Ed Klau was named the Grand Prize Winner of the Table Read My Screenplay - PARK CITY contest. The Table Read staff flew Ed out to Park City during the recent Sundance Film Festival, put him up in a posh little hotel and showed him around the beautiful ski and winter wonderland town of Park City. These were simply perks of his grand prize win, but the real value came from experiencing the full table read of his horror/thriller, BRIGHTS, read aloud by professional actors, directed by a professional director, and receiving immediate feedback from a participating audience.
Table Read My Screenplay is one of those contests that offers so much more than a simple cash prize or short coverage/feedback. They provide a true experience. Take a listen to Ed's response to his experience with Table My Screenplay and consider submitting your project to the upcoming HOLLYWOOD contest, where they will fly the winner out to Los Angeles for a round of not only industry experiences, but an impactful Table Read experience.
"Story" is such a vague word for an incredibly complex idea. What makes a compelling story? How do the intricacies of a story entertain? Have you ever wanted to ask these questions, but felt intimated? This live Q & A/interview gave our members the chance to not only learn from the best, but to ask the best.
Mr. McKee joined your fellow ISA members in a unique presentation with the master of Story. Robert McKee made himself available to answer all Story-related questions. It was interactive, open-minded, and an incredible learning experience. It was a rare opportunity to pick the brain of the truest of experts and spend time focusing on the most important aspect of the entertainment industry - Story.
Robert Mckee, a Fullbright Scholar, is the most sought after screenwriting lecturer around the globe. He has dedicated the last 30 years to educating and mentoring screenwriters, novelists, playwrights, poets, documentary filmmakers, and directors internationally. Peter Jackson has lauded him as "The Guru of Gurus". For the writers of Pixar, McKee's STORY Seminar is a rite of passage. Emmy Award-Winner, Brian Cox, also portrayed Mckee in the Oscar-nominated film ADAPTATION.
The ISA has been lucky to have hosted some wonderful guests for these podcasts, and we look forward to even more insightful and inspiring interviews, but this interview happens to be one of our more enlightening. Lewaa Nasserdeen is a staff writer on the series, The Goldbergs, and his tenacity, positivity, and overall love for the writing craft is something we can all learn from. His insights into the TV writer’s room and how to navigate its hierarchy, along with his experience applying for and being accepted into the Disney/ABC Writing Program are priceless.
A Canadian, Lewaa made his way to Los Angeles with the very clear intent to become a working writer. Still young and just beginning his career, he has already accomplished so much and we look forward to hearing more success stories from him. If you’re looking for an interview that will get you excited to write and work your way into this business, this is the one you should listen to. A big thank you to Lewaa, and if you’re into it, you should follow him on Twitter @LewaaNass and thank him for spending his time with us. Enjoy the interview.
Have you seen the shows, 24, Revolution, Fringe, Person of Interest, or Criminal Minds? Most of you probably have, or you’re well aware of how popular they were and are (though we're still sad Revolution was cancelled). Jon Cassar was the exec producer and director of multiple episodes on all of those shows! He’s a two-time Emmy award winner with his work on 24 and the mini-series, The Kennedys, and Jon was cool enough to sit down with Max Timm, Director of Community Outreach with the ISA, and talk about the TV industry, how to work your way up as not only a young writer, but a budding filmmaker, and to give a reality check as to just how difficult this industry really is.
It was kind of funny when Max asked him how a new writer can attempt to open doors. He was very real with his answer – he didn’t know exactly how! He reinforced that this industry is one of the most difficult to get into and much less make a living – as if we didn’t know that already - but with that reality check came an inspirational breakdown of his own rise through the ranks as a camera operator to now being a sought-after TV director. He’s also directing his own features with a movie coming out in the fall of 2016. He basically told us to stick to our guns, be persistent, and do whatever you can to knock down doors. Giving up is not an option. Enjoy the interview and as always, thanks for listening.
Many of our students have contacted us recently with questions about Meditative Writing: what it is, how it’s used, and how it can forever change the way you view writing.
So in this podcast, we’ve decided to give you all a free 30 minute sample of a meditative writing class with Jessica Hinds, recorded here in Costa Rica during our summer screenwriting retreat.
Jessica breaks down the structure of a scene from both a traditional and a meditative perspective, showing you how you can use meditative writing not only to get to the heart of your character and your story, but also to improve your craft and the structure of your movie.
On this podcast, rather than looking at movies in terms of two thumbs up or two thumbs down, we look at movies and we look at screenplays in terms of what we can learn from them as screenwriters. We look at good movies and we look at bad movies, we look at movies that we loved and movies that we hated.
