Interview with renowned writing consultant, Jen Grisanti:
A Mexican-Norwegian-American from Milwaukee, Gina Lucita Monreal spent five years writing, acting, directing, and producing in the Chicago theater community. Her play Jack-In-The-Box was produced at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and she co-founded Infamous Commonwealth Theatre—a nonprofit that continues to thrive. A year of research on the captive elephant resulted in Gina’s play, Big Dreams, which received multiple productions and was supported by grants from The Culture and Animals Foundation and Illinois Arts Council. Gina recently earned her MFA through USC’s Writing for Screen & Television Program and participated in the NBC, CBS, and National Hispanic Media Coalition TV writing programs. Through last year's ABC TV Writing Fellowship, she was staffed on Brothers & Sisters, where she co-wrote three episodes. Currently, Gina is thrilled to be a Producer on CBS's NCIS.
TOPICS OF DISCUSSION
· Being new in the writers’ room
· Lessons learned
· Meeting deadlines
Renowned Consultant, Jen Grisanti, interviews Dan O'Shannon:
Dan has written for some of the most acclaimed network comedies such as Newhart, Cheers, Frasier, and Modern Family. His various awards include but are not limited to 4 Emmys, 2 Golden Globes, 5 WGA awards and an Academy Award nomination. O'Shannon has also lectured in at UCLA, USC, and other colleges, taught a course on writing at Cleveland State University, where he holds an honorary doctorate. In addition to writing television since 1985, Dan O'Shannon is the author of a book
about comedy theory-- ''What Are You Laughing At? A Comprehensive Guide to the Comedic Event," published by Continuum International Publishing Group (2012.) The book examines what comedy is and why we respond to it the way we do and has been adopted by universities across the country.
TOPICS OF DISCUSSION
· How therapy helps writing
· Life after running a show
· A writer’s psyche
Renowned Script Consultant, Jennifer Grisanti interview: Alex Cary was raised in London, spent seven years in the military, and came to Los Angeles fresh from the Gulf War in search of a career in TV & Film. In 2007, he was staffed on FX’s “The Riches,” then went on to USA’s “In Plain Sight,” before being hired on Fox’s “Lie To Me,” where he started as a story editor, quickly graduated to executive producer and finally showrunner - all in one season. Alex is now in his second season as an Executive Producer of Showtime’s thriller, Homeland.
TOPICS OF DISCUSSION
· Being a showrunner
· Preference for writing material
Award Winning Screenwriter Jacob Krueger shows you what it takes to pitch like a professional. Learn the elements of a killer logline and an irresistible pitch, and how to turn your script into producer candy, without “selling out” or sacrificing your voice as a writer.
Television has entered a new golden age. And it’s all about original content. Which means for writers and creators, television is the place to be. TV shows and webisodes can be produced quickly (relatively speaking) and viewed globally by millions of people. Producers, agents, managers, and executives are all scrambling to find the next big hit. It could come from you.
In Write To TV: Perfecting Your Television Pilot with special guest Martie Cook you’ll learn how to:
In Write To TV: Perfecting your Television Pilot you will also gain practical advice from studio and network executives, agents and managers, and Oscar and Emmy-winning writers on how write the best pilot possible and increase your chances of making that big sale.
ABOUT MARTIE COOK
Martie Cook has over three decades of experience as a respected writer and producer of television and film. She has worked for all four major networks and PBS as well as for Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures, and Universal Studios.
A member of the Writers Guild of America West, Cook has written for hit television shows such as the top-ten Nielsen rated Full House, and the cult classic, Charles in Charge. She has served as a writer/producer for Entertainment Tonight, America's Most Wanted, and the PBS Emmy-award winning children's show Zoom. Recently, she sold an idea for a pilot to Jerry Bruchkeimer Television, Warner Bros., and NBC.
Cook currently teaches screenwriting at Emerson College in Boston, MA, where she also serves as Associate Chair in the Visual and Media Arts Department. Cook’s critically acclaimed book, Write To TV: Out of Your Head and Onto the Screen, Second Edition (Focal Press/Taylor & Francis Group) is used by professional writers, in college classrooms, and by budding writers alike.
