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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: February, 2017
Feb 25, 2017

...I had planned this week to talk about La La Land. But with the new Executive Order barring refugees, immigrants and green card holders from our country, I want to use this podcast for something much more important.

As filmmakers, writers, actors, directors, producers, executives, we have a sacred responsibility to our audience. Our films and TV shows shape the narrative of this country, and the belief systems of the hundreds of millions of people who see them.

In many ways, the most powerful political movies and TV shows are often the ones that are not overtly political. Because it's these shows that shape our worldview from the inside, sneaking past our defenses of what we think we believe, and slowly changing the way we view the world.

Which is why I want to implore you, as writers, as directors, as producers, as actors, as artists, as filmmakers, to recognize the power of mainstream Hollywood movies and TV shows.

These movies are not just popcorn movies. These TV shows are not just mind numbing entertainment. These movies and shows are the mythologies that shape our world. Working on us, through subtle repetition, to shape our view of the world. Powerful because they don't appear political, because they don't trigger our intellectual defenses. 

For years, we've dismissed crappy reality programming like The Apprentice as mindless entertainment, not as the storytelling that shapes the worldview of America. 

But in the wake of this election, we can now see the political power of even the silliest reality show, to shape the worldview of millions of people...

Feb 22, 2017

Where to start with the comedy great, Carol Leifer? Most recently the Co-EP on "Better Late Than Never" with Henry Winkler and William Shatner, Carol was also recently a writer and Co-EP on "Devious Maids". A forever-stand-up comic, Carol came up the comedy ranks alongside Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld (among many others), and eventually became one of the long-time writers and Co-Producers on "Seinfeld". While we don't go into it in the interview, it is rumored that the Seinfeld character, Elaine Benes, was fashioned and inspired by Carol.

Not only one of my favorite comics, but quickly becoming one of my favorite people, Carol joined me on a quick call to talk about her recent book, "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Crying". The content of the interview couldn't have been a better match since we love offering an educational advice-oriented bent to the Curious About Screenwriting podcast. Carol delivered, to put it lightly.

We highly suggest checking out Carol's website - www.carolleifer.com - and keeping up to date on her stand-up schedule, especially for those of you in the Los Angeles area. We're thrilled to welcome Carol to the ISA family, and look forward to helping her inspire up and coming writers for years to come.

Feb 21, 2017

In a 2017 edition of the ISA Spotlight, the ISA Development Program is highlighting six of our star writers in conversation with the co-head of the Development Program, and writing coach, Max Timm.

Get to Know Travis: 

A recent Table Read My Screenplay - Park City contest winner, Travis considers himself to be a fear-facing adventurist. He swam with sharks, took his acrophobia to the top of a Mayan pyramid, tried Mexican food... in Denmark, and ghost hunted at two locations on the National Registry of Haunted Places. By using his meandering experiences and lessons learned, he hopes to grow other people's view of the world through his writing.

In 2011 Travis optioned his contained actioner, Day of Reckoning, to producer Paul J. Alessi (Knuckle Draggers). In 2016 he entered a shopping agreement with producer David Harris (Security (2017)) for his action-thriller, Ranger Creed, and in 2017 Travis landed a writing assignment with producer Richard Harding (Hotel Rwanda) to pen an action-thriller for Sixth Sense Productions.

Among his eighty-plus contest placements, Travis has had seven top-five finishes and eight more first-place wins with TV spec, TV pilot, short, and feature film scripts, as well as being an official ISA Development Program writer. He was also very excited to recently learn that Daredevil and TMNT unofficially co-exist in the same universe.

Feb 21, 2017
In a 2017 edition of the ISA Spotlight, the ISA Development Program is highlighting six of our star writers in conversation with the co-head of the Development Program, and writing coach, Max Timm. 
 
Get To Know Hennah: 
Hennah Sekandary was raised in Southern California. Her parents emigrated to the U.S. from Kabul, Afghanistan during the Soviet Invasion. Upon entering the country, her family moved to Virginia before putting down roots in California. Hennah started writing at a young age, selling hand drawn comic strips to her classmates for five dollars a pop. She was later awarded a full scholarship to attend New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Upon graduating she received the Michael Collyer Memorial Fellowship in Screenwriting for her proposed script about the L.A. Riots. The finished product would later win first place in The American Zoetrope screenwriting contest as well as the ISA Fast Track Fellowship.

Currently a star in the ISA's Development Program, Hennah is working on a feature-length sci-fi thriller and a one-hour pilot centering around the always-controversial death penalty.

Feb 21, 2017

In a 2017 edition of the ISA Spotlight, the ISA Development Program is highlighting six of our star writers in conversation with the co-head of the Development Program, and writing coach, Max Timm. 

Get to Know Timo von Gunten (and let's all cheer him on during the upcoming Oscar ceremony): 
Born 1989 in Zurich, Timo von Gunten is a self-taught filmmaker. His creative childhood has helped him find his approach to the cinematic world. After some practical experience on film sets in his early 20s, he committed to writing and directing numerous short films and one feature, premiering at international festivals such as Locarno, Zurich, Sofia, Max Ophüls Preis and many more. 

In 2005 he created his own production company label, BMC Films. With his most recent work LA FEMME ET LE TGV, starring Jane Birkin, he has been nominated for a 2017 Academy Award in short filmmaking.

Feb 21, 2017

In a 2017 edition of the ISA Spotlight, the ISA Development Program is highlighting six of our star writers in conversation with the co-head of the Development Program, and writing coach, Max Timm.