Today we are going to be talking about the genre of movies that I affectionately like to call “The Big Dumb Action Movie,” with the latest installment of The Fast and the Furious franchise, Furious 7.
And, hopefully, we’re going to be looking at Furious 7 in a way that’s valuable not only if you’re a big action movie writer, but also if you are a writer in any other genre: if you are writing a thriller, if you are writing a comedy, if you are writing a drama, if you are writing an independent film or even if you are writing an art film.
In an odd way, “big dumb action movies” and super experimental art films actually have a lot in common. That’s because they both exist in a world of expressionism.
Oftentimes, when young writers sit down to write a movie, they think that most movies take place in the world of realism. But this is simply not true.
There are very, very few movies that take place in the world of realism.
Most movies actually don’t take place in the world of realism. They take place in a world of naturalism, which is a slightly heightened version of reality.
On this podcast, instead of thinking about movies in terms of two thumbs up or two thumbs down we like to think about movies in terms of what we can learn about them as screenwriters.
So we’re going to look at all kinds of movies. We’re going to look at good movies, we’re going to look at bad movies. We’re going to look at movies that we love and movies that we hate. But we’re going to look at them in a way that helps us to better our own writing.
Today’s movie is certainly one of the more controversial movies that are out right now: American Sniper by Jason Dean Hall. Let me just start off by saying that my politics are certainly not Clint Eastwood’s politics and that made American Sniper a hard movie for me. I think it made American Sniper a hard movie for a lot of people.
I’m not the kind of person who believes, as Chris Kyle says at the beginning of the movie, that there are three types of people in the world: sheep, wolves and sheepdogs. I’m not a person like Chris Kyle who believes that things are purely black and white, and that there’s very little grey. Watching a movie that cuts directly from planes crashing into the World Trade Center to the war of Iraq and makes that argument all over again, linking Iraq to the September 11th attacks, politically – that’s hard for me to watch.
That said, those are the politics of the main character, Chris Kyle. Those are the politics of a lot of people like him who went into this war, believing they are the heroes. Believing that the people they are fighting are savages, and as Americans, they are purely a force of good in the world.
There is something to be said about directing and writing a movie that looks at the world through the eyes of your protagonist. The hope of course, as you work on such an adaptation, is that even as you’re looking at the world through their eyes, you’re also maybe revealing something to the audience, and to yourself, that is even more complicated than the main character can see.
With us today is Ryan Engle. Ryan has accomplished so much since graduating from USC. In this interview Ryan discusses how he worked his way up through the ranks at Kopelson Entertainment, eventually running the company, and how he made the transition from full-time executive to full-time screenwriter. His stories about how he landed his first writing assignment are both entertaining and educational – it was fun chatting with him about the inner workings of the film writing world, and I think any writer can learn a lot from Ryan’s experience and know-how.
After his script ON A CLEAR DAY found its way onto The Black List, Ryan received multiple writing and rewriting assignments – most recently being hired to work on the upcoming children’s movie adaptation of the fun TV show, BEN 10, and for all of you arcade gamers out there, the movie adaptation of RAMPAGE. Ryan is still young with a very bright future ahead of him, and I think we can all learn a lot from how he has approached his career, and continues to find success. Enjoy and thanks for listening.
As one of our more distinguished guests, Stuart Beattie took a little time out of his hectic day to talk to us about writing on major studio productions. I wanted to get Stuart on the line because of his experience of course, but even though he’s written major studio films like Pirates of the Caribbean, I, Frankenstein and GI Joe, he still takes a simple approach to his writing – what makes for a great story? Regardless of the level on which a screenwriter is working, Stuart reminds us that it never supersedes the servicing of a script. In other words, Stuart’s insights on how best to take notes from executives, how to be and act in a meeting with an executive or producer, and just simply how to stay true to your own voice doesn’t or at least shouldn’t change no matter the level or budget of the project. Stuart’s work is at a very high level in terms of craft and expertise, but his attitude toward the process has never changed – it’s just all about what makes a great story. He talks a lot about what he believes makes a great, and he goes into how not to be too married to your work. Just get the work done, move on, and good things will happen.
It was fun chatting with a writer at the top of his game, and I hope that for all of you writers out there, you can learn something from Stuart’s dedication to the business and craft of writing. Thanks for listening, and thanks for being an important of the ISA membership. These podcasts are free, so don’t hesitate to spread the word and tell your friends. Happy writing.
This week, we’re going to be looking at one of the most critically acclaimed action movies in recent history: Mad Max: Fury Road.
