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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: 2017
Dec 22, 2017

“The Last Jedi” tells the familiar in surprising ways.

By now, movie fans can be assured that each new “Star Wars” saga will have a lot of the same: light saber battles, snarling villains, and a ragtag band of resistance fighters. And writer/director Rian Johnson delivers all of that with energy and flair in “The Last Jedi.” What he also brings to the franchise, nine films in, is a genuine sense of surprising narrative. The story doesn’t quite go where online fanboys have predicted it would for two years now. Nor do certain characters die as anticipated. Even BB-8 turns out to be more bad-ass than comic foil here. You know that a filmmaker has done a superb job of keeping you enthralled when one of the biggest debates will be what happens to Princess Leia next time. All in all, the Force is exceedingly strong in this one.

Dec 12, 2017

In a special Facebook Live broadcast of the ISA's Wine Wednesdays, Felicity Wren and Max Timm join forces with a Wisconsin company named Geneva Supply who hosts a free career planning and mentoring program for high school students called, Biz Tank. The program is designed to offer high school students insights into various industries and business practices in order to help and foster their entrepreneurial spirit. We give them advice on what to expect when moving into the next phases of their lives, and the back and forth conversation with them is a ton of fun. This interview is a great way to meet and get to know the ISA's Max Timm and Felicity Wren, as they share their own stories on how they traversed the tricky waters of post-high school and college life, eventually making their way into the entertainment business.

This is a podcast recording of the ISA's Facebook Live broadcast of Wine Wednesdays. Please note that some promotions offered during the live broadcast are not offered to the participants listening to the recording. We can, however, assist you if you wish to find out more information regarding ISA events, contests, or consulting offers. Just reach out to info@networkisa.org and we will be happy to help.

Join ISA staffers Max Timm and Felicity Wren for our regular Wine Wednesdays Facebook Live broadcast. We'll talk screenwriting and take your questions about the ISA and the art, craft, and business of writing screenplays, all while enjoying a nice glass (or two) of wine.

Subjects and themes change from week to week, so stay tuned for the live broadcasts that occur on most Wednesday evening at 7:00pm Los Angeles time. For a specific schedule and set of announcements, "Like" the ISA Facebook page and keep up to date.

Dec 12, 2017

Join the ISA's Felicity Wren and Max Timm as they sit fireside and celebrate the holiday spirit by discussing great Christmas movies, themes, and list of their favorite timeless classics. Christmas movies tend to follow a particular type of theme and a relatable approach to character development. Felicity and Max discuss how such elements help shape our favorite holiday movies, and how writers can take advantage of such an approach.

This is a podcast recording of the ISA's Facebook Live broadcast of Wine Wednesdays. Please note that some promotions offered during the live broadcast are not offered to the participants listening to the recording. We can, however, assist you if you wish to find out more information regarding ISA events, contests, or consulting offers. Just reach out to info@networkisa.org and we will be happy to help.

Join ISA staffers Max Timm and Felicity Wren for our regular Wine Wednesdays Facebook Live broadcast. We'll talk screenwriting and take your questions about the ISA and the art, craft, and business of writing screenplays, all while enjoying a nice glass (or two) of wine.

Subjects and themes change from week to week, so stay tuned for the live broadcasts that occur on most Wednesday evening at 7:00pm Los Angeles time. For a specific schedule and set of announcements, "Like" the ISA Facebook page and keep up to date.

Dec 11, 2017

IFH Episode 198: The AFM Wrap Up (Indie Film Hustle Edition)

I had the pleasure of attending this year's AFM (The American Film Market). This was my first time actually walking the entire market. I met a ton of people, made great connections and really got the inside look at how films are sold internationally.

In this episode, I discuss the major take-aways from AFM, what an indie distribution pipeline looks like, and why EVERY filmmaker in the world that ever wants to sell an indie film needs to attend. Enjoy!

Dec 11, 2017

IFH Episode 197: Sundance Wants to Help You Distribute Your Indie Film...REALLY!

Yup that's right the Sundance Institute wants to help you distribute your film. Liz Manashil (listen to her interview here), the manager of the Sundance Creative Distribution Fellowship reached out to me to get the word out on the fellowship. It turns out that, believe or not, they haven't been getting a lot of submissions. Crazy I know. My feeling is that when filmmakers see Sundance in the title they feel that their chances are thin.

