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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: Page 32
Jul 14, 2016

"11-22-63" cleverly twists time travel but keeps its screenwriting structure straight.

Television is enjoying a new "golden age", giving big screen fare a run for its money in quality and storytelling. It's also doing genre proud. Case in point? Hulu.com's "11-22-63", based on Stephen King's sci-fi novel, is one of this year's stand-out miniseries. It stars James Franco as a teacher who travels back in time to try to thwart the Kennedy assassination and this thriller will place you on the edge of your seat from its very first moments. It's a crackling yarn, full of twists and turns, and yet it expertly follows the tried and true tropes of proper screenwriting structure.

For starters, it employs the ticking clock and the great hero's journey as Franco's modest teacher is given a set period of time to travel back to the past and alter the world for the better. The series also uses flashbacks properly, never turning them into a crutch to shorthand exposition. Finally, the show honors the sense of morality present in all good science fiction. The hero here creates many new tragedies in his efforts to undo a huge historical one. "11-22-63" is like a darker version of "Back to the Future" as fate pushes back hard against those who try to rewrite the past.

Jul 14, 2016

In this interview, Laura talks with Danny Manus about pitching, log-lines and the importance of having your script read those knowledgeable in the industry before sending it to people to read. Laura and Danny met at the Nashville Writers' Conference which is a part of the Nashville Film Festival. Danny Manus is an in-demand script consultant and CEO of No BullScript Consulting, and was ranked in the Top 15 "Cream of the Crop" Script Consultants by Creative Screenwriting Magazine. He is the author of "No BS for Screenwriters: Advice from the Executive Perspective" and was also named one of Screencraft's "25 People Screenwriters Should Follow on Twitter". We discussed how one of the biggest mistakes people make is pitching too soon and rushing the process of submitting rather than working the script until its ready. He also talked about the importance of having the 4 Cs and H which are: Concept, Character, Conflict, Context and Hook. We also discussed lots of specifics for pitching in the interview and discussed specifics for handling big pitch events like Nashville Writers' Conference or the Great American Pitch Fest.

If you want to learn more about Danny you can go to his website www.nobullscript.net or follow him on twitter @DannyManus. Danny has several events and classes coming up and he will be at Willamette Writers' Conference in Portland, Oregon in August. If you want more information on Laura Powers, you can go to her website www.laurapowers.net. You can also find updates on the podcast by following the Write Hot Podcast on Facebook.

Jul 14, 2016

Laura with Dave Chesson, author and founder of Kindlepreneur about using key words to market your book and even choose to write on a topic for which there is a market. There are generally two ways to make money as an author. One is to have a large platform and the other is to have a discoverable book for which there is a good market. Two ways you can help ensure success: write about something the customer is looking for and if the books out there are something you can beat. As John Lee Dumas said, "Its' better to go a mile deep and an inch wide versus a mile wide and an inch deep." Look into Amazon Best Seller Rank or ABSR. Do some research on what is out there in terms of books on a topic and what their sales rank is. There are about 4.7 million books out there right now. Then look at the books out there, are the covers good, are there poor ratings? Ask yourself if you could write a better book. If their ABSR is good and the quality of what is out there is poor, you have a good chance of selling well. You can also search the Google Key Word Planner and google will tell you how many people a month are using those key words. It will also give you suggestions, synonyms, etc. You might find out there is a huge market or none.

Dave has written seven books via pen names and he has chosen to use pen names due to his work for the military. Each book makes between $700 and $2000 a month per book without building an author platform. Good for authors to know that while an author platform is good to build, there are alternatives to this approach. This approach is also good for those who write books that are not part of their public persona like erotica etc. This approach is also similar to what Tim Ferriss did with market testing his book title for "4 Hour Work Week." Basically doing market research for your book prior to releasing the book or even writing the book can really help you sell well and make more money. Dave is about to launch a service called KDP rocket - it is an amazon book idea validator and it will tell you how many people type a certain term into amazon and it will also tell you how books with those keywords make. The tool will help you figure out if there is a market and if you have a chance in that particular market. It will launch end of June. KDP was designed to provide book marketing tactics for writers and currently has 45,000 subscribers. Dave is also the one who answers the contact page questions himself directly. We also discussed the importance of marketing and writing your book simultaneously.

Most authors will wait to market until they are done writing or almost done writing. If you do it simultaneously, not only are you increasing your marketing but you will likely create a better product as well. Dave also is a big advocate of paying it forward so if his works helps you, he asks you to pay it forward for others. You can connect with Dave and Kindlepreneur at www.kindlepreneur.com. If you want more information on Laura Powers, you can go to her website www.laurapowers.net. You can also find updates on the podcast by following the Write Hot Podcast on Facebook.

Jul 14, 2016

David Silverman is a screenwriter and a tv writer, producer and a licensed therapist. He also works as a script consultant. He suggests selling your stuff first and then seek representation. We discussed the difference between agents and managers and how for new writers a manager can help you develop your career. He also suggested a few resources for getting your screenplays seen and sold:

Blacklist: https://blcklst.com

InkTip: https://www.inktip.com

Script Shark: http://www.scriptshark.com

Scriptblaster: http://www.scriptblaster.com

David also noted that writing a blog is a good way to get connected in the industry. He is also an advocate of networking with new directors or actors that are looking for work to get your scripts made. Common mistakes writer make is writing something that is really off the wall. David suggests writing something that is different but not too different. Also a bad to work on the same script for years. If you want to make your own work that can be a great option for beginners. David recommend looking at the movie Tangerine by the Duplass Brothers. They made it for $1,000 on the weekend with their friends that got picked up for $300,000 and won many awards as well. David also suggests getting hired as a story analyst or a reader if you are interested in developing your skills as a writer and connections in the industry. Writing assistant or a personal assistant to a producer is also a great way to get started in the industry as a writer.

If you want more information on David Silverman, you can find him on Hollywoodscriptwriting.com. Laura also attended both Book Expo America in Chicago and The Great American Pitchfest in Burbank. She will be featuring interviews with those she connected with at each event in upcoming podcasts. If you want more information on Laura Powers, you can go to her website www.laurapowers.net. You can also find updates on the podcast by following the Write Hot Podcast on Facebook.

Jul 14, 2016

Joel Friedlander, blogger and book designer. We talked about the importance of good book cover design as well as his well-designed Microsoft Word templates. Joel Friedlander started self-publishing before self-publishing was a thing. Joel has two websites that are a resource for writers:

http://www.bookdesigntemplates.com/ and www.thebookdesigner.com. Joel offers a book cover design competition on his website every month and every submission gets feedback. Joel addresses what to do for a good book cover: Make sure the style matches the genre so make sure you follow the genres, bring on someone to design it (unless they are a designer), making sure the book communicates what the book is about, and of course hiring a good designer. He also mentioned his free Book Construction Blueprint which is a great guide for putting a book together. If you want more information on Laura Powers, you can go to her website www.laurapowers.net. You can also find updates on the podcast by following the Write Hot Podcast on Facebook.

Jul 14, 2016

SYS episode 130

Remy Auberjonois talks about his new film, Blood Stripe.

Jul 14, 2016

SYS 129

Paul talks about his new action / horror script The Horde.

Jul 14, 2016

SYS episode 128

Sean talks about his latest indy dramady, Hard Sell.

Jul 14, 2016

SYS 127

Pearry talks about his new thriller film, The Curse of Sleeping Beauty.

Jul 13, 2016

SYS episode 126

Podcaster and screenwriter Dave Bullis talks about networking and building a screenwriting career when you don't live in Hollywood.

Jul 10, 2016

The good and bad of 2016 movies at the half-way mark.

