Welcome back, everyone! I want to share a little behind the curtain moment with you all. It was about six months ago when I chatted with Craig James, the ISA's founder, and we discussed my intent to launch a solo podcast alongside all of the other interviews I was doing for the ISA. The other interviews were doing well, and we were bringing on some excellent guests, and we found that the conversations were covering so much material on a wide range of topics. Which, by the way, I am launching an Online Class that will go into much more detail where these podcast episodes are concerned, and they will include written lectures, assignments, weekly creative support via email, and a script evaluation at the and of the ten week class. And the ISA will consider your script for our Development Program and hopefully submit it to our industry contacts. But...I'm getting off track here...
So while you were all loving those podcast interviews, I felt the need to get specific and cover the topics in detail beyond the fun conversations with executives and producers and the like. So we created The Craft as a bit of a teaching tool, but without the boring lectures we hear in so many other arenas.What we discovered was that our listeners were hungry for this kind of quick and concise series of podcasts! And even more, The Craft has become one of the highest downloaded series in our Curious About Screenwriting Network! Seriously, guys, that means the world to me.
While we haven't hit numbers big enough to make it on the iTunes front page or anything, I don't really care. I know that you're getting something from this, and when I had that thought this morning, it reminded me of something that I had recently forgotten. It was a reminder that I so desperately needed. And I say "desperately" on purpose, because it's one of the biggest lessons every writer needs to learn, and it's a lesson that no one teaches. And that's not to anyone's fault, it's just something that isn't focused on because it doesn't hold the elements of the screenwriting craft within it. In other words, today's podcast episode is, yes, another Sidenote, but I'm purposely placing this Sidenote before the next episode and explanation of your script's final sequence (sequence 12), because we all need to be reminded. I say "we" because I am most certainly including myself in this mix.
You hear it time and time again. You're good enough. You can do it. Believe in yourself. Put in the time and effort. All of these clichés are clichés because they're true, but at the end of the day, they're really just little inspirational quotes to say out loud in front of a mirror. They're helpful and essential, yes, but the follow through and the application of those clichés is what is so absolutely important and necessary where the screenwriting and entertainment worlds are concerned. And there is a reason we're titling this interview with Story and Career Consultant, Jen Grisanti, the "practicality of investing in yourself". Writing is a lonely art form, but even more importantly, we write because we intend to entertain. We intend to give something to audiences, and we intend to offer pieces of ourselves as that particular form of entertainment. So why not educate yourself?
Writer, Director, and Producer Daniel Zirilli talks about his latest film, Crossing Point.
Screenwriter and Director William Lu talks about his new indy drama, Comfort.
Screenwriter and Director Anders Thomas Jensen talks about his new film, Men & Chicken.
Anderson and Rossner talk about their new family film, How To Beat A Bully.
Michael Hurst talks about his sci-fi thriller, Paradox.
As part of the ISA's regular, monthly Third Thursdays social events, we are launching a quarterly live panel series where we bring on panelists from various aspects of the industry to educate, inform, and inspire.
In May 2016, at Busby's East on Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles, CA, the ISA invited representatives from the Nicholl, Nickelodeon, Fast Track, and Universal fellowship writing programs. The fellowship realm of the writing industry is an aspect of the industry offerings that most writers are not well-informed. They're essential to the educational and career-launching realms of the screenwriting business, and all four of the participating fellowship and writing programs have spawned extensive success stories. The original event's details are below to learn more.
Listen in and take advantage of the ISA's recordings of live panel events. If you are in Los Angeles, be sure to stay tuned to the Events page on the ISA webpage for upcoming schedule, however you can always count on a big crowd and a welcoming social atmospher at our monthly Third Thursdays socials and parties.
Original Event Posting:
Join us for an informative panel at Busby's East in Los Angeles on screenwriting fellowships and writing programs preceding our May Third Thursdays - LA mixer with representatives fromthe Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, Universal Pictures' Emerging Writers Fellowship, the Nickelodeon Writing Program, and the ISA's Fast Track Fellowship to get the answers to questions on the difference between a fellowship and a contest, which fellowship is right for you, and how a fellowship can help your career. This event is open to persons 21 years and older.
The panel will feature Joan Wai, Program Manager of the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Heather Washington, development executive at Universal Pictures and manager of Universal Pictures' Emerging Writers Fellowship, Karen Kirkland, V.P., Talent Development and Outreach for Nickelodeon Group where she oversees the Nickelodeon Writing Program, and Max Timm, Director of Community Outreach at the ISA where he is co-manager of the ISA Fast Track Fellowship. See below for more detailed information on the panelists.
