Brock Swinson

The script doesn’t exist on its own: Ed Gass-Donnelly on Lavender

The script doesn’t exist on its own: Ed Gass-Donnelly on Lavender

Ed Gass-Donnelly on what two things a scene has to accomplish, figuring out the ‘why now’ of your story, and the importance of working on many scripts at once.

Ed Gass-Donnelly on what two things a scene has to accomplish, figuring out the ‘why now’ of your story, and the importance of working on many scripts at once.

 Brock Swinson

Bitter Harvest: More Than Just a Movie

Bitter Harvest: More Than Just a Movie

George Mendeluk on pruning your script, why going to film school is a waste of time, and why writers don’t make good directors.

George Mendeluk on pruning your script, why going to film school is a waste of time, and why writers don’t make good directors.

 Brock Swinson

The Moment of Leaning Forwards: Matthew Newton on From Nowhere

The Moment of Leaning Forwards: Matthew Newton on From Nowhere

Matthew Newton discusses going home with your characters, the importance of the “leaning forwards” moment, and the constant process of revelation in childhood.

Matthew Newton discusses going home with your characters, the importance of the “leaning forwards” moment, and the constant process of revelation in childhood.

 Brock Swinson

Finding Your Creative Value: Jamal Joseph on Chapter & Verse

Finding Your Creative Value: Jamal Joseph on Chapter & Verse

Jamal Joseph on writing a film based on your own experience, the importance of comedy in drama, and not waiting for that big studio movie.

Jamal Joseph on writing a film based on your own experience, the importance of comedy in drama, and not waiting for that big studio movie.

 Brock Swinson

“Nothing’s harder than writing.” Evan Oppenheimer on Lost in Florence

“Nothing’s harder than writing.” Evan Oppenheimer on Lost in Florence

Evan Oppenheimer discusses achieving authenticity, getting to the heart of the story, and finding your point of entry.

Evan Oppenheimer discusses achieving authenticity, getting to the heart of the story, and finding your point of entry.

 Brock Swinson

“Dive Deep and Flush Out Your Craft.” Patrick Massett and John Zinman on Gold

“Dive Deep and Flush Out Your Craft.” Patrick Massett and John Zinman on Gold

Watching movies with the script in your lap, the rhythm of a scene, and why you should not send out your first script.

Patrick Massett and John Zinman on watching movies with the script in your lap, the rhythm of a scene, not sending out your first script, and why working in Hollywood is like prospecting for gold.

 Brock Swinson

Making Your Protagonist the Antagonist: Robert Siegel on The Founder

Making Your Protagonist the Antagonist: Robert Siegel on The Founder

Robert Siegel discusses his fascination for outsiders, using research to get into your characters’ heads, and writing what you love.

Robert Siegel discusses his fascination for outsiders, using research to get into your characters’ heads, and writing what you love.

 Brock Swinson

Brock Swinson’s Year in Quotes

Brock Swinson’s Year in Quotes

Brock looks back over his interviews from 2016, and shares some of his favourite quotes.

Brock looks back over his interviews from 2016, and shares some of his favourite quotes.

 Brock Swinson

“One Script does not make you a writer.” Gloria Calderon Kellett on One Day at a Time

“One Script does not make you a writer.” Gloria Calderon Kellett on One Day at a Time

Gloria Calderon Kellett talks about how a show is developed, writing for television, and how exactly a writers' room works.

Gloria Calderon Kellett talks about how a show is developed, writing for television, and how exactly a writers’ room works.

 Brock Swinson

“I could hear their voices.” Michael Hirst on Vikings

“I could hear their voices.” Michael Hirst on Vikings

Michael Hirst discusses the process of writing historical fiction, the importance of poetry, and how Vikings has rejuvenated interest in Scandinavian culture.

Michael Hirst on the process of writing historical fiction, the importance of poetry, and how Vikings has rejuvenated interest in Scandinavian culture.

 Brock Swinson

Blunt Talk: No Unkind Humor

Blunt Talk: No Unkind Humor

Jonathan Ames on writing about friendships, his rules of screenwriting, and ideas for a film of his cult show Bored to Death.

Jonathan Ames on writing about friendships, his rules of screenwriting, and ideas for a film of his cult show Bored to Death.

 Brock Swinson

“I want to entrance and surprise.” Stephen Poliakoff on Close to the Enemy

“I want to entrance and surprise.” Stephen Poliakoff on Close to the Enemy

Stephen Poliakoff discusses handling multiple characters, seeing what your protagonist sees, and avoiding the distancing effect of period dramas.

