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Curious About Screenwriting Network

Welcome to the Curious About Screenwriting Network where you'll enjoy listening to fascinating film and writing industry guests who share insights from their careers and how you can take your screenwriting skills to the next level.
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Now displaying: September, 2016
Sep 27, 2016

"The Magnificent Seven" pays homage to classic western films & their tropes.

Can a remake of a remake be any good? Well, in the case of Antoine Fuqua's remake of the 1960 classic "The Magnificent Seven", which itself was a remake of Akira Kurosawa's legendary "Seven Samurai" from 1954, the answer is a qualified yes. While it doesn't do anything particularly earth shattering or provocative with the tried and true material, the filmmakers here clearly revere the western genre and its tropes, and more than deliver an action-packed good time. Anchored by star power from Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke, this revenge tale has lots of characters, quips, and well-shot shoot-outs. It won't be as classic like those others, but there is a lot to like here. It's almost like an "Avengers" movie, albeit one set in the late 1800's.

Sep 25, 2016

I'm back with the Craft podcast, everyone! I must admit that I didn't hold true to a promise that I made a couple episodes ago. I told you all that I was getting back into the regular, weekly release schedule for my podcast and yet, here I am, about three weeks later and finally getting another episode up. I know, I know, I'm a horrible person. I could dive into all of the reasons I was held up and haven't uploaded a podcast in a while like my book, The WishKeeper, had a book tour around the Chicago area in August. The ISA and I launched a new round of the live Master Class here in Los Angeles, and we're rebranding our online class, now called Write An Amazing First Draft. I could also tell you all about the Story Weekend of seminars we hosted in downtown LA with consultants Pilar Alessandra, Chris Vogler, and Lee Jessup, OR I could even give you details on the recent Third Thursday events we're organizing, the new website we're launching, and the huge push we're about to do with the ISA Development Program.

I could go into all of that. I could come up with a few more reasons why I've been a bit slow in the release of the Craft, but you know... I don't want to make excuses. As you can tell I'm tossing out some comical jabs here and being forcefully ironic, but that's also just a part of my own voice and if you haven't read my book yet, well, you would likely see that I'm really just being myself.

Sep 24, 2016

"In the Part 1 of this podcast we discussed Stranger Things, the concept of the Series Engine, and how it relates to the pilot episode and the Show Bible of your series.

This week, we're going to dive deeper into the Stranger Things pilot, to see exactly how it was constructed, and how it contains the blueprint not only of the Series Engine, but also of the Show Bible that could have been used to sell it. And then we're going to talk about how you can apply these ideas to writing and structuring your own Series Pilot..."

Sep 24, 2016

"...Sully is an example of a really good script, by a really good writer, that doesn't tell a really good story.

Sully is trying to do something very, very difficult: a film adaptation of a real man's life. It's trying to find drama in a situation that is inherently internal.

The first mistake Sully makes is failing to trust its own source material. As several recent articles point out, the persecution of Sully by the airlines, which forms the central premise of this story, never actually occurred. It was completely made up by Clint Eastwood, who insisted the movie needed "an antagonist," and failing to find one, made one up.

Movies are like life, and the best movies draw their inspiration from life. As useful as the idea of an antagonist may seem, thinking about characters in this way is only going to draw you away from the truth of your story. It's going to lead you to the kind of mustache twirling villain we see in Sully, rather than the fully drawn characters we experience in real life..."

Sep 24, 2016

Oliver Stone is still fighting the good fight in "Snowden".

It's become popular to knock filmmaker Oliver Stone for some of his conspiratorial beliefs and cinematic excesses, but his latest film "Snowden" is a very measured and precise work. It may not have the go-for-broke oomph of "JKF" or "Natural Born Killers", but it's clever, well-acted, and about as topical as films come these days. Was Edward Snowden (a slow-burning Joseph Gordon-Levitt) a patriotic whistleblower exposing our nation's dirtiest spying secrets? And does America even care about their government spying on them today? He puts these issues out front and center in a well-constructed story that dutifully honors the tropes of Main Character, Dynamic Character and Opponent, the three-character triad of screenwriting. Stone's latest also gives audiences a lot to think about and discuss afterwards. You can argue about Snowden's actions, but you cannot argue with that.

Sep 17, 2016

The clever storytelling in “Stranger Things” has made it 2016’s small screen phenomenon.

The Netflix series dropped on July 15th and yet the public is still talking about “Stranger Things”? Why? It’s loaded with 80’s nostalgia for a Millennial audience, sure, but more importantly, it’s shrewd genre storytelling takes familiar tropes and imbues them with enthralling new twists. We’ve all seen monster tales done with a big government conspiracy slant before, but not quite like what the Duffer Brothers have done here. For starters, they’ve created their show for discriminating adults, yet the characters at its center are four pre-teens. And unlike most genre efforts, this one has three women, of three different ages, driving the investigations into the disappearance of a small town boy. “Stranger Things” is full of rich characters, breathless action, and a crackling energy that makes each of its eight episodes zip by. What’s not to love? And that’s why everyone is still obsessing over it.

Sep 13, 2016

I'm pretty psyched to bring you this interview because A) I love the Netflix show Peaky Blinders and anything I can do promote it, the better, and B) it's a much different set of questions and answers than I usually ask my guests. It's fun and refreshing to change it up now and then, and Simon Maloney offers a look inside the physical process of producing a TV series. It's rare to bring on the show a First AD who is also a producer, and Simon and I dive into not only why that's rare (and thankfully that trend is changing), but we talk about some things that most writers don't even think about - the scheduling of a production, the ins and outs of a set, and a whole bunch more.

Sep 12, 2016

"This week, in preparation for our upcoming TV Writing Retreat in Vermont, we're going to be talking about the new Netflix series Stranger Things. If you haven't already seen all of Stranger Things, don't worry. We're going to limit this podcast to looking at the pilot.

There's this crazy thing called a "Show Bible" which is probably one of the most important elements you need to create outside of the script if you want to sell a TV show. And the best pilots pilots are like Bibles.

So what the hell is a Bible?..."

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