As an executive, Adam Levenberg worked with A-list talent and writers on scripts, projects, and pitches. As an independent consultant, Adam opened his business to unrepresented screenwriters and recognized there was information they needed to know that wasn't covered in books on the market. As a result, Adam wrote THE STARTER SCREENPLAY: AN EXECUTIVE'S PERSPECTIVE ON SCREENWRITING.
Jonathan was awarded $1,000,000 in the 2012 Doritos "Crash the Super Bowl" commercial competition. His commercial was aired during the game and placed #1 on the USA Today ad meter. In 2002 Jonathan co-wrote, produced, directed, and edited the independent feature film MOVING. Called “one of the funniest independent films of the year” by FilmThreat Magazine it won “Best Screenplay” at the Digital Visions Film Festival.
Anyone can tell a story. We do it everyday. "You won't believe what happened to me at work." The problem comes in telling a great story. If you want to become a master storyteller you have to have a deep and precise understanding of subject, and the ability to translate your understanding into a story. John Tuby can teach you how.
Jeff Bollow is a producer/director, author, film festival organizer and public speaker. He has been in the film industry since age 12, starting as an actor before doing nearly every job in production (including experience in development, post-production and distribution).Through his production company, Jeff has reviewed over 15,000 project submissions, and has edited, assessed or mentored over 350 projects.
“Meditative Writing truly is “assisted self-discovery.” For the same reason writers should take acting classes, Meditative Writing helps you get down into your body, to work a scene or character from the inside out. The practice has applications even beyond writing, into directing, pitching, and just being in the world. This class and subsequent practice has been extremely helpful to me in my work.”
– Christine Boylan, Writer, “Leverage,” “Castle,” “Once Upon A Time”
Who Will Benefit From Meditative Writing?
Whether you are brand new to writing, or a seasoned writer looking to inject energy back into your writing, meditative writing will change your writing life forever.
Designed for writers of all types, including screenwriters, playwrights, poets, novelists, and writers of any other genre, here are just a few of the many benefits of this approach
Want a career in ten years? Flashback, nonlinear, ensemble and multi-plot structures are now mainstream in film and TV. You'll need them.
In this revolutionary course, award-winning writer Linda Aronson cracks the code of complex films like Pulp Fiction, 21 Grams and Memento, showing they aren't aberrations or 'devices' but structures in themselves, falling into six families. She explains that they work by multiplying, fracturing and reconstituting the one-hero chronological model according to patterns, patterns so predictable that writers can use them as templates for film, new generation TV series, games and cross media. Eureka!
Ever been told that flashbacks are lazy? The sign of a bad writer? TV has been using multiple stories, multiple protagonists and interweaving for ever, while flashback and ensemble films are so mainstream they routinely figure in the Oscars. Yet still we’re told that one hero on a chronological journey is the only game in town.
Unconvinced, British scriptwriter Linda Aronson watched and rewatched nonlinear and ensemble films to find out why some worked and others didn’t - and she cracked the code.
In this truly revolutionary course, she shows that these films are not aberrations and or 'devices', but structures in themselves, falling into six families. She explains how nonlinear and ensemble films multiply, fracture and reconstitute the one-hero chronological structure according to patterns so predictable that writers can use them as templates - for film, new generation TV series, games and cross media. Eureka! Suddenly, these previously inexplicable structures are doable, even for new writers. Suddenly, and amazingly, writers have a dazzling new range of storytelling options at their fingertips.
Out of her extensive practical TV experience, Linda also explains ways you might use fractured narrative
- to reinvent overworked film genres, - to introduce suspense into predictable plotlines - to reinvigorate long running TV serials; - as a structural shape for an entire TV series (so that, for example, you could create a TV series using a Pulp Fiction style structure)
She discusses hybrid films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which combines one flashback story with one ensemble story, since hybrids in these forms are developing all the time.
And since none of these films are easy, she also explains what can go wrong and how to prevent it.
Ensemble and nonlinear writing are now everywhere and their use will increase. The one hero chronological journey model is no longer enough. This genuinely revolutionary course will show you the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of techniques everyone will have to master. So start now.