Stephen Poliakoff discusses handling multiple characters, seeing what your protagonist sees, and avoiding the distancing effect of period dramas.

 Brock Swinson

Into the Badlands: Blood-splattered Heroes and the One Degree of Jackie Chan

Into the Badlands: Blood-splattered Heroes and the One Degree of Jackie Chan

Alfred Gough and Miles Millar on keeping the martials arts authentic, why a fight scene is like jazz, and writing for Jackie Chan.

Alfred Gough and Miles Millar on keeping the martials arts authentic, why a fight scene is like jazz, and writing for Jackie Chan.

 Brock Swinson

“Don’t bow to that trope.” Ben Younger on Bleed for This

“Don’t bow to that trope.” Ben Younger on Bleed for This

The pros and cons of taking ten years off from screenwriting, the boxing film as a parable, and choosing what to tell.

The pros and cons of taking ten years off from screenwriting, the boxing film as a parable, and choosing what to tell.

 Brock Swinson

True Memoirs of an International Assassin: A Tonal Tightrope

True Memoirs of an International Assassin: A Tonal Tightrope

Jeff Morris and Jeff Wadlow on writing characters into a corner, the challenge of balancing action and comedy, and giving yourself permission to quit for the day.

Jeff Morris and Jeff Wadlow on writing characters into a corner, the challenge of balancing action and comedy, and giving yourself permission to quit for the day.

 Brock Swinson

Defending Your Time to Write: Michael Lannan on Looking

Defending Your Time to Write: Michael Lannan on Looking

Michael Lannan on defending your time to write, writing what scares you, and the importance of observation.

Michael Lannan discusses defending your time to write, writing what scares you, and the importance of observation, and offers great advice for writers.

 Brock Swinson

Banshee: Brutal Good Fun

Banshee: Brutal Good Fun

Jonathan Tropper on collaborating with your actors, imperfect characters, and saying goodbye to a show.

Jonathan Tropper on collaborating with your actors, imperfect characters, and saying goodbye to a show.

 Brock Swinson

“Every movie requires a different storyteller.” Michel Franco on Chronic

“Every movie requires a different storyteller.” Michel Franco on Chronic

Michel Franco on writing about end-of-life care, shooting without manipulating the audience, and the importance of knowing where your story is headed.

Michel Franco on writing about end-of-life care, shooting without manipulating the audience, and the importance of knowing where your story is headed.

 Brock Swinson

Stories People Weren’t Telling: A Stray

Stories People Weren’t Telling: A Stray

Musa Syeed on media portrayal of Islam, symbolism, and getting feedback on your script from the people it is about.

Musa Syeed media portrayal of Islam, symbolism, and getting feedback on your script from the people it is about.

 Brock Swinson

Brother Nature: Old School, Family Comedy with an R-Rating

Brother Nature: Old School, Family Comedy with an R-Rating

Mikey Day on being in class with Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig, how to decide when a joke has gone too far, and why shorter is always better.

Mikey Day on being in class with Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig, how to decide when a joke has gone too far, and why shorter is always better.

 Brock Swinson

Love the Process: Dan Kay on I.T.

Love the Process: Dan Kay on I.T.

Dan Kay on stakes characters, research and influence, and why you can’t be protective of your work.

Dan Kay on stakes characters, research and influence, and why you can’t be protective of your work.

 Brock Swinson

Transpecos: Moving the Big Reveal to the First Act

Transpecos: Moving the Big Reveal to the First Act

Greg Kwedar on building the story from the world up, when to scrap a monologue, and what happens when you move the big reveal into the first ten minutes.

Greg Kwedar on building the story from the world up, when to scrap a monologue, and what happens when you move the big reveal into the first ten minutes.

 Brock Swinson

Writing: The Dying Art. Kaufman on Ace the Case

Writing: The Dying Art. Kaufman on Ace the Case

Kevin Kaufman on screenwriting takeaways from docu-dramas, realistic dialogue for children, and working with the biggest rabbit he's ever seen.

Kevin Kaufman on screenwriting takeaways from docu-dramas, realistic dialogue for children, and working with the biggest rabbit he’s ever seen.

 Brock Swinson

The Nine Lives of Rachel Weisz in Complete Unknown

The Nine Lives of Rachel Weisz in Complete Unknown

Joshua Marston on the idea for this unique character study, the underlying theme behind the film, and why screenwriters need to get out more.