Now, forget for a minute whether you love action movies or you hate action movies. Forget whether ultra-violent movies make you happy or they make you want to run for the hills because I want to talk about Mad Max: Fury Road in terms of the things that we can all learn from it, as screenwriters, regardless of the genre that we are writing in and regardless of the challenges that we’re having in our writing.
So, the first thing that you should notice when you’re watching Mad Max: Fury Road is that it ain’t about the plot. The actual plot of Mad Max: Fury Road is ridiculously simple: they drive out into the desert in search of the green place and then they drive back in the other direction. Literally. The only thing that really happens in this movie is that Mad Max and Furiosa head in one direction and then head back home.
Over his years in the entertainment industry, Jacob Krueger has worked with thousands of writers, actors, and other artists in pursuit of their artistic goals. Jacob is an award winning screenwriter, playwright, producer and director. Jacob’s screenplay, The Matthew Shepard Story (2002) won him the Writers Guild of America Paul Selvin Award and a Gemini Nomination for Best Screenplay. The NBC film, directed by Roger Spottiswoode (And the Band Played On), and produced by Goldie Hawn, was based on life of gay hate-crime victim Matthew Shepard. The film won Stockard Channing a SAG Award and her first Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress and Sam Waterston a Gemini Award for Best Supporting Actor. He has collaborated on original film musicals with Tony Award winning composers Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg (Les Miserables, Miss Saigon) and with four-time Academy Award Composer Michel Legrand (Yentl, The Thomas Crown Affair).
Neil Landau is an award-winning screenwriter, bestselling author, and professor in the MFA Screenwriting and Producing Programs at UCLA School of Film, TV & Digital Media; in addition to his 25 years of professional experience on writing staffs of some of TV's most successful TV series, Neil has also sold and developed pilots most of the major networks and studios (CBS, ABC, Lifetime).
Join Writers Boot Camp founder Jeffrey Gordon for a creative discussion on the topic of developing movie, television and web projects that are exciting audience experiences and worthy of A-List attention.
Daniel Calvisi and William Robert Rich, hosts of the Story Maps Screenwriting Podcast, will break down and discuss The Shawshank Redemption with a beat-by-beat structural analysis that explores its classical structure, as well as the non-traditional elements that break from the Hollywood norm.
Engaging the Feminine Heroic focuses on helping writers gain greater access to their own internal creative vision in order to write stronger and more compelling narratives. While most writers are familiar with the pattern of the Hero's Journey, its counterpart, the Feminine Heroic, may be difficult to recognize. Whereas the essential goal of the hero's journey is to discover, defend, and establish our Self in the world, the great achievement of the feminine quest is communion, connection and relatedness to the other in order to make meaning of our existence. Therefore, it isn't just grit or physical prowess that gives the feminine her heroic stature. It is her courageous ability to descend into the dark, forbidding places that lie within each of us in order to retrieve our essence.
The story of our humanity is encoded in all epic mythologies. They show us how we grow and evolve, face life's conflicts and obstacles, and must endure death experiences in order to create new life. In her groundbreaking work on the Feminine Heroic, Dara Marks utilizes epic mythologies as a means of helping writers experience the archetypal template upon which the drama of our shared humanity is written.
Great stories aren't masculine or feminine, they are a balance of both and understanding how toEngage the Feminine Heroic will add a great deal of substance and depth to any writer's palette.
Renowned screenwriting and story expert, Michael Hauge joins us to talk about the benefits of formula, and how it isn't such a bad word after all. Michael is one of the best, if not the best, so get a pad of paper ready and start your notes.
Michael has coached screenwriters, producers, stars and directors on projects for every major studio and network, most recently I AM LEGEND, HANCOCK and THE KARATE KID for Will Smith and Overbrook Entertainment; MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE for Columbia Pictures; BAKUGAN for Universal Pictures, and MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES, and LOVE, ROSIE for SONY Pictures and Constantin Film.
Michael Hauge is the best selling author of Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds: The Guaranteed Way to Get Your Screenplay or Novel Read, as well as the new 20th Anniversary Edition of his classic book Writing Screenplays That Sell.
Michael has a Masters Degree in Education from the University of Georgia. He has worked in Hollywood for the past 35 years, and has presented seminars, lectures and keynotes in person and online to more than 70,000 participants worldwide.
Documentary films have soared in popularity since Michael Moore's Roger & Me released in 1989. In a way, it almost seems simple; pick up a camera and start shooing something interesting. But as a documentary filmmaker, one has a distinct responsibilities as a storyteller. The filmmaker must make decisions about style, what to leave in and take out, the voice (or lack thereof) of the filmmaker and thousands of other choices that will take place up until the time that the film is complete. In Morgan Spurlock's Supersize Me (2004), he set out to explore the topic of the healthiness of McDonald's food, especially if eaten three times a day for 30 days. In this case, Spurlock made himself the center of the story by subjecting himself to the diet and documenting the results.