Linda Aronson BIO
Described by Linda Seger as ‘one of the most important voices in screenwriting’, British writer/ script consultant Linda Aronson teaches widely on the international screenwriting ‘guru circuit’ and is regarded by many as the world expert on nonlinear scriptwriting. She has credits for feature film, TV drama series, serials, mini-series, children’s TV, drama documentary, stage plays, four novels and short stories. She has often been employed to create TV drama series’ and has judged the Emmys. More recently, she has started advising on cross-media and is currently writing experimental immersive VR screenplays as well as mainstream scripts. Her screenwriting books The 21st Century Screenplay (translated into Polish and Czech) and Screenwriting Updated are required reading at many film schools internationally, including NYU and Berkeley. Teaching includes NYU, Columbia, Berkeley, American Film Institute, The Great American Pitchfest and many film schools and professional bodies elsewhere, including NFTS, London Screenwriters’ Festival, Swedish Film Institute, Swedish TV and BBC TV
For more information about Linda Aronson see Linda Aronson www.lindaaronson.com
Is there a mathematical element to comedy writing? For most of us creative types, we would hope there isn’t simply because it may bring back nightmarish flashbacks of high school trigonometry or something, but in this interview with stand-up comedian and comedy writer, Ian Edwards, Ian discusses the specifics of how a joke is constructed, but equally so, how important it is to just “feel it”. There is an emotional connection to writing that most writers naturally understand, and it’s important to stay connected to that gut feeling, but Ian reminds us how important hard work and a constant dedication to the craft is equally essential.
We talked about Ian’s adventure rising through the comedy ranks, even going as far back as first telling jokes through a Burger King drive thru. Like all writers, Ian evolved his personal voice over years of practice, but what I loved was that he admitted that any writer’s voice naturally changes as he or she grows and changes. So while the industry at large says, “you have to find your voice”, Ian’s ultimate statement here is that we really just need to be in tune with ourselves and how we naturally change through the years. And after Ian worked his way through the New York comedy scene, he brought his voice to Los Angeles eventually writing for shows such as The Cartoon Network’s “The Boondocks”, Adult Swim’s, “Black Dynamite”, the CBS hit “Two Broke Girls” and most recently ABC’s “Black-ish”. Ian is more than just a funny guy – he’s a talented writer, a dedicated writer, and is on a positive trajectory toward stardom. We’re honored to have him on, and if you want to get more of Ian and his comedy, you can find him in multiple ways! He’s on Twitter @IanEdwardsComic, you can get his comedy album, “100% Half-Assed” at Conan O’Brien’s label, records.teamcoco.com, or if you’re a soccer fan, you can listen to Ian’s own podcast series called “Soccer Comics” at AllThingsComedy.com.
Thank you for listening to the ISA’s Curious About Screenwriting podcast. Please remember to share our interviews with your friends, rate us on iTunes, and if you would like to follow the interview’s host, Max Timm, you can find him on Twitter @iMaxTimm or Instagram @InstaMax9. Thanks again, and enjoy.
Do you need to be in Los Angeles to consider yourself a screenwriter? Do you need to be in Los Angeles to write a movie that launches your career? Do you need to have an agent or manager to place in screenwriting contest? I think you’re seeing what the trending answer here is – no. “DIY Filmmaking” is no longer a niche or novelty. “Do it yourself” is the key to that term! John Cassavetes made films for low money. So did Orson Wells, who made bad wine commercials to finance his low-budget Shakespeare adaptations. Robert Rodriguez literally wrote the book, and major directors like Spike Lee and Aronofsky got their starts on the cheap. Credit-card filmmaking has been around forever, the watchword being filmmaking. These early low-budget efforts were all shot on film-- which then brings us to what is new in the equation: TECHNOLOGY.
Hollywood. Home of the true 1%. Behind this gated community are the kidney-shaped pools and impeccable hedge rows. The million-dollar mansions and Lamborghini excess. The Country Club of which you are most definitely not a member. You cannot apply to this club. The gatekeepers know you are not of their cloth. They can smell you. You are the Unwashed. They can smell your wanting, your desperation to join them on the inside. They have set up impenetrable motes and ramparts to stop you. How will you scale these walls?
The Curious About Screenwriting podcasts have recently been focusing a lot on the changing trends of the industry – there are big changes currently occurring in Hollywood. So much is shifting – not only from the big screen to the small screen, but technology is allowing writers to create their own material for little to no money. There is a paradigm shift happening right now, and Paul Peditto, long time script consultant and adjunct professor at Columbia College Chicago talks with our co-host, Laurie Lamson, and dives into how the industry is changing and how writers can take advantage of it. So grab your pen and paper, be ready to take notes and be inspired. You do have power, and you can control your writing career. The ISA is here to help.
Share our podcasts, rate us on iTunes, and enjoy the show. Thanks for listening.
SYS Podcast Episode #83: Screenwriter / Producer Alan Trezza Talks About His New Film Burying The Ex
Screenwriter and producer Alan Trezza talks about how he got his new film, Burying The Ex, produced. He talks us through the process of writing the screenplay, getting rejected, and ultimately producing the film himself. It’s a great lesson in screenwriting persistence.
SYS Podcast Episode #82: Erik Bork (Band of Brothers) Talks About His Career As Screenwriter And Producer
In this episode of the podcast I talk with writer and producer Erik Bork. He talks us through his entire career, starting out as a temp worker and eventually winning an Emmy Award on the hit HBO show Band of Brothers.
SYS Podcast Episode #81: David Garrett Talks About The Importance Of Relationships To A Screenwriter And How To Make Those Relationships
Screenwriter (and lawyer) David Garrett talks through exactly how he sold several of his scripts without the benefit of an agent or manager. He also talks in depth about relationship building and how important relationships are to a screenwriter at every level.
SellingYourScreenplay.com Podcast Episode #80: Writer Director Antonia Bogdanovich Talks About Her New Film Phantom Halo
Writer and Director Antonia Bogdanovich talks about her new film, Phantom Halo. She talks through her early career as an actress, journalist, theater director, and filmmaker and the process of how she got this film produced.
Have you heard of Sharknado? What about Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus? Maybe you watch Z Nation on the SyFy Channel. I’m assuming you’ve heard of these shows, but most may not know the brain trust behind them. The Asylum is a Burbank-based production company that specializes in what they call “mockbusters” – stories that play off of big blockbuster movies that then play to a niche audience. Recently The Asylum has grown into more than just a niche audience-only company. Having been around for 17 years and produced over 300 films in that time (an incredible statistic, by the way), The Asylum is well on its way as a major player in this ever changing industry.
Micho Rutare is the development director and executive at The Asylum, and we had him on to discuss more than just the cult craze that Sharknado was and still is. He talked about the importance of character even within their mockbuster films, and even though there is a specific audience to which they tailor their product, the same story-specific ideals and elements play a big role in their project development. The advice Micho gives us writers and burgeoning filmmakers is hopefully enough to inspire you to keep moving forward with your creative endeavors – it certainly inspired me. With the ways this industry is constantly changing, there are so many opportunities for new writers and filmmakers, and the ISA hopes it can be a part of your ongoing process of creative evolution.
Hosted by the ISA’s Director of Community Outreach, Max Timm, the ISA delivers this podcast series to you for free. Our only wish is for you to go to iTunes, review and rate the podcast series, and share this invaluable content with your friends. You can follow Max on Twitter @iMaxTimm, or find him on Instagram @InstaMax9. Thanks for listening.
What generates real comedy? Is there a secret recipe to making people laugh? Maybe it isn’t really a secret, but veteran TV producer, Victor Hsu, believes comedy is derived from honesty, emotional truth, and getting to the heart of a character’s reaction within relatable situations. Victor has produced some of the most memorable shows on TV, from first jumping in on MacGyver, to his work on the cult favorite, Freaks and Geeks, and winning a Primetime Emmy for Arrested Development, he continues to deliver not just quality entertainment, but memorable hits with the Billy Crystal and Josh Gad series, The Comedians (which I’m still sad was cancelled), to the Amazon series and critical success, Transparent.