Well, now is your chance IFH Tribe. SUBMIT NOW! We go over all your questions in the interview. Here's some info on the program.

The Creative Distribution Fellowship Overview

The Fellowship - inspired by the Institute’s longstanding artist labs and entering its second year - is an immersive, rigorous program for entrepreneurial producers and directors seeking new ways to build and reach audiences with their finished work. We are now accepting applications for films preparing for a 2018 or early 2019 release who are open to a creative release - i.e. without a traditional distributor.

The Fellowship is a curated program that includes grant funds, access to premium pre-negotiated distribution deals, and connections to experienced industry mentors with the Institute’s Creative Distribution team playing a strategic advisory role. We’re currently engaged in the Fellowship’s pilot year, and supporting two films: Columbus, a fiction feature; and Unrest, a documentary. Both films have excelled with the framework provided by the Fellowship and we are thrilled with the results. Case studies will be finalized on each film in early 2018.

We are seeking films at all budget levels featuring distinctive, singular voices. We will select three or four films on a rolling basis, and we will support fellows during their initial release period (6 - 12 months). Films will be selected by a committee comprised of the Creative Distribution team along with key representatives from the Institute’s Feature Film, Documentary, and Festival programs. Our evaluation process will have two stages. We will initially review applications reviewing essay questions and a trailer or clip. After this initial review, we will invite select applicants to submit their feature in its entirety, and notify others that their project has been declined.

Dec 11, 2017

Episode 193

Eddie Renner Talks About His New Horror Film, Crepitus.

Dec 8, 2017

Episode 192: Writer/Director Keir Burrows

Keir Burrows Talks About His New Grounded Sci-Fi Thriller, Anti Matter.

Dec 8, 2017

Episode 191 - Writer W. Bruce Cameron

W. Bruce Cameron Talks About His Transition From Writing A Newspaper Column To Screenwriter.

Dec 8, 2017

Episode 190: Irish Director Brendan Muldowney

Brendan Muldowney Talks About His New 13th Century Irish Adventure Film, Pilgrimage.

Dec 6, 2017

“The Disaster Artist” delivers laughs without digging deep.

James Franco does a superb imitation of Tommy Wiseau in “The Disaster Artist”, but the movie doesn’t dig deep enough into who the failed filmmaker was and why his 2003 dud “The Room” was such a debacle. Sure, it mines lots of laughs out of how god-awful the cult classic is, but the script Franco directs fails to expose enough of what drove Wiseau. Who was he? Where did he come from? And what made him think he had any talent whatsoever? These questions remain unanswered as Franco’s film spends more time being sweet and sentimental than savaging. It should have been another “Sunset Boulevard” but it fails to illuminate the dark delusions of the Hollywood dream factory.

Dec 4, 2017

Episode 196: Total Transparency: How Much Revenue a $100K Film REALLY Generates with Liz Manashil

Have you ever wondered how much revenue a real indie film can make in the marketplace? Wouldn't you like to see the real and raw numbers for a nontheatrical film with no major film festival premieres? Today's guest has been brave enough to do just that. Filmmaker Liz Manashil decided to open up the accounting books on her debut feature film Bread and Butter, starring SNL's Bobby Moynihan and Lauren Lapkus.

Liz Manashil earned her B.A. in Film and Media Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, and her M.F.A. from USC's School of Cinematic Arts. Post graduation, Liz spent several years as a film critic for the PBS/Hulu series JUST SEEN IT (which she also helped produce and direct). Overlapping this, Liz worked with distribution guru Peter Broderick.

Her debut feature, Bread and Butter, was called “an absolute must-watch for women everywhere” by HelloGiggles. It was released by The Orchard and can be seen on VOD nearly everywhere (including Hulu!). Liz is currently in pre-production on her next feature film, SPEED OF LIFE, and lives in Los Angeles with her dog, Laura Palmer, and her partner, Sean Wright. She is the Manager of Sundance Institute’s Creative Distribution Initiative.

Here's the breakdown (taken from her amazing article on Moviemaker Magazine:

Our film, Bread and Butter, is a digital success. A digital success you’ve never heard of.

Let’s break it down.