The panel will be moderated by Thom Geier, Deputy Managing Editor of TheWrap. The Wrap News Inc. is the leading digital news organization covering the business of entertainment and media. Founded by award-winning journalist Sharon Waxman in 2009, The Wrap News Inc. is comprised of the award-winning, industry-leading website with its high-profile newsbreaks, investigative stories and authoritative analysis; it also includes premium, glossy magazines with stunning original photography and editorial, distributed to entertainment industry professionals. See below for more detailed information on Tom Geier.
For the very formulaic and logical reasons, I am combining both sequences into one episode here because sequences 10 and 11 are usually the shortest sequences in your script. They normally contain two, maybe three scenes in total...and this, as I always say, completely depends on your chosen genre, but nonetheless, they're short sequences. Why are they short? Because we don't need to see the main character dwelling on his failures for 20 minutes. We don't need to see her reverting back to her emotional flaws and core problems for 20 minutes. We just don't. We get it. But why do we get it? Because we, personally, do this every time we experience some kind of a failure in our own lives, and who the hell wants to watch us feel sorry for ourselves? And that's an important point to stress, because these two sequences are a macrocosm of the little moments in our lives that occur constantly. We fail at something every day - big or small, we experience some kind of a let down, but...we then pick ourselves back up, pick ourselves up by the boot straps, and move forward with a new purpose. That is the essence of sequence 11. Rally the troops. Picking ourselves up by the boot straps and no longer tolerating the old ways. The old emotional issues or problems. We have a new plan, and by God, we're going to see that plan through to the end even if it kills us.
So sequence 10 - as a summary and using my multiple road trip example: every time I chose or was forced to move back home, I was devastated. I fell back into my old patterns, thought all was lost and couldn't see how I would ever get back. In your scripts, you have to set your character in a state that makes sense to the condition of the story itself, of course, but the main character has to have a reaction to the recent low point, and almost always is that reaction based within a sense of doubt, failure, and feeling sorry for yourself - why hast thou forsaken me really means that you're blaming others for your problems, and not taking responsibility for the hell you're going through.
Sequence 11 is the sudden flip to taking responsibility. Forming a new plan. Receiving a completely new form of hope that the character didn't expect. It's what I like to call the Rally The Troops or Bootstraps sequence. Dig in. Own it. And move forward with a charge toward that final climax, weapons blazing and with a completely new determination to win.
If you're like me and you've studied screenwriting for what seems like forever, you've read Save The Cat, Story by Syd Field, you've been to Robert McKee's seminars, or you've consulted with the great like Michael Hauge, Jen Grisanti, or John Truby. You've heard it all in terms of how to write a script, and you've noticed that terms and practices have become cliché. They've become cliché because of not only how often they're used, but because of how true they are. There are so many tropes, lessons, tools, and vocabulary words that after a while, it's overwhelming. We're inundated with people saying, "here's how ya do it!" But really, folks, understanding what audiences want doesn't take a team of consultants. It doesn't take years worth of classes. You don't need an MFA in screenwriting in order to hook your audience.
According to Moira Kirland, and I happen to whole-heartedly agree with her, it's all about character. It's all about setting a character within a situation that will continually allow for fun, conflict, and drama. That's really all it is, folks, and if we over think this, we're going to just sit and stare at the wall for hours and eventually give up.
Moira Kirland is currently the Co-Executive Producer on the CBS show, "Madam Secretary", but she has served as a writer, producer, and Co-Executive Producer on a number of other hugely popular and successful shows such as "Medium", "Castle", and "Arrow". Moira knows how to hook an audience, and I couldn't agree more that she says it's as simple as defining a character who is in an extraordinary situation, but while balancing relatable and real-life circumstances.
We're off and running! Episode 3 - Chapters 4 and 5 - and these two were chapters were taken nearly verbatim from the last draft of the screenplay I wrote for this story. The way Thane and Shea meet and their eventual relationship dilemma was too fun to let go of, so I quite literally copied and pasted the script's scenes into a Word document for the first draft of my book's manuscript. Note: FIRST DRAFT (ha)
For those of you who know the screenplay world, it's obvious that I added quite a bit of prose to the two chapters - there is no way I could get away with that much prose in a screenplay. But while I was putting together this book based on the screenplay version, my very first draft of the book was almost entirely a copy and paste. I copied the screenplay and pasted it into Word. After some basic formatting, I then jumped in and started breaking up the individual script scenes into chapters in the Word document...