I asked him what draws him to a show or project, or in other words, what gets him to say yes to something? His response was rather simple, but all of us writers out there, incredibly important: he said the script is the first thing he sees, and just about every decision is derived from that script and the writer’s ability to tell a great story with memorable characters. This is an empowering interview with one of the best in the business, so I truly hope all of you writers out there are taking note. This industry does not have an impenetrable wall around it. You can break in, and you can find success. Just be persistent, don’t worry about having a plan B, and put your nose to that proverbial grindstone and get to work.
This interview is hosted by the ISA’s Director of Community Outreach, Max Timm. Max is the author of the fantasy novel, The WishKeeper, and he heads the ISA’s development program, supporting our members in a direct and meaningful way.
And don’t forget to rate this interview on iTunes, and feel free to share it with your friends. The ISA is dedicated to supporting writers in every way possible, and these free podcasts are just one way to inspire the next generation of A-listers. Enjoy.
David Silverman is an Executive Producer/Screenwriter/Psychotherapist. He has done extensive research on motivation and how it works. From a therapist's point of view, David has picked the 12 best motivational tools that can and will help a screenwriter finish his/her script. Take part in this informative, inspiring, and helpful teleconference in order to keep your writing flow, and finish what you started, or -even better - finish something you haven't started yet.
David Silverman is known for his work on South Park, Newhart, Dilbert, and The Wild Thornberry's Movie.
Whether you loved or hated Me, Earl and the Dying Girl-- whether you were part of the crowd that was ready to stand up and cheer at the Sundance premiere (after which the film was immediately snagged up after a fierce bidding war) or whether you're one of the more skeptical audience members who have accused the film of being cliché in its depiction of Earl and of its self aware film references-- one thing that you have to admit about Me, Earl and the Dying Girl is that the movie is deeply emotionally moving, both in its humor and its sadness.
It’s not easy to move an audience emotionally, especially when they come to a movie called Me, Earl and the Dying Girl. It’s not easy to actually move them to a point of personal exposure with a film like this, because of the protective wall that the audience is naturally going to put up between themselves and the film.
So I want to talk today about how you get an audience to take down their walls.
In lesser hands, Me, Earl and the Dying Girl is a Lifetime movie. In lesser hands, it's just another movie in a long line of melodramatic tearjerkers: the kind of movie that makes you cry but doesn't really change your life. The kind of movie that makes you cry in a safe way.
Me, Earl and the Dying Girl does not make you cry in a safe way. And the reason for this is that it sucks you into seeing the world through the character's eyes, forcing you to lower your guard and expose your own vulnerability.
The film has actually taken a lot of criticism for this. It's been argued that Rachel (the dying girl from the title) exists for no other reason than to force the main character, Greg, to change. It's been argued that Greg is a total narcissist who is so completely unaware of anybody other than himself in the world.
But I completely disagree. For me, what is wonderful about this movie and what is successful about this movie is exactly the way it pulls you into Greg’s perspective, as narcissistic and self-involved, and downright teenage as it might be.
How does the movie accomplish this? The answer is multifaceted and may surprise you. The most obvious way it does this is by lying to you...
TV is where the work is. This is at least what we hear time and time again, but we’re reminded of it once more with this in-depth and incredibly educational interview with the co-creator of the hit Hulu series, East Los High, Carlos Portugal. Carlos has a long and diverse career within the world of TV – first working at PBS and creating documentaries, to day time TV, and eventually writing on Tyler Perry’s House of Pain and Meet The Browns. Even when he wrote, directed, and produced his first feature, it was picked up by Lifetime and was turned into a movie of the week. He loves TV, but even more so he loves how it can deliver strong messages to diverse audiences.
Get inspired by a lifelong TV writer, producer and creator. Carlos Portugal is the epitome of positivity, perseverance, and professionalism, and we're confident you will learn a little something from this interview
Also, we highly suggest checking out East Los High on Hulu! The third season launched on July 15. A big congrats to Carlos on all of his success, and the ISA is grateful for his time.