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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: August, 2017
Aug 30, 2017

20th anniversary of “L.A. Confidential” proves the neo-noir stands with the best.

“L.A. Confidential” garnered great reviews when it opened in 1997 and 20 years later, its place among the top tier of film noir is unquestioned. Filmmaker Curtis Hanson and Brian Helgeland adapted James Ellroy’s sprawling 496 pages and turned it into a shrewd 138-minute film. Their Oscar-winning screenplay truncates the 1950’s story, but never shortchanges character or suspense. Aided by a superb cast, including Kevin Spacey, Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe, a topnotch Jerry Goldsmith score, and A+ production values, the film daringly tackled issues of race, corruption and police brutality. It’s as relevant today as it was in the pre-Civil Rights 1950’s or the post- O.J. 1990’s.

Aug 29, 2017
In another installment of Curious About Screenwriting, Max Timm of the ISA interviews independent film producer Amanda Marshall (Swiss Army Man, Diary of a Teenage Girl), not only about the release of her new film, I Do...Until I Don’t which is set to release in theaters on September 1st, 2017, but more specifically the intricate and always nuanced world of producing independent film. Creatively inspiring, but also extremely insightful in terms of behind the curtain information on the world of film financing and setting up a project for distribution, Max's conversation with Amanda is sure to offer information for writers and filmmakers that can support them in their own filmmaking pursuits.

Her recent film, I Do...Until I Don't, produced alongside her producing partner at Cold Iron, Miranda Bailey, is an ensemble comedy following three couples stuck in the web of a jaded filmmaker looking to prove that marriage should be a seven-year contract with an option to renew.
 
The film features an all-star cast with Lake Bell, Ed Helms, Mary Steenburgen, Paul Reiser, Amber Heard, Wyatt Cenac and Dolly Wells.
 
Bailey and Marshall are building a distinctive legacy of making high quality films that speaks to audiences craving good entertainment. Additionally, they look for new, up and coming female talent whether it is in front of the cameras like Bel Powley (Diary of A Teenage Girl) and behind the scenes such as director Jill Soloway (Afternoon Delight), to help engage and retain female talent in the filmmaking industry.
 
Also, as an innovative filmmaker, Bailey co-founded her own distribution company, The Film Arcade, to help ensure that more quality, independent films were able to find distribution channels. To date, The Film Arcade has distributed over a dozen critically-acclaimed indie films such as Nick Jonas’ Goat, and James White and Jill Soloway’s, Afternoon Delight. Upcoming projects for Bailey and Marshall include, You Can Choose Your Family, starring Jim Gaffigan, Anna Gunn, Samantha Mathis, Logan Miller and Alex Kaporvosky.
Aug 24, 2017

SYS Ep 180 - Tom Hines

Tom Hines talks about his years working with director Garry Marshall.

Aug 24, 2017

SYS Ep 179 - Bob Shultz

Bob Schultz talks about two of his latest projects and how he got the scripts produced.

Aug 24, 2017

SYS Ep 178 - Lee Jessup

Lee Jessup talks about her new book, Breaking In, and offers advice to writers who are trying to break into the business.

Aug 22, 2017

“Episodes” is premium cable comedy that bites the Hollywood hand that feeds it.

Hollywood is all too easy to satirize with its egos, greed, and test audience malarkey, but the sitcom “Episodes” turns it into an art form. Creators David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik know the crazy world of show biz all too well and never miss an opportunity to rip the studio system a new one. They also know how to write hilarious characters, witty and wicked banter, and sublime running gags. Plus, they gave Matt LeBlanc his best role yet – that of Matt LeBlanc, albeit a ribald riff on the veteran “Friends” actor. About to start its fifth and final season, this co-production from Showtime and BBC 2 is one of television’s meanest and funniest shows ever.

Aug 20, 2017

The ISA's Max Timm hosts a series of interviews with board members from NYWIFTV, discussing all elements of the entertainment industry from producing to screenwriting, to marketing and content creation for the digital space. The ISA is thankful to New York Women In Film and Television for granting us time with their board members in order to provide insight and education for all creatives within the ISA membership.

