one half of the comedic duo who brought us Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, and Shallow Hal, it was no surprise that the few hours our class spent with Peter Farrelly during our visit to Los Angeles this past April turned out to be such a riot. Dressed down in jeans and a T-shirt, he walked back and forth in front of the screen of the theater where we had all gathered and began to describe his approach to pitching a script saying that he, “Never goes past the first act.” when selling an idea. “No one ever sells a script with the third act. If you talk too long, at a certain point you start talking them out of it.” he said.

As he went on to tell the story of how he pitched the idea for There’s Something About Mary, he demonstrated perfectly the attitude of relaxed enthusiasm and humor he encouraged us all to adopt when trying to get the right people excited about any project. His style of lecturing was somewhere between stand-up comedy and catching up with an old friend being simultaneously all over the place and completely riveting. And the guy is just so darn funny.

He told us all about his techniques for ignoring bad script notes from studio executives without them knowing, the time he found out Eddie Murphy wanted to make a movie with him by hearing him say so on Letterman, and even detailed all the different hairstyles they tried on Cameron Diaz for the now infamous hair gel scene in There’s Something About Mary. As I listened, I noticed that each piece of advice he had for us seemed to build on a theme of creating your own opportunities instead of waiting for someone else to give you permission to be successful. “I never tell anyone I’m trying to make something anymore. People don’t want to help you try. If you say to them, ‘I’m making this movie. You want in?’ suddenly they feel like their gonna miss the boat,” he said while describing how difficult it was convincing anyone to make Dumb and Dumber with him. “Just decide it’s getting made. How much is in your bank account? That’s the budget of your movie.”