Whether you're a writer or not, you need a champion - someone who is pulling for you. Someone who wants to see you succeed just as much as you want to. Whether this is your mom, a husband or wife, or in this interview guest's sake, the VP of Talent Development and Outreach with Nickelodeon! The process of writing, and really overall the entertainment industry in general, is a solitary and at times, terribly frightening experience...but if you don't go it alone, and you have a mentor or someone backing you, supporting you emotionally and most importantly, believing in you, you're on your way and things will simply feel a little easier.
When I asked Karen Kirkland to my guest on the Curious About Screenwriting podcast, I honestly believe she was even more excited to be on that I was to have her as my guest! And listen, I was thrilled to schedule her interview. I was thrilled not only because I knew Karen would be a great interview, but because she is a natural champion of writers and creative people
"Money Monster" posts too many losses in its indictment of Wall Street.
"Money Monster" would like to be a shrewd dissertation about contemporary America, similar to 1970's classics like "Dog Day Afternoon" and "Network" were in their time. Unfortunately, the script here is too predictable and its characters two-dimensional. Jodie Foster directs a game George Clooney and Julia Roberts in the story of a financial cable show host who's taken hostage on air by an irate investor (Jack O'Connell) who lost his shirt. That's a timely premise, what with all the issues concerning Wall Street these days, but it squanders the opportunity with rudimentary flaws.
The story plays out in real time, but its ticking clock is abandoned with half an hour left. Most of the supporting characters are woefully underwritten. And even its villain is nothing more than a greedy CEO. How cliché. "The Big Short" indicted the whole broken economic system, but this popcorn thriller doesn't come close to that film's sting. It's not a bad investment for two hours at the Cineplex, but it should have been something much more worthy.
Welcome back to The WishKeeper serial podcast, and thanks for coming back! I guess that means I did something right in the first episode. Let’s keep going with Shea’s story – it’s barely just begun. We last saw Shea dealing with not only remembering a difficult past, but managing her boring and monotonous day-to-day life. The argument with her dad at the end of chapter two is just a very brief glimpse into their relationship, and really just the tip of the proverbial iceberg where they’re concerned. Their relationship is a bit of a powder keg because neither of them have dealt with the loss of Shea’s mom very well. Shea just wants to forget, and Beren needs to hold on. And even though we all deal with loss differently, Shea and Beren have allowed their processes to push each other away.
Stay tuned after this episode is over. We’re moving on to Chapter 3, and yes, this episode will contain only one chapter, but that’s because Chapter 3 is kind of an epic one, and a very interesting one for me to write. I’ll give more insight into my process of writing this chapter. It’s rarely easy getting exposition across in a quick and succinct way, and since I have built a rather huge universe in this book, there is a lot to cover. Little by little, I reveal bits about the world, so listen in. Pay attention. And hopefully you become as enamored with my wishing world as I have. So let’s dive in and get back to Shea and see what kind of trouble she’s about to get into. Enjoy and thanks again.
Instagram: TheWishKeeper or InstaMax9
I've been told that I'm too dramatic at times. I complain. I curse. I overreact. I vent. My friends and family know this about me and, thankfully, the know what I know - I really don't care about 90% of the crap I complain about, nor am I really all that invested in the stuff about which I so often vent. I mean, I'm a Cubs fan, guys. As a baseball fan, I was raised on managing constant instances of what this episode is all about. It's what so many consultants and screenwriting experts call - the Low Point. Growing up as a Cubs fan, every day was a low point. For those of you overseas who don't care about American baseball or know anything about it, imagine a sports team that has been around for a hundred years and hasn't won a championship. There ya have it. The Chicago Cubs. But I digress... and I need to digress, otherwise this entire episode will be about my unfortunate love for the Cubs. This season for the Cubs, however, has been very different, but I'll get to that.
Like I said, I'm dramatic and I love to complain. It's who I am and, well, I kind of like that part of me. It helps get the junk out so I can be a happy person again. Because, I actually am a happy person. Nonetheless, just because we like to complain now and then, doesn't mean that we're experiencing a low point in our lives. It certainly doesn't mean we're experiencing a quote un-quote, "dark night of the soul" and hence the name of this episode. The reason I bring this up right off the bat is because we, as writers, need to understand how low we really need to go in order to present sequence 9 of a screenplay.
In Part 1 of this podcast, we discussed the structural elements that allow Everybody Wants Some to overcome the challenges of its meandering plot and nearly total subversion of every rule of screenwriting.
But there are other reasons, beyond structure, that Everybody Wants Some succeeds, in spite of its complete disregard for the rules. And whether you're a traditional Hollywood writer, or a rule defying auteur like Richard Linklater, there are concepts you can use to great effect in your own writing."
"Captain America: Civil War" tells a lot of story with a lot of character.