Our film cost $100,000 to make

We grossed $96,000 a little bit more than a year into our release (and we’re still making deals)

Our distributor did have a marketing spend but we invested in no other resources outside of that (other than me running our social media campaigns and newsletter)

We got two airline deals, two SVOD deals, and decent promotion of transactional and cable VOD

We’re operating in the black with the distributor’s marketing spend and heading toward eventual recoupment in terms of our expenses

In an age where people debate the utility of making independent feature films, there is hope.

I had a ball speaking to Liz and we get into the weeds on traditional distribution and self-distribution. If you want to sell you film in the marketplace perk up your ears and take some notes. Enjoy my conversation with Liz Manashil.

Dec 4, 2017

Top 10 Tips for Low Budget Filmmakers

Making an indie film can be rough, especially for beginners. Many times filmmakers go off halfcocked and jump into making a film without really thinking it all through. Here are a few tips that will help you on you filmmaking journey.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT SCRIPT

Look for character-driven stories with no stunts or effects, limited locations, a limited cast and utilize resources that you already have access to.

PLAN

Spend the time in pre-production. The more you can plan, the smoother your shoot will go. Take the time to plan and save time later when it costs.

MOST FAVORED NATIONS

When paying people less than they’re worth -make everyone equal- one pay rate for everyone. This helps show respect, not play favorites, and everyone will be working for one common goal.

CAREFULLY PICK UNION OR NON-UNION

If you go with an actor’s union, understand the full contract. Quite often although the production terms may be reasonable, the distribution terms may be not.

CAMERA TECHNOLOGY

Never feel that you have to use a specific camera because that’s the “hot” tech. Not all cameras are created equal and it is the talent behind the camera that matters, not the tech itself.

WORKFLOW

Know your production and post workflow before you shoot. This will save time, money, and frustration later.

MUSIC RIGHTS

Don’t go for “label” or commercially released music- the rights are complicated and expensive. Find unsigned, talented artists and get permission to use their music or have them record original music for you.

UNDERSTAND YOUR MARKET

Do your homework. Research your demographic and market - is there actually an audience for this film? How will you sell it? Can you visualize a poster and tagline? Knowing those before you shoot will increase your chances of success.

WORK WITH PROFESSIONALS

Every step of the way, your project will benefit from the experience of true professionals. You may not be able to afford the best in the business, but experience matters - hire the right people for the job, not just friends and family who are available.

PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR SOUND

Sound is one of the most important aspects of a movie - bad sound is intolerable, even over bad picture. Know how to capture the best sound and how to finalize it in post. If you don't know - see tip #9.

Dec 3, 2017

If you ever wanted to know some of the secrets of how to write a comedy then today's guest might be able to help. Peter Desberg and Jeffrey Davis are the authors of Now That’s Funny! The Art and Craft of Comedy Writing, a new book that provides an intimate look into the minds of twenty-nine of Hollywood’s funniest comedy writers from movies and TV shows like:

Saturday Night Live
Frasier
The Simpsons
Everybody Loves Raymond
Monk
Modern Family
The Honeymooners
There's Something About Mary
Dumb and Dumber
Cheers
Home Improvement
The writers were asked to develop a generic comedy premise created by the authors, giving readers a window into their writing process. There were no rules, no boundaries, and no limits. What emerges is an entertaining look—illuminating and hilarious—at the creative process behind hit comedy TV shows and movies.

Enjoy my conversation with Peter Desberg and Jeffrey Davis.

Dec 3, 2017

Episode 193: How to Create Suspense Like Hitchcock with Jeffery Michael Bays

Have you ever wanted to know how Alfred Hitchcock became the master of suspense? How Hitch used the camera and lens to create terror in the audience? Well, you can watch all 52 films Hitchcock directed or if you want to get a head start on you Hitchcock education you should listen to today's guest, Jeffery Michael Bays, the author of the new book Suspense with a Camera: A Filmmaker's Guide to Alfred Hitchcock

Jeffery shares his knowledge and love for Alfred Hitchcock as well as the tricks and techniques that made Hitchcock the master of suspense. If Hitchcock is your thing then also watch Jeffery's amazing series Hitch 20. He breaks down every episode of television Alfred Hitchcock ever directed.

Enjoy my conversation with Jeffery Michael Bays.