Joshua Marston on the idea for this unique character study, the underlying theme behind the film, and why screenwriters need to get out more.

 Brock Swinson

“That’s my family, more or less.” Jim Strouse on The Hollars

“That’s my family, more or less.” Jim Strouse on The Hollars

Jim Strouse on character-driven movies, basing a script on real-life events, and what makes a good story.

Jim Strouse on character-driven movies, basing a script on real-life events, and what makes a good story.

 Brock Swinson

Taylor Sheridan on Sicario and Hell or High Water

Taylor Sheridan on Sicario and Hell or High Water

Taylor Sheridan discusses research, challenging the audience, and the importance of being selfish.

Taylor Sheridan discusses research, challenging the audience, and the importance of being selfish.

 Brock Swinson

“Great Comedy Concepts Are Not That Funny!”

“Great Comedy Concepts Are Not That Funny!”

Scott Moore and Jon Lucas on appropriate subjects for humor, The Hangover, and their latest film Bad Moms.

Scott Moore and Jon Lucas on appropriate subjects for humor, The Hangover, and their latest film Bad Moms.

 Brock Swinson

Aaron Sorkin on Screenwriting

Aaron Sorkin on Screenwriting

Aaron Sorkin discusses intentions and obstacles, his new screenwriting masterclass, and how to write great dialogue.

Aaron Sorkin has one of the most distinctive voices in the business. From A Few Good Men to The Social Network and The West Wing, he is best known for his intelligent and witty dialogue. His latest venture is an online screenwriting Masterclass, where he shares the secrets of his trade. Creative Screenwriting spoke with […]

 Brock Swinson

The Nutshell Technique

The Nutshell Technique

Jill Chamberlain on the difference between situation and story, the Nutshell Technique, and why writers should choose the banana!

As a practiced script consultant, Jill Chamberlain has read more scripts than most individuals have seen movies. In her research, she has discovered that 99 percent of first-time writers are missing the fundamental step in writing: to tell a story. While any basic class or beat book can encourage writers to format a script, jot […]

 Brock Swinson

Septembers of Shiraz: A Universal Refugee Story

Septembers of Shiraz: A Universal Refugee Story

Hanna Weg on the burning need to write, choosing a medium, and telling an Iranian story in English.

Heavyweights Salma Hayek and Adrien Brody star in Hanna Weg’s Septembers of Shiraz, based on the novel of the same name. The story follows an Iranian Jewish family as they cope with the total upheaval of the 1979 Revolution. Creative Screenwriting spoke with Hanna Weg about the burning need to write, choosing the medium, and telling an […]

 Brock Swinson

“It’s a Good-Natured Insanity.” Andrew Bergman on Screenwriting.

“It’s a Good-Natured Insanity.” Andrew Bergman on Screenwriting.

Andrew Bergman discusses The In-Laws, Blazing Saddles, and working with Marlon Brando.

Once described as “The Unknown King of Comedy” by New York Magazine, Andrew Bergman is a well of comedic charisma. Known for his pen on Blazing Saddles, Fletch, The Freshman, and Honeymoon in Vegas, Bergman’s iconic film The In-Laws, starring Alan Arkin and Peter Falk, continues to delight new audiences, and has been accepted as […]

 Brock Swinson

Finding the Emotional Core of Zootopia

Finding the Emotional Core of Zootopia

Byron Howard, Rich Moore, and Clark Spencer on pop culture references in Zootopia, the Disney collaboration model, and serious themes in animation.

In Disney Animation, story is king. For the film Zootopia, seven creators worked to shape the story that began in the mind of Byron Howard. In the later portion of their five-year battle to bring the Zootopians to life, major plot changes occurred while they remained true to an idea of discussing prejudices frankly, through […]

 Brock Swinson

Narrative Therapy: Pamela Romanowsky on The Adderall Diaries

Narrative Therapy: Pamela Romanowsky on The Adderall Diaries

Pamela Romanowsky on adapting The Adderall Diaries, fictionalizing a memoir and how we edit our life stories.

By Brock Swinson. Written and directed by Pamela Romanowsky, The Adderall Diaries stars James Franco as author Stephen Elliot, with co-stars Ed Harris, Amber Heard, Cynthia Nixon, and Christian Slater. Overcome with writer’s block, substance abuse, fleeting relationships, and parental issues, Stephen Elliot hits rock bottom when his estranged father arrives and publicly claims that his son […]

 Brock Swinson

“You Can’t Be Precious.” Bryan Sipe on Demolition

“You Can’t Be Precious.” Bryan Sipe on Demolition

Bryan Sipe discusses the ideas behind his latest film, the use of music in film, and his approach to writing.