The first six months of 2016 films was a period mostly marked by event movies underwhelming. Audiences, by and large, stayed home rather than attend sequels that weren't particularly in demand to start with. Has Hollywood churned out too many franchise chapters and superhero movies that failed to take flight? And what failures of basic storytelling are at the core of these duds?

The old saying "If it's not on the page, it's not on the stage" applies to any movie, particularly those launching with hopes of having a colossal summer season. The films that have stood out so far this year have been those that are new, fresh, or at least find more unique angles on their continuing sagas. What can the industry learn from the successes of "Zootopia", "Deadpool", and "Love & Friendship"? Plenty. And so can screenwriters hoping to write scripts that resonate with audiences.

Jul 6, 2016

"We all have a disability of some kind. A handicap. A flaw, or for most of us, a series of flaws - a whole host of issues, really. We deal with them on a daily basis, whether they're literal and physical, or mental and emotional. We're imperfect. And most of the time our beliefs surrounding our issues or handicaps are even more debilitating than the actual handicap itself. So what I want to talk about here is something a bit more esoteric than what I usually cover, that being the craft of writing and the process of developing a story. That process is a relatively finite one. We have an idea, we beat it out, we outline and prepare, and then we write it as a story. There are steps to that process. There is a beginning, middle, and an end to the process itself, just as there is to the story you're telling.

But in life, and in this endeavor of developing yourself, it's much more difficult to notice the beginning, middle and end. It's not easy to break down your life to a process because life isn't lived in a straight line, even though it may seem that way at times. We go from year zero to life's end. Sure, you could argue that that is technically a straight line that takes you from point A to point Z, but we all know how much of a zig zag life really is, and we all know that each step of the way can lead us toward entirely different directions. While I could quite easily compare life to the writing process, I'm trying to steer clear of that metaphor here - I've touched upon that metaphor in past podcast episodes, and I've mentioned it in the online class I manage. What I want to focus on instead is perspective, and though I talked about perspective in my podcast episode all about Voice and developing your personal story and writing perspective, let's just drop the metaphors entirely. Let's just drop all of it, at least for a few minutes, because I need to be candid here with you all."

Jul 6, 2016

"Me Before You" serves up affecting and unabashed melodrama.

It's shocking how few romantic movies there are at the Cineplex these days, and despite critics not seeming to enjoy them much, the better ones do tend to break through with an audience. Such is the case with "Me Before You" based on the bestselling book by Jojo Moyes. She adapted this hit film for the big screen herself and her first-hand knowledge of her characters and their unusual journey together make for one very satisfying melodrama, no matter if most cynical male critics couldn't get onboard this "chick flick."

And indeed, the two romantic leads here do have a lot of substantial things working against them. Will is paralyzed from the neck down after a motorcycle accident, and Louisa is an unemployed young woman who agrees to take care of him only because she's desperate for the money. Will is cold to her, and doesn't see much point in living in his limited capacity. But as she starts to become his caretaker, and then friend, he warms up and even embraces life again. He comes to have great feelings for her, but is it enough? Ultimately, the true love story here is about Louisa and how she learns to embrace herself and what the future holds for her.

Jul 6, 2016

A powerhouse producer and showrunner for well over a decade, Natalie Chaidez has made a name for herself within the science fiction world with shows such as Heroes, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, as well as 12 Monkeys and Syfy’s, Hunters. But while we discuss what makes for great sci-fi and fantasy, the insights offered up here in terms of the business of writing, producing, and the TV industry as a whole are enough to get me very excited about where things are headed.

Jun 29, 2016

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.

Jun 28, 2016

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.

Jun 26, 2016

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.

Jun 23, 2016

"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.

Jun 21, 2016

"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.

Jun 21, 2016

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.

Jun 16, 2016

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.

Jun 16, 2016

"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.

Jun 16, 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.

Jun 14, 2016

"...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..."

Jun 14, 2016

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.

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