Dec 3, 2017

Episode 192: How to Sell Your Indie Film at the American Film Market with Johnathan Wolf

Have you ever wondered how films are sold internationally or domestically for that matter? Today on the show we have Jonathan Wolf, the managing director of the American Film Market or AFM as it's known. The American Film Market generates over $1 Billion in the seven-day event. Buyers from around the world come to buy, sell and pre-sell their film projects.

Johnathan and I discuss the inner workings of the American Film Market, how you should attend, the difference between creating a trailer and poster for the consumer vs a distributor and a ton more.

Here's a bit on today's guest.

Jonathan Wolf has been IFTA’s Executive Vice President and Managing Partner of the AFM since 1998. He joined IFTA in 1993 as Senior Vice President of Business Development and established IFTA Collections, which now distributes millions of dollars in royalties to participants each year. Previously, Wolf spent two years as President & COO of Studio Three Film Corporation, a U.S. theatrical distribution company.

From 1980 to 1990 he held various finance positions within the industry, culminating as Chief Financial Officer of New World International, where he oversaw the company’s international operations. Wolf is a graduate of the University of Southern California Business School.

If you want to sell your film then get ready to take some notes. Enjoy my conversation with Johnathan Wolf from the American Film Market.

Nov 29, 2017

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” challenges narrative norms.

Martin McDonagh may be a filmmaker from England, but he certainly understands America. His take on small town life in the USA is insightful and uncanny. In “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” it feels like we’ve been plopped down right in the middle of the town locals and their problems. McDonagh expertly develops character that drives story, but the narrative doesn’t always go where you’d expect it. He twists and turns his plot, as well as the behavior of his players. His darkly comic drama keeps us guessing throughout and makes for one of the more absorbing films of 2017. All that, and he lures award-worthy performances out of Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson to boot.

Nov 27, 2017

Blair Witch Project: Directing an Indie Film Phenomenon w/ Eduardo Sanchez

Who hasn't heard of the now legendary indie film rags to riches tale of The Blair Witch Project? Every film student from Los Angeles to Mumbai heard the story of how two young film students spent $27,000 (mostly from friends, family and credit cards) to make a little indie horror film that ended up grossing $250 million worldwide.

Directors Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick shot The Blair Witch Project in a new way which would later be called "found footage." Without The Blair Witch Project, there is no Paranormal Activity, Cloverfield, and...the list could go on.

Today's guest Eduardo Sanchez goes back to the late 90's and shares his experience on what it was like to be in the center of The Blair Witch Project hurricane. What it was like being on the cover of Time Magazine and how did it feel to be the toast of Hollywood...for a period of time.

We also discuss the aftermath, how his career grew post Blair Witch and crazy stories of Hollyweird.

Enjoy the conversation with Eduardo Sanchez.

Nov 27, 2017

Rewriting is the crux of every writer's existence, but it's a necessity. So join Max and Felicity as they talk about rewriting and why it's so important to have someone helping you through your rewrite. Doing it alone will only take you longer, especially if you're relatively new to the screenwriting process.

This is a podcast recording of the ISA's Facebook Live broadcast of Wine Wednesdays. Please note that some promotions offered during the live broadcast are not offered to the participants listening to the recording. We can, however, assist you if you wish to find out more information regarding ISA events, contests, or consulting offers. Just reach out to info@networkisa.org and we will be happy to help.

Join ISA staffers Max Timm and Felicity Wren for our regular Wine Wednesdays Facebook Live broadcast. We'll talk screenwriting and take your questions about the ISA and the art, craft, and business of writing screenplays, all while enjoying a nice glass (or two) of wine.

Subjects and themes change from week to week, so stay tuned for the live broadcasts that occur on most Wednesday evening at 7:00pm Los Angeles time. For a specific schedule and set of announcements, "Like" the ISA Facebook page and keep up to date.

Nov 27, 2017

"Opening Wednesday at a Theater or Drive-In Near You” is a must-read for movie fans

Charles Taylor is an author and film critic who loves B movies and his new book showcases some of the greatest unsung gems from the 1970’s. “Opening Wednesday at a Theater or Drive-In Near You” does an expert job of examining the shadow cinema of the era, with chapters on the likes of “Citizens Band”, “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia”, and “Eyes of Laura Mars.”