By Brock Swinson. In Demolition, Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Davis, an investment banker perched atop the corporate ladder, whose seemingly perfect life is shaken when his wife Julia (Heather Lind) dies in a car crash. Numb and unsure of his next move, Davis begins to dismantle his life, beginning with the materials around him, believing, […]

 Brock Swinson

“When I’m not writing there is incredible guilt.” Matt Brown on The Man Who Knew Infinity

“When I’m not writing there is incredible guilt.” Matt Brown on The Man Who Knew Infinity

Writer/Director Matt Brown on the project's long gestation, the cathartic moment of a good story, and the scene he wishes he hadn't cut.

Writer/Director Matt Brown on the project’s long gestation, the cathartic moment of a good story, and the scene he wishes he hadn’t cut.

 Brock Swinson

“I understand how people talk.” William DeMeo on Back in the Day

“I understand how people talk.” William DeMeo on Back in the Day

William DeMeo on writing from your own experience, racial tensions in Brooklyn, and big name writers jumping on your script.

By Brock Swinson. William DeMeo lives the classic advice to “write what you know.” In his new film, Back in the Day, DeMeo pens, trains, and breathes the life of a half Italian, half Puerto Rican boxer named Anthony. Anthony grows up in a racially divided New York neighborhood with an alcoholic father. His world […]

 Brock Swinson

A Film Within a Film: Robert Budreau on Born to Be Blue

A Film Within a Film: Robert Budreau on Born to Be Blue

Robert Budreau discusses research, the advantages of directing your own script, and the themes and influences of his latest film.

By Brock Swinson. Led by Ethan Hawke, Born to Be Blue is trying to expand beyond the limitations of past music biopics. The film opens with legendary producer Dino De Laurentiis approaching musician Chet Baker to develop a film about Baker’s life. At the time, the jazz musician was down on his luck in Europe […]

 Brock Swinson

For Every Character a Story: Bob Nelson on The Confirmation

For Every Character a Story: Bob Nelson on The Confirmation

Bob Nelson discusses writing (and re-writing) personal stories, similarities between Nebraska and The Confirmation, and whether to end up or down.

By Brock Swinson. In The Confirmation, Anthony is on the fence about spending time with his hapless, alcoholic father. Equally unsure of their upcoming time together, Walt, a freelance carpenter, picks up his son for what he assumes to be a calm weekend while his ex-wife and her new husband go off on a Catholic […]

 Brock Swinson

“As a woman you have to assume it won’t get made, but keep writing anyway.” Julie Delpy on Lolo

“As a woman you have to assume it won’t get made, but keep writing anyway.” Julie Delpy on Lolo

Julie Delpy on female screenwriters, the “Before” trilogy, and her latest film Lolo.

By Brock Swinson. Julie Delpy is a French-American screenwriter, actress, and director. As a graduate from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Delpy has been in over 30 films, perhaps best known for work in Richard Linklater’s Before- Trilogy, co-starring Ethan Hawke. Within her many ventures, she has been nominated for two Academy […]

 Brock Swinson

“When it’s time to be funny, you have to be funny.” Kung Fu Panda 3

“When it’s time to be funny, you have to be funny.” Kung Fu Panda 3

Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger discuss what television taught them about character-based stories, the most difficult step in the writing process, and how to write for a panda.

By Brock Swinson. Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger are the minds behind the hit animated trilogy, Kung Fu Panda. With a cast including Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, J.K. Simmons, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, Kate Hudson and many more, the series has become a staple of the family films genre. In the third […]

 Brock Swinson

Befriending Writer’s Block

Befriending Writer’s Block

Depth psychotherapist Philip Ruddy discusses breaking down writer’s block through exploring the unconscious, Active Imagination, and courage.

By Brock Swinson. Philip Ruddy is a depth psychotherapist with a masters degree in Counseling Psychology, who also happens to have fifteen years’ experience working as a writer and producer. As such, he is well-equipped to understand the creative mind, and he works with writers, artists and performers to help them with creative blocks, anxiety, […]

 Brock Swinson

“Stick to the story.” Richard Cowan on Barney Thomson

“Stick to the story