Marvel Studios is on a roll with the continuing juggernaut of its "X-Men" franchise and recent megahits like "Ant-Man" and "Deadpool." This new adventure film is the third in the "Captain America" series but it more closely resembles "The Avengers" as it brings together a large collection of famous superheroes for a truly epic battle. But despite such big ambitions, the film never loses sight of its characters.
With over a dozen costumed crusaders to account for, the script never loses sense of who they are and why they're in the fight. Their humanity informs every plot point, line of dialogue and punch thrown. Filmed and performed with wit and warmth, this is everything that "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice" was not. This movie is truly a marvel balancing serious themes, rollicking adventure, clever repartee, and state-of-the-art CGI in one of the better superhero movies to ever take flight.
"The Huntsman: Winter's War" is at war within its own storytelling.
In 2012, "Snow White and the Huntsman" was a critical and financial success, but this sequel entitled "The Huntsman: Winter's War" fails to build on most of its predecessor's strengths. For starters, Snow White isn't really in this one. Then there's the fact that this story is both a prequel and sequel, so its focus is muddled. Finally, it seems more interested in the character arc of its warring queen sisters (Charlize Theron and Emily Blunt) than that of its leading man (Chris Hemsworth).
This fantasy tentpole is impeccably produced and has gorgeous sets, costumes, and special effects. But if there are problems on the page, it will suffer on the stage, and that's undeniably true here. The Brothers Grimm deserve a more cogent adaptation of their work, and so does the Cineplex audience.
"Midnight Special" is a truly special sci-fi thriller.
Genre films don't have to be filled with obvious clichés and hoary old tropes. Jeff Nichols' screenplay and direction find all sorts of different ways to confound genre expectations and keep the audience off guard in his his sci-fi thriller "Midnight Special." It's the story of Alton, a young boy with special God-like gifts that a religious cult and the FBI both want to get their hands on.
His concerned father Roy, played by Nichols favorite Michael Shannon, runs off with Alton and their road trip together is tender, as well as terrifying. Complex characters and surprising story twists belie any expectations of another "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", "E.T" or "Starman." Nichols' sci-fi is less interested in special effects and more interested in the effect God, family and society have on normal people dealing with an extraordinary child. This is a thriller that you'll be thinking about, and talking over, long after this special film has ended.
Episode 1 of The WishKeeper Serial Audiobook
This episode brings to you an extended introduction by the author, giving a background and history on how the book came about, where Max found his inspiration, and discusses the long process of adapting the book from a screenplay.
The WishKeeper, a young adult paranormal fantasy novel, officially hits bookstores on June 10, but pre-orders begin May 15! If you're a fan of Artemis Fowl, Harry Potter, or The Hunger Games, you might enjoy this action-packed fairy adventure.
Prologue, Chapter 1 - Goggles, Goggled, and Chapter 2 - Forget Me Knots
Written by Maximilian Timm
Read and performed by Molly Kasch, and Maximilian Timm
Edited and produced by Misha Crosby
You can find Max and The WishKeeper on virtually every social media outlet, so stay tuned to the book's official release by going to:
Instagram: instamax 9 and TheWishKeeper
Over the past 15 years that I've worked in the screenwriting world, I've interviewed and have been interviewed by countless consultants, writers, students, teachers, industry pro's, and during the last few months of hosting my Curious About Screenwriting podcast, I've been asking professional working screenwriters the same question. What is voice? I ask them virtually the same exact question, verbatim, and I always get a different answer. Sometimes the answers are remarkably different, and almost always do I get some new form of insight.
This episode of The Craft is another Sidenote episode and we'll get back to the sequence building next episode (specifically sequence 9, next time), but I hope you listen to the entirety of this episode. It's essential, really, and not because I'm the one recording it, but because it's essential to at least grasp the meaning of voice, and what it means to you.
With "Everybody Wants Some!!" you'll get a movie that zigs while others zag.
Writer/director Richard Linklater likes to tell his stories with less plot and a looser structure than most everything else in Hollywood. His latest film "Everybody Wants Some!!" is no exception. Shaped in a similarly casual episodic fashion like his acclaimed films "Boyhood" and the "Before Sunrise" trilogy, this new film concentrates on the first three days that jock Jake (Blake Jenner) spends at college, getting to know his baseball teammates and get a lay for the land. He'd like to get laid too, but this nuanced film has much more on its mind that its title would suggest. It's really a coming-of-age ensemble piece about maturation, doled out in small increments and not big character arcs. The movie's leisurely pace and introspective sensibilities may not be for everyone, but for screenwriters and movie fans tired of paint-by-numbers superhero flicks, this is a welcome antidote.