When screenwriter Will Reiser 99S talks about writing, he sounds less like a scribe and more like a psychologist. “I psychoanalyze my characters. I need to know how the characters will behave from moment to moment,” he says. “It’s really important for me to empathize with them and understand their point of view.”
Reiser is in the midst of a cross-continent press tour for 50/50. The film, which Reiser wrote and executive-produced, stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogan in the story of an otherwise healthy young man dealing with his diagnosis and subsequent treatment for cancer. The film is a mix of comedy and drama, with a focus on the importance of friendship. 50/50 is loosely inspired by Reiser’s own battle with cancer in his 20s.
Reiser recently returned to Hampshire for the first time since graduating in 2003, offering an early viewing of 50/50 at a local cinema and speaking to students about the film and his career to this point.
“I took a lot of classes that really opened me up to understanding multimedia, taking classes with Abraham Ravett, Chris Perry, and Robert Seydel,” he says. “The student body was into exploring new ideas, new ways of presenting multimedia. There are so many resources at Hampshire, so many tools, so many collaborators.
“Going to school at Hampshire made me feel like I could choose what was best for me, that I didn’t need to be a cog in a system, and that I could dictate my own way,” he says. “It helped me develop my own narrative voice and feel confident about it.”
When he finishes promotion for 50/50, Reiser has multiple projects waiting, including a pilot for HBO and another collaboration with the production team of 50/50.
50/50 was nominated for a Golden Globe in the Best Comedy or Musical Motion Picture category. The film won the National Board of Review award for Best Original Screenplay. Reiser also won an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay.