Being a Chicago native myself, I loved bringing on writer and producer, Michael Brandt. He's not only delivering quality stories that all take place in the Chicago area, but he's bringing a boon to the production industry in Chicago, and that isn't an exaggeration. He has recently developed and created the shows, Chicago PD, Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and the upcoming Chicago Justice. We jumped into this interview with a look back on how Michael got his start in the industry, and as we review in out talk, it's a testament to talent meeting a little bit of luck. And like Michael says with his advice at the end of the interview, luck can get you your first job, but talent will create longevity in your career.
My favorite part of this interview was Michael's remark about how challenging this industry really is, and how some comments about how difficult it can all be can seem negative. It really isn't. There is a big difference between offering critical or negative advice, and simply being real. We all chose to work in this profession, and no one is forcing us to do it. So we all need to consistently remind ourselves that it's all about keeping and holding on to the love of the process, otherwise it will just seem too hard.
Being first in line of a bunch of new interviews focused around the world of television, I recently brought on long-time TV director and producer, Matthew Penn. From NYPD Blue, Law & Order, House and so many more, Matthew has recently directed episodes of Orange is the New Black, Damages, and he is the Co Executive Producer of the upcoming USA drama, Queen of the South, which from the sounds of it, will be an intricate character driven story and likely a hit among audiences.
We pulled back the curtain on so many topics in this interview, but his advice for young writers...and what he's learned from working with legends like Glenn Close, and his multiple Oscar nominee father, (Arthur Penn of Bonnie & Clyde, and The Miracle Worker), the knowledge that can be gleaned from this podcast is, dare I say, priceless.
Michael Hauge is a long-time story and script consultant, having consulted and worked with writers and filmmakers in Hollywood for over 30 years. But he's also one of my favorite people. So intelligent, and so articulate, he's the consummate coach, and if writers ask me who I can recommend when they ask about the consultants in the industry, I usually offer up Michael's name and services. There are so many consultants in town, and each of them have their own level of expertise.
Michael Hauge is an expert on story - whether it's TV or film, he's quite literally one of the best. And like our recent June Masters Series workshop we had with Jen Grisanti, we are hosting another one with Michael as our guest consultant. He will be presenting an all-day workshop here in Los Angeles specifically titled, "Uniting Story Structure and Character Arc". In this podcast that you're about to listen to, we go through the elements of what will be discussed in his upcoming workshop, but also dive deep into how plot and character intermingle and help create one of the most important aspects of a screenplay - emotion on screen.
"The Conjuring 2" is a fun ride and a frightfully good sequel.
In a summer when most sequels have been utter letdowns, it's nice that "The Conjuring 2" delivers. Not only is it a worthy sequel to its 2013 predecessor, but it's one of the better horror films this year. The casebook of real life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren has many stories worth telling on the big screen and this sharp sequel should bode well for the franchise and its many chapters to come.
This outing concerns the famous Edenfield poltergeist case from 1977. The Warrens were called in to help determine what was haunting a single mom and her four children in the working class borough of London. This movie is scary from its first moment to its last because it's based on a real story, and the director, cast and crew are committed to making a genre film a cut above the rest. Some of the nuances of the actual story are given short-shrift by the script here, but overall the screenwriters play fair and have fun with the frights. "The Conjuring 2" will have you on the edge of your seat, and you'll be thankful for it.
"Love & Friendship" expertly adapts Austen with panache and political punch.
It's not easy adapting most classic literature to the big screen, let alone an epistolary novel, one that is told through letters. But then again, writer/director Whit Stillman is an expert at comedies of manners ("Metropolitan", "The Last Days of Disco") and he knows how to capture the same themes that Jane Austen wrote about in Lady Susan. Thus, his take, now called "Love & Friendship" not only has the year's cleverest screenplay adaptation, it also is one of 2016's very best films.
A tony cast, headed by Stillman vets Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny, all play the serpentine story to the hilt. Beckinsale, in an award-worthy performance, essays Susan, the wily widow out to secure her standing in a patriarchal society. Every element of the film is top drawer, from its script, direction, and cast, to its sumptuous sets and costumes. The film only cost $4 million to make but it looks like five times that amount. And while "Love & Friendship" may be a period piece, it couldn't be more timely this election year with its scathing takedown of class, sexism, and politics.
Hi everyone, and welcome back to another episode of The Craft. It's an interesting episode since I'm technically going beyond my initial plan for this podcast. When I first launched this thing, I had the idea to talk about the 12 sequences in a screenplay, but it's kind of grown into something a little bigger...so now I have the fun yet unenviable task of coming up with brand new material every week that isn't directly related to sequence writing. The last 14 episodes have been a lot of fun to record and post, and now we're treading through some foreign waters in a way. It should be interesting, and I'm just as curious as you are as to what the hell I'm going to talk about. I have, though, come up with something - a topic that I've noticed many of our ISA members have found curious and intriguing in its own right; adapting a screenplay into a book.