In this podcast, filmmaker and professor (Tribeca Flashpoint College) Bill Baykan talks about his documentary film, Public School Wars which is in the process of raising finishing funds on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. His film will explore the ideas and arguments around charter schools, Common Core, and what this all means for public education in the U.S. At the time of our conversation Bill is still developing his film and weighing different approaches based on the hundreds of hours of film he has already captured and considering what other elements he might need to produce a film that adds something insightful, new, and valuable to the conversation about education in this country.
Prior to our discussion about his film we cover a range of topics from "cutting the cord", filmmaking as a career in the digital age, UCLA, and his time at Harpo Studios as a Supervising Editor.
Bill's passion about his work, teaching, and this film is evident throughout the podcast. It is getting the chance to meet and talk at length with people like Bill that continues to inspire me to pursue my own projects and consider my place in the world as storyteller. I hope this episode does the same for you.
Tired of not getting any bites on your queries and pitches? Your idea is the bait: Find one that is both personal and commercial.
A great script with a dull idea is a dull script. Learn tools like Maginification, Flipping, Substitution, Cousins, Word Association, why High Concept is *Your* Concept, and find your personal themes in high concept ideas. This is "Pitchfest Season" and your pitch will live or die on its idea. Make sure yours is great! Don't write 110 pages on a bland idea. Find the idea that you love...and producers will love!
When you pitch your screenplay, the first thing they're going to ask is, "What's it about? What is the idea? The concept. Now it's up to your concept to get them to read the script. At a pitchfest, they listen to concepts all day long. When they read all of the inquiries, it's the same thing. You need a concept that rises above the rest. A high concept.
Some people mistakenly believe that high concept means high budget, but actually the opposite is true. A great high concept costs less to produce than a non-high concept screenplay. William C Martell has made a living for the past 25 years selling high concept screenplays to cable networks like HBO and Showtime, as well as to studios and indie producers. He will take you step-by-step through the process of finding the kind of idea that producers love...and that are personal stories. Sound impossible? All you need are the tools that this podcast provides and a great imagination!
A discussion with award winning screenwriter Jacob Krueger on what’s wrong with three act structure and other formulas, and an introduction to Jacob's notion of Seven Act Structure as a new way of looking at structure from a character's perspective, allowing you to break down the character's change into manageable chunks.
A lively conversation with two time Oscar nominee Pen Densham about his experiences and the insights he's gained from working in the entertainment industry as a writer, director and producer. We also talk about the craft of writing for film and TV and take listener questions about Pen's career and about his book, Riding the Alligator: Strategies for a Career in Screenplay Writing.
If you're looking for authenticity when it comes to writing your next "cop show" or movie, you can't miss this I.S.A. webinar featuring Sgt. Derek Pacifico. Sgt. Pacifico worked nearly 200 murder cases and honed his craft of interrogation to an art form. Learn his real-world techniques before you write one more scene.
Consultant and creator of WriteYourScreenplay.com, Jacob Krueger, discusses the nuances of the ever-dreaded PITCH.
Jacob is an expert on the art of pitching a project, much less an expert on story structure, character development, and then some. In this podcast, Jacob reviews the importance of your screenplay title - it being the most important "pitch" that you have. It's the only aspect of your pitch that everyone will hear and see. What's the first thing an executive sees when they look at your script? Your title. If your title is good enough, it will entice someone to give your script a read. That's the whole point of a pitch! A great title instantly communicates the "genre experience", and Jacob discusses how important that genre experience is in relation to your title and pitch.
Consultant and creator of WriteYourScreenplay.com, Jacob Krueger, discusses the nuances of the ever-dreaded PITCH.
Jacob is an expert on the art of pitching a project, much less an expert on story structure, character development, and then some. In this podcast, Jacob what it means to "sell from page one". Producers and readers want to find the diamond in the rough, but writers don't know how to "announce" themselves by page one. Writers need to grab the attention of every coverage reader, but readers have such limited time. It's the writer's job to sell that reader - not on the project, but to sell him/her on whether or not she will read it carefully or simply skim.
Consultant and creator of WriteYourScreenplay.com, Jacob Krueger, discusses the nuances of the ever-dreaded PITCH.
Jacob is an expert on the art of pitching a project, much less an expert on story structure, character development, and then some. In this podcast, Jacob discusses why pitches "go wrong" - writers tend to approach a pitch as a way to SELL a project. Jacob suggests directing your pitching approach by way of SHARING your project in order to see if someone is connecting to YOU and the project itself.