We look forward to more collaboration with NYWIFTV in the future, and if you would like to learn more, click the link below:

www.nywiftv.org

Read More About Casper Wong:

S. Casper Wong is a New York based filmmaker, technology lawyer, social entrepreneur, activist and Founder/CEO of OO Media. Her documentary feature debut, The LuLu Sessions, has won 10 international awards and nominations in every major category, including Audience Award, Best Feature Documentary and Best Director. Its US broadcast premiered on PBS’s World Channel as part of the America ReFramed Documentary Series. She received a Humanitarian Award from the SASS Foundation for Medical Research along with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in recognition for her film’s social impact on the complexities of breast cancer. She is the Founder and Creator of the Peace Pod Project, a multi-media, multi-platform dedicated space for facilitating peace and reconciliation between 2 people.  She has directed and produced co-productions in China since 2005 and most recently, serving as the studio executive for Roger Corman's first co-productions.

Casper’s work has been screened on the international film festival circuit.  In the US, her work has been broadcast on PBS, the Independent Film Channel, Syfy Channel and as part of Tribeca Film Institute’s curated Reframe Collection. She is a two time winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Screenwriting Grants; a New York State Council on the Arts Grantee; a Creative Capital Artist Summer Institute Fellow; Sloan Fellow at the Hampton’s International Film Festival Screenwriter’s Lab; a nominee for the Directors Guild of America’s Best Student Film; the winner of the Special Jury Award of the Golden Horse at the Taipei Film Festival; as well as a frequent panelist and moderator for film conferences ranging from science in film, diversity in film, to co-productions with China.

Prior to receiving her MFA in Film Directing from NYU, Tisch School of the Arts, Casper was Senior Attorney for IBM General Counsel in Silicon Valley, specializing in international intellectual property and antitrust law. Casper also holds a J.D. from New York Law School, and is the first woman to receive a B.S. in Bio-medical Engineering from Columbia University. She had been counsel for the IBM's corporate diversity initiative, is the Founder and Chair of Asian American Women Media Makers, and is currently on the Board of Directors at New York Women in Film and Television.

Aug 20, 2017

The ISA's Max Timm hosts a series of interviews with board members from NYWIFTV, discussing all elements of the entertainment industry from producing to screenwriting, to marketing and content creation for the digital space. The ISA is thankful to New York Women In Film and Television for granting us time with their board members in order to provide insight and education for all creatives within the ISA membership.

We look forward to more collaboration with NYWIFTV in the future, and if you would like to learn more, click the link below:

www.nywiftv.org

Read More About Rosalind Murphy:

Rosalind Murphy is a Producer and Media Consultant for film, television, theater and art organizations. She specializes in Audience Development, Branded Entertainment and Partnership Development. Rosalind is on the board of New York Women in Film and TV and Vice President of Programming Committee.

Rosalind co-produced SimonSays Entertainment Theater Workshop “Good Bread Alley’, film feature “Dope Fiend”, short fIlm “In Black and White" and marketing consultant on TV Pilot “Black Rose”. Rosalind received the Microsoft Diversity Inclusion Award for developing the innovative “Women Executive Passion Forum" for Fortune 500 Executives.

Aug 20, 2017

The ISA's Max Timm hosts a series of interviews with board members from NYWIFTV, discussing all elements of the entertainment industry from producing to screenwriting, to marketing and content creation for the digital space. The ISA is thankful to New York Women In Film and Television for granting us time with their board members in order to provide insight and education for all creatives within the ISA membership.

We look forward to more collaboration with NYWIFTV in the future, and if you would like to learn more, click the link below:

www.nywiftv.org

Read More About Kathryn O'Kane:

Kathryn O’Kane is a director and producer with over 15 years of diverse experience in television, advertising, and web media. She has produced shows for ABC primetime, Discovery Channel, ESPN, The Sundance Channel, and USA Network and provided content for such distinguished clients as NASA, IBM, Gucci, The Rockwell Group, Ford Motor Company, Nike, Gillette, Budlight, and Grey Goose Vodka.