Ever wonder what your pets do while you’re away? Brian Lynch and Illumination Entertainment did, so they wrote a movie about what might (or might not, as far as you now) happen when you leave your pets at home alone. Brian is the writer on the upcoming, July 8 release of the Illumination project, The Secret Life of Pets, and in this interview we talked about everything from the right kind of fame, to how weird it is to see your own lines of dialogue on a t-shirt.
It’s a dream interview for geeks of all ages, myself included, and the ISA thanks Brian for taking the time out to join me on Curious About Screenwriting. His discussion on writing for animation compared to live action is a fantastic teachable moment, and his advice on how to go about launching your own comic book series inspiring to say the least.
"What's your story about?" Do you completely dread this question..? A top-notch Logline can help! It's a content creator's most important asset - invaluable for query letters, for keeping focused on what makes a story unique and for having the perfect elevator pitch ready to go. Authors and screenwriters alike can use this amazing tool to hone their outlines, treatments, synopses', books, screenplays and pitches. Learn the secret to crafting this vitally important selling sentence.
This is a recording of a live teleconference from June 2016.
If you haven’t watched an episode of Fox’s animated series, Bob’s Burgers, then by listening to this interview, you’ll quite quickly get a taste of how funny the show is (and please take my word for it, it’s hilarious). Writing duo as well story editors and supervising producers on Bob’s Burgers, Steven Davis and Kelvin Yu, jumped on the line with me today to talk about, well, everything from the word “mush”, to blanket statements, and naked men in LA stage plays. I’m not making this up. But we also hit upon some eye opening perspectives where voice is concerned. I’ve been talking about voice quite a bit in my podcasts lately, and I love what Steven and Kelvin had to say about it.
For those of you who listen to these podcasts on a regular basis, have probably noticed that some of the questions I ask my guests are the same – and beyond just the last question of “worst advice” that I usually end the conversations with – but more importantly, you’ll see how different each answer can be. Why do I ask the same questions, and why I do like that the answers are so different? Because there isn’t one road or one route that you can take to find success in this business. Whether you’re an actor, writer, or director, or anything else right now – even a cat who likes mushing blankets – if you want to become something or achieve a goal of any kind, you have to find your own route. You have to establish your own voice. And you just have to keep writing (and you’ll find out why I’m giggling after saying that).
I had a blast with this interview, and I can’t wait to get caught up on all of the Bob’s Burgers fun. Enjoy, everyone, and as always, thanks for listening.
"...Because here's the thing, you should be writing superhero movies, especially if you're a serious writer. We need more serious writers writing superhero movies, because these are the movies that everybody in the world sees. These are movies that shape our beliefs about the world.
Think about how The Dark Knight was used to make people think about the Patriot Act and terrorism. Think about how Avatar was used to take an American audience and put them in the shoes of the Iraqi people at the height of the Iraq War. These movies, even though they are often silly, are extremely powerful. They change the way that we view the world. They change our belief systems.
And it's a shame with Captain America because with everything that works in this script, they really had an opportunity to go for it thematically. They had actually two opportunities. Because there are actually two different questions that the movie is asking..."
So, it's pretty sad when a wish doesn't get granted, right? It was not easy for me to force myself not to dive deep into the entire wishing process and how it works - at least not all at once. During my development of the story, I wrote out tons of explanations as to what the full process of wishing actually is - from inception to granting - and the important elements that are in play in order to keep a wish not only alive, but alive long enough to allow for it to be granted. It was just too boring and a bit like reading an instructional manual when I was all done with the brainstorming and explanation, so I just lightly peppered in little bits of it throughout the book. You'll learn more in upcoming chapters in more of a slow reveal, but if you don't want to wait, I have a tab on the WishKeeper's website called "Anatomy of a Wish" and you can see a lot of what my explanation and instructional manual, so called, included. I also break down each wish with some cool artwork and background.
But you just listened to two chapters that are good examples of how exposition can be blended with character development.
We’ve come down to it. We’ve marched forward through 11 sequences of a script, alongside some fun Sidenotes about TV writing, Voice, and Motivation, and now we’ve come to it. The final sequence. The resolution. The climax. The victory. The statement of theme. All five of those points are critical to discuss, breakdown, and hopefully explain well enough so that you understand their individual and separate meanings. Everything we’ve talked about prior to this episode has built momentum, pacing, stakes, and theme, in order to deliver it all at the end of your story. So let’s just do a quick recap so that we stay on point, and we’re reminded of why we’re going through these episodes in the first place.
Main character stage of life, the set-up event, and the secondary character’s introduction make up your first act. So much happens in those three sequences, and so much rides on how well you can prepare your audience for the adventure ahead. The relationship between the secondary helper and the hero, meeting the new world, obstacles, and additional stress on the hero’s emotional flaw, make up sequences 4 and 5. Those two sequences are presenting ongoing obstacles that both help and hinder your hero as he or she progresses toward your sixth sequence, the mid-point. The mid-point delivers some form of a complication, twist, consummation between the hero and the secondary character, so that the emotional flaw is revealed, tested, and therefore the adventure is set off in a new or different direction. It may even present a brand new goal – either physically, or emotionally – for your main character. Sequences 7 and 8 are now consisting of a slight downward spiral, either quick and obvious, or subtle with a potentially fake or false “victory”. The honeymoon period, so called, that is really just setting up both the Hero and the audience for epic failure. The rival or the villain is winning during sequences 7 and 8, and of course, by the time we hit sequence 9 and the hero’s low point, it seems as though all is lost. The hero has been dealt the worst possible hand, and he folds. There is usually some form of an estrangement between the hero and the secondary character and, again, all seems lost. In sequences 10 and 11, your hero reverts back to his emotional flaw (for instance, if a symptom of his flaw was that he was an alcoholic before, he now starts drinking again), but something happens that gives him a new hope. The secondary character may come back and pick him up by the boot straps, forcing him to rally and head toward his ultimate goal – both physically and emotionally – in order to claim his prize or at least attempt to.
That now leads us to…sequence 12, and what I said earlier, the resolution, the climax, the correction of the emotional flaw and the statement of theme.
It's a facet of the industry that nearly all writers either don't know anything about, or simply ignore because it just isn't something that comes to mind at the script stage of development. It is, however, essential for any writer "slash" filmmaker who intends to produce and/or direct their own feature length project to consider.
Barry Freeman is a unique consultant in that he has over ten years experience working on the ratings board with the Motion Pictures Association of America, or the MPAA as we all call it and know it by. In this interview we dive in to how he supports writers and filmmakers, what he specifically does for them...
"The Nice Guys" riffs on noir with strong characters and dark comedy.
Screenwriter Shane Black made his name in the 80's and 90's writing snarky, buddy actioners like "Lethal Weapon" and "The Last Boy Scout." He's back with "The Nice Guys" and this time he's written it with Anthony Bagarozzi, and directed it as well. It's a rollicking adventure with a lot of the same macho bluster, but this time it's configured more for laughs and loopiness. Stars Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling have a field day twisting the tropes of noir into pretzels throughout this 70's-set period piece.
Black imbues every scene he directs with entertaining surprises, keeping his audience off-guard throughout all the shenanigans. Chief among them are strong character arcs, unconventional villains, and a savvy kid character who turns out to be a better P.I. than her fumbling father. All in all, this quirky procedural is a loving riff on the likes of Spillane, albeit with a heavy dose of Black comedy.
This is a recording of a live free teleconference dated, May 14, 2016
The number one marketing tool is MATERIAL THAT WORKS. Be sure you write with fire, push your pages to the absolute limit, and honestly know when your script is ready for submission.
Compelling screenplays are born from writers being able to dig deep, access themselves, what they know, what they care about and then convey it all on the page. No matter what the genre is, from the goofiest lowball comedy to the most serious, high-minded piece of drama, great films effectively explore shared human experiences. We love what hits us in the heart - whether it made us double over laughing or left us in a puddle of tears. But how does one actually do this? How do you take that idea you had at 3am and turn it into material that will be an actual contender? We'll discuss key writing devices that will push you toward that mark.
Laura Powers interviews author Alesa Teague about her book the "Long Road Home" as well as common pitfalls that writers often make when approaching the marketing and selling of their book. For more information on Write Hot Podcast, go to http://powershour.biz/listen.html
"X-Men: Apocalypse" isn't the end of the franchise, but it needs a new beginning.
While the latest "X-Men" movie is well made and has plenty of good qualities, it hardly moves the franchise forward in a meaningful way. Too much of the story covers very familiar territory, from the backstories of Magneto and Wolverine to the quirky shticks of Quicksilver and Nightcrawler. Professor X's school, Rose Byrne's CIA agent, baddie Colonel Stryker - they're all back and it all feels very "been there, done that." Perhaps most confounding is the fact that it takes place 21 years after "X-Men: First Class", yet nobody seems to have aged one lick in all those years.
What is new doesn't seem particularly bold or better either. The talented Oscar Isaac plays the villain Apocalypse but is buried under so much makeup he has trouble registering. Jennifer Lawrence's part as Mystique has been rewritten to reflect more of her Katniss Everdeen heroics. And even the destruction left in the X-Men's wake here echoes all the ruined cities found in the recent Avengers and Superman movies. 16 years into this film franchise, the X-Men truly need to evolve into something fresher and more exciting.
In this interview, Laura Powers talks with Bob Schultz, President of Script Fest and The Great American Pitch Fest. Pitch Fest is an event held in Burbank, CA in which 500 writers pitch to more than 120 production companies, agents, managers, financiers, and industry pros seeking material to option, writers, to manage, hire, and represent. Script fest is the 20th through the 22nd of May and Pitch Fest is on Sunday the 22nd. There are also classes and panels on screenwriting and the business. You can find out more information and register at http://scriptfest.com/ For a ten percent off, enter code Laura10 at checkout. For more information on Laura and her work and her writing, you can go to www.laurapowers.net. Thanks for listening!
In this interview, Laura Powers talks with Kathleen Kaiser, President, Co-Founder of the Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network known as SPAWN and the Executive Director of the Pacific Institute for Professional Writing. We talked about the services that SPAWN provides to its members, the importance of editors and why establishing your own publishing company may be beneficial. We also talked about the 805 Writers Conference that is held in Ventura,California in November: http://www.805writersconference.com/.
For more information on SPAWN and member benefits, you can go to: http://spawn.org/. To follow the podcast and other updates, you can find the Write Hot Facebook page. Thanks for listening!
In this interview, Laura Powers talks with tv and film writer, comic book creator, and author of "Kickstarter for the Independent Creator", Madeleine Holly-Rosing. Her comic book "Boston Metaphysical Society" has been funded largely though crowdfunding. We talked about crowdfunding tips for running a successful campaign and we addressed the differences between Kickstarter and Indiegogo. It was a great conversation and Madeleine will be coming back to the show to talk about how to create a graphic novel or comic book yourself. You can find out more about Madeleine and "Boston Metaphysical Society" at http://www.bostonmetaphysicalsociety.com. To follow the podcast and other updates, you can find the Write Hot Facebook page. Laura also mentions her new class, "How to Grow Your Business Fast by Writing a Book". It starts May 1 and included are lots of tips, tools, and templates to help you get your book idea out quickly and easily. Writing a book was one of the best things I ever did for my business. Hope you can join!
You can find out more information my emailing Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org or going here http://www.healingpowers.net/services. Thanks for listening!
In this interview, Laura Powers talks with writer, director, actor, producer, and Steve Harper on how to make a web series. Steve also shares crowdfunding tips. We discussed how film festivals now have categories for web series and referenced https://www.withoutabox.com/ and https://filmfreeway.com/ to find festivals for submission. We discussed specific aspects of writing a web series and crowdfunding aspects for web series in particular.
To find out more information about Steve and this topic at: http://www.yourcreativelife.com/workshops/. To follow the podcast and other updates, you can find the Write Hot Facebook page. For more information about on me (Laura Powers) and my work as a psychic, you can go to www.healingpowers.net.
For more information about Laura, you can go to www.laurapowers.net. Happy listening!
In this interview, Laura Powers talks with Publicist Rhonda Rees about how online piracy affects authors. We also discussed the LA Book Festival and how to prepare for it and other book festivals and fairs as an author. We specifically addressed how to check for online piracy of your books as well as how to handle it if you do find your work being pirated on a website. It has to do with using a DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) Takedown request. Hopefully you won't need this but in case your work is pirated as an author, this is very helpful. April 23rd is World Book Day or World Book Copyright Day is April 23rd and Rhonda has organized a campaign to help authors and publishers understand this real problem. You can read about this initiative and learn about Rhonda here: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/03/prweb13270009.htm
We also addressed the benefits of hiring a publicist and the process of working with a publicist if you are interested in hiring one. We talked a little bit about my work in the psychic realm. To follow the podcast and other updates, you can find the Write Hot Facebook page. For more information about on me (Laura Powers) and my work as a psychic, you can go to www.healingpowers.net. Happy listening!
In this episode, Laura Powers interviews Serita Stevens on working on books, scripts, and adaptations. There is a lot of helpful information on this podcast for writers wanting to explore multiple formats. For more information on Laura and her work you can go to her websites laura.powers.net for her work as a writer and creator and powershour.biz for her work as a coach and mentor.
In this episode, Laura talks with John Peregine about his work as a ghost writer. We also discussed things to consider when hiring a ghost writer as well as things to do and think about if you want to be a ghost writer. You can find out more information about Write Hot Podcast and Laura Powers coaching and books at www.powershour.biz.
Laura Powers interviews Judith Briles about Author U and gives great tips on the New York Times Best Seller Placement, International Book sales and more. For more information on Laura Powers go to www.powershour.biz. For more information on Author U, go to http://authoru.org/.