Guest Gary Goldstein of the LA Times guests to discuss the book and the clever, underrated films written about within it. Our discussion dovetails into a discussion of other unheralded 70’s B’s worth remembering, as well as unheralded actors that Oscar has overlooked and this year’s race for Academy gold.

Nov 22, 2017

Episode 189

Sonny Dyon talks about writing and directing his latest short film, The Grove.

Nov 22, 2017

Episode 188

Jared Cohn talks about his latest feature film, the horror film Devil's Domain.

Nov 22, 2017

Episode 190

We have all heard about Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey by this point but what is it really. Chris Vogler, the author of The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers and the man who brought the Hero's Journey into the film industry, breaks down the ordinary and special worlds of the hero's journey. Enjoy.

These videos on screenplay structure are from his best selling online course: Story and Screenwriting Blueprint - The Hero's Two Journeys.

In more than 4½ hours of lecture, discussion and Q&A, Michael Hauge, author of Writing Screenplays That Sell and Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds: The Guaranteed Way to Get Your Screenplay or Novel; and Christopher Vogler, story analyst and author of The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers, unite to reveal the essential principles of plot structure, character arc, myth and transformation.

Nov 22, 2017

This is a podcast recording of the ISA's Facebook Live broadcast of Wine Wednesdays. Please note that some promotions offered during the live broadcast are not offered to the participants listening to the recording. We can, however, assist you if you wish to find out more information regarding ISA events, contests, or consulting offers. Just reach out to info@networkisa.org and we will be happy to help.

Join ISA staffers Max Timm and Felicity Wren for our regular Wine Wednesdays Facebook Live broadcast sponsored by the Nickelodeon Writing Program. We'll talk screenwriting and take your questions about the ISA and the art, craft, and business of writing screenplays, all while enjoying a nice glass (or two) of wine.

Subjects and themes change from week to week, so stay tuned for the live broadcasts that occur on most Wednesday evening at 7:00pm Los Angeles time. For a specific schedule and set of announcements, "Like" the ISA Facebook page and keep up to date.

Nov 22, 2017

Hello everyone, and welcome to PAGE 2 SCREEN. This is the weekly podcast presented by the International Screenwriters Association where two writers examine a movie or a TV show and its journey from page to screen. I’m Jeff York, your host, and today we have another superhero movie to discuss. It’s the JUSTICE LEAGUE movie from Warner Brothers, and here to help us dig into what works and what doesn’t is screenwriter, superhero aficionado and one of the ISA’s Top 25 screenwriters to watch – Derek Asaff.

Welcome, Derek. How are you?

JUSTICE LEAGUE is a 2017 American superhero film based on the DC Comics superheroteam of the same name, consisting of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, the film is the fifth installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). The film is directed by Zack Snyder with a screenplay by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon, from a story by Terrio and Snyder. It features an ensemble cast that includes Ben Affleck as Superman, Henry Cavill as Superman (Surprise, surprise, folks, he’s back – one of the movie’s least well-kept secrets) , Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman (Though no one calls her that in this one either), and introduces Jason Momoa as Aquaman, Ezra Miller as the Flash, and Ray Fisher as Cyborg. Also returning to the story are Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Jeremy Irons as Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s trusty righthand, Diane Lane as Mama Kent, Connie Nielsen as Diana Prince’s mom, and J. K. Simmons, underused to a fault as Commissioner Gordon. In JUSTICE LEAGUE, the superhero team forms to honor Superman following his death and to save the planet from the catastrophic threat of Steppenwolf and his army of Parademons.

So, Derek, we loved THOR. With this one, did we go from the sublime to the ridiculous?

Thank you for being with us today, Derek. Remember to follow the ISA all over social media. And the site networkisa.org always has a ton going on: contests, helpful hints, interviews with movers and shakers, classes, podcasts, all the past PAGE 2 SCREEN podcasts are catalogued there and on iTunes. Completely free. 

You can follow me at JeffYorkWriter on Twitter, and read my movie blog The Establishing Shot So, until next time, this is Jeff York, along with Derek Asaff, saying thank you for listening to this edition of PAGE 2 SCREEN.

Nov 20, 2017

Episode 187

Screenwriter, Michael Lucker talks about how he broke into the business as a screenwriter.

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