Kathryn’s strength is telling character-driven stories working with both verité and interview-driven approaches. She has crafted narratives as diverse as “Mission Juno” documenting NASA’s probe to Jupiter, the award-winning “Oprah presents Master Class” the flagship series for OWN, and “Talking Dead” the hit show for AMC. Recent commercial projects include assignments for United Airlines, SAP, and the Carolinas Healthcare System.

Having started her career supporting democratic initiatives in Latin America, Kathryn first learned the power of messaging while organizing election observations in the Dominican Republic with President Jimmy Carter. She now seeks to bridge cultural differences through art and storytelling.

Kathryn is honored to serve on the board of directors of New York Women in Film and Television to support the careers of women in the entertainment industry. Her commercial reel is part of #FreetheBid, which advocates on behalf of women directors for equal opportunities to bid on commercial jobs in the global advertising industry.  She is also a member of the Emmy Television Academy.

Aug 20, 2017

EXCERPT FROM THE PODCAST:

“...This week, we’re going to be talking about a whole bunch of movies, but they all have one thing in common. They all have more than one main character.

There’s a lot of debate about the question of whether new screenwriters should even attempt to write scripts with multiple main characters. 

There are even some famous gurus who say that “multiplot” structures are just plain bad and that nobody should ever write them.

It’s a good thing nobody ever gave Robert Altman that advice or we would have missed out on a whole chapter of film history! 

We’d also have missed out on a lot of other hugely successful movies, The Squid & The Whale, Little Miss Sunshine, Crash, The Shawshank Redemption, The Usual Suspects, The Godfather, Dead Poets Society, American Beauty, True Detective and the entire library of Quentin Tarantino.

And at the same time, there are genuine risks when we break point-of-view and start telling a story from the point-of-view of multiple main characters..."

Aug 17, 2017

“Annabelle: Creation” fails to conjure a great story or enough scares.

Ostensibly the fourth installment in “The Conjuring” horror franchise, “Annabelle: Creation” tells the origins story of the scary doll from ghost hunters Ed & Lorraine Warren’s showroom. This outing has some decent scares, but it doesn’t have a great deal else to recommend it. While the previous three films created strong characters and unsettling dread, this one feels too paint-by-numbers. The characters are underdeveloped, most of the frights are predictable, and the story even loses faith in the demonic Annabelle. When the evil spirit moves on to a crippled girl, a nun, and even a scarecrow, you know this frightener is toying with its premise as well as its audience.

Aug 9, 2017

The raucous and raunchy “Girls Trip” shows surprising heart and depth.

R-rated films like “The Hangover” and “Bridesmaids” set the standard for modern comedy raunch, and “Girls Trip” proudly displays its outrageous comic ribaldry. What’s surprising is how much heart this film has as well. The script concerning four college friends reconnecting on a girls’ trip to New Orleans is written by women and it shows. All of the main characters are complex, they’re in their 40’s, and each has a unique arc. And the story doesn’t blanch from confronting issues of infidelity, fertility and faith. It is a surprisingly rich and deep film, especially for one that does such naughty things with a grapefruit and banana.

Aug 8, 2017

This week we are going to be looking at Dunkirk by Christopher Nolan.

On top of being an extraordinary cinematic experience, Dunkirk is a particularly interesting script to look at as screenwriters, because it breaks pretty much every rule that you’ve likely been told about screenwriting or about filmmaking in general, or certainly about the war movie genre.

When we think about big budget war movies, we generally think about movies like Saving Private Ryan, movies about great heroism and winning the battle against incredible odds. 

And yet this is a war movie that (for the most part) isn’t about winning but about losing. This is a war movie about a retreat, about a surrender, but also about the kinds of miracles that happen when people care about each other.

This isn’t a typical Joseph Campbell Hero’s Journey about one great man, one great woman who saves the world. 

This is a movie about a lot of little individuals.

Some of them are behaving bravely, and some of them are behaving cowardly. Some for their own survival, and some for the survival of others.

Aug 3, 2017

Narrative tricks work against the natural drama inherent in “Dunkirk”.

