The journey of Dallas Buyers Club was much longer than from its world premiere in September 2013 at the Toronto International Film Festival to its glittering success at this month's Oscars.
"I met Ron Woodroof in 1992, and the movie of Dallas Buyers Club went into production in 2012," said the film's co-writer Craig Borten. "The story just spoke to my heart. Ron Woodroof started living his life when he started dying."
Woodroof, played to Oscar-winning perfection by Matthew McConaughey, was the reddest red-necked son of a bitch you could ever encounter. But his story of how he bucked the federal government to serve thousands of AIDS-stricken Texans became one of the year's best films.
"I love finding characters that you have to inhabit," said Dallas Buyers Club co-writer Melisa Wallack. "I know that actors say that a lot, but as a writer, you have to do that, too. Even if you take on some really dark material, you may find yourself living in that space, maybe for years. But you really have to get behind your work and go to that place to make it really good."
"That's right, it all started in Toronto," recalled Borton. "When they lifted the press embargo, some of the press reviews were like love letters. But I have to tell you, that's a very vulnerable place. We thought we were going to be slaughtered."
Not likely. Dallas Buyers Club went on to become one of the most acclaimed films of the year, garnering six Academy Award nominations.
In fact, Borten and Wallack were nominated for Oscars and Writers Guild awards.
"Honesty, we're both pretty happy that the award season is over," said Wallack. "It's pretty difficult to be writing at the same time. And we're thrilled to be here in Sun Valley."
Borten and Walack spent their Thursday afternoon—the Sun Valley Film Festival's opening day—talking to screenwriters, filmmakers and the general public about their industry and the art of crafting a screenplay.
"We're so happy to be here. We have friends who attended SVFF last year and they said you just have to be there," said Borten. "And here we are."