Get to Know Chelsea Watkins:

Chelsea Watkins, a Los Angeles native, had her first job in the entertainment industry on the Merv Griffin show when she was eight years old. Since then she has worked on the creative side as a dancer, an actress, and a writer; and on the business side as a producer and in acquisitions.

She received her MFA from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, where she was the recipient of the Mary Pickford, Frank Sinatra, USC Associates and Women in Film scholarships.

Her teen comedy script, Powderpuff, inspired by her experiences playing Powderpuff football in high school, recently won the Grand Prize in the 2016 Spotlight Screenplay Competition. Additional awards include: Emerging Screenwriters Contest – 5th place, ScreenCraft Comedy Contest – Quarterfinalist, Writers Store ScriptXpert – Double Recommend. She lives near the beach with her husband and son, and in her spare time enjoys skiing, yoga and cheering on her favorite team, the USC Trojans.

Feb 21, 2017

In a 2017 edition of the ISA Spotlight, the ISA Development Program is highlighting six of our star writers in conversation with the co-head of the Development Program, and writing coach, Max Timm.

Information about Andy and Adam:

Andy and Adam's first script sale was a feature-length coming-of-age comedy set at a music festival for 20th Century Fox with David Katzenberg attached to direct. They've also written a feature called "Chicks with Dixon" for Anonymous Content. 

Their pilot "On the Bright Side" won the "Best Writing" award at the 2016 New York TV Festival. They were on the writing staff of "I am Tobuscus" for Youtube Red, and they wrote the last three episodes of season one of the Manny Films / Blackpills series "A Girl Is a Gun," starring Denise Richards, Nikki Leigh, and Charlotte McKinney, which wrapped production in December 2016.

Andy's script "The Anklebiter" was a finalist in the 2016 Austin Film Festival Screenplay Contest, a finalist in the 2016 Writer's Store Spotlight Contest, a runner up in the 2016 WeScreenplay Contest, and third place in the 2016 Emerging Screenwriters Contest. 

Feb 17, 2017

“Fifty Shades Darker” doesn’t do enough to illuminate its characters, story or sex.

The publishing phenomenon that was “Fifty Shades of Grey” yielded three huge bestsellers, but the first film adaptation in 2015 left a lot to be desired. And unfortunately, with this year’s sequel “Fifty Shades Darker”, the franchise isn’t getting darker or better. For a series ostensibly about sex, the two adaptations so far have failed to truly illuminate the characters or their passions.  

The story of Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) captivated audiences on the page, but onscreen they’re just too blank. What truly draws this couple to each other? Why is the heroine so fascinated by her bad boy’s peccadilloes? And what is an audience to make of an erotic thriller that barely contains nudity? Perhaps the third film will get the blood pumping, but this second one has just too weak a pulse.

Feb 14, 2017

“John Wick: Chapter 2” brings genuine artistry to the actioner.

Burnt out on action movies? “John Wick: Chapter 2” will restore your faith in what “shoot ‘em ups” can be. This sublime sequel to the 2014 cult classic not only builds on its predecessor but it expands what that franchise is and what a popcorn movie can be. Exciting, gorgeous, and smart, it does all that at a fraction of the cost of your average tent-pole production.

John Wick (Keanu Reeves, giving it his all) returns as a retired hit man out for more revenge and it’s fun from start to finish. Screenwriter Derek Kolstad and director Chad Stahelski twist genre tropes into exciting new shapes, creating an expensive world of international assassins, beautifully choreographed set pieces, and top-notch production values. This actioner is not only state-of-the-art, it’s practically art.

Feb 7, 2017

"Julieta" is Pedro Almodovar at his complex and colorful best.

For 20 films now, Spain's Pedro Almodovar has been enthralling movie audiences and pushing the boundaries of cinema. Whether the genre is comedy, melodrama, or even thriller, Almodovar always remembers that character is story. "Julieta" is his newest endeavor and it's based on three short stories by Alice Munro. And the central character here is so complex, it takes two actresses to play her.

Julieta (Emma Suarez) is in a funk, still carrying the baggage from her past and how it ruined the relationship with her daughter. The younger Julieta (Adriana Ugarte) from decades ago was a vital woman, so what happened to her? Almodovar explores these mysteries with his expert attention to narrative twists, nuanced characterization, and vivid production design. It's one of his best films, and though it may be subtitled, its message about love and forgiveness speaks to all of us.

Feb 2, 2017

"Split" is a return to quality thrills and chills from M. Night Shyamalan.

Ever since "The Sixth Sense", auteur M. Night Shyamalan has struggled to recreate the magic that his screenplay and direction was in that instance. "Split" is not nearly the psychological thriller that 1999 film was, but his latest is one of his best in a decade or so. It's taut, clever, and contains several sharply observed performances from star James McAvoy.

McAvoy plays Kevin, a man suffering from dissociative identity disorder whose personality has split into 24 distinct characters. The acclaimed Scottish actor essays a half dozen of them here, from a lisping 9-year-old to a British dowager. "Dennis", one of Kevin's most dangerous characters, kidnaps three teen girls and holds them hostage in his underground lair. Will they escape? Can they appeal to one of the nicer characters to remain alive? And is that secret star's cameo at the end setting up a sequel to two Shyamalan films? These answers and more are embedded in a far from perfect script, but one that delivers a lot of thrills and chills nonetheless.

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