Filmmaker Christopher Nolan wrote wonderful plot twists into his time-bending scripts for “Memento”, “The Prestige”, and “Inception.” But with so much inherent drama in the WWII rescue saga of “Dunkirk”, why did Nolan feel the need to use such tropes in his telling of it? Didn’t he trust the incredible story of how almost 400,000 British and French soldiers were saved from the Dunkirk beaches by civilian boats? And why does he under develop all his characters as well? These issues mar an otherwise taut and superbly realized war film. In doing so, Nolan ended up with a very good film…but it should have been great.

Aug 2, 2017

Spider Man Homecoming Part 2 – Creating Unforgettable Characters & The Game of Screenplay Structure

In last week’s podcast we talked about writing a great antagonist by letting go of our need to see them as the bad-guy, who “antagonizes” the main character, and instead stepping into our antagonists as real human beings.

Because every character in your script believes that they are the hero of the story (just like every human being sees themselves as the hero of their story), to write a great character of any kind– a character that actually lives and breathes–we need to see world through their eyes. And this begins by connecting to what our characters want.

And what’s exciting is that when we start to think about our scripts in this way, we not only find unforgettable characters, we also start to organically discover the exact structure we need to tell our stories.

In Spider-Man, Homecoming, what makes the character of the Vulture, Adrian Toomes (played by Michael Keaton) so compelling is that everything he does grows directly out of his simple human desire to provide for his family.

And you can see, if you look at the structure of Spider-Man: Homecoming, that this isn’t just the formula for creating a great bad guy, it is actually a way of creating an entire cast of unforgettable characters, and shaping the journeys they all go on in the script.

Because every single one of these characters is really just a person with a really strong want and a really strong obstacle that forces them to reveal their really strong “how”—the way that they pursue the things that they want differently from everybody else...

Aug 1, 2017

Spider-Man Homecoming: How To Write a Great Antagonist

Hello, I am Jacob Krueger and this is The Write Your Screenplay Podcast. On this podcast, rather than looking at movies in terms of “two thumbs up, two thumbs down, loved it or hated it,” we look at them in terms of what we can learn from them as screenwriters. We look at good movies and bad movies, movies that we loved and movies that we hated.

This week, we are going to be talking about Spider-Man: Homecoming which is a surprisingly successful film compared to the others in this franchise. And what is nice is that this film doesn’t just succeed based on its fabulous action sequences or the wonderful actors involved in the production. This movie also succeeds because of its script.

So, let’s talk about what makes this script so darn successful. And to do that we have to begin with a discussion about Antagonists.

How do you write a great Antagonist?

If you’ve studied screenwriting with me, you know that I don’t actually like the word Antagonist. The reason I don’t like the word Antagonist is because it suggests something that isn’t true in the universe: the idea that there is supposed to be a character in your screenplay that exists only to antagonize the main character.

Aug 1, 2017

In last week’s podcast, we discussed the many differences between playwriting and screenwriting. So this week we’re going to be getting deeper into the craft of screenwriting: what it takes to write a script that succeeds on the page.

As we discussed last week, writing a screenplay often takes more rewriting time than writing a play.

And a big reason is that while most of a play exists in dialogue and develops over rehearsals and workshops, successful screenplays must exist in a far more more finished form on the page.

Technically, so much of rewriting for playwrights takes place during production in the rehearsal process. Whereas most of rewriting a screenplay is going to take place before your movie is even sold or greenlit.

And unlike literary managers at theatres, who are often MFA or PhD graduates with a love of literature, degrees in theatre and a deep understanding of how plays funcion on the page, most screenplays are read by coverage readers, or interns, who not only often have no training at all in how to read a screenplay, but at best are probably skimming your work for $50 bucks a script.

Which means that to succeed as a screenwriter, you must do more than create a blueprint for success. You must in fact create a screenplay that fully demonstrates the experience of your movie for even the least trained reader– that transports them from reading to seeing, and plays effortlessly in the little movie screen in their mind, so that they can see, feel and hear everything, just like if they were watching the film.

So that is just something you need to accept; in order to bring your screenplay to that level you are going to need to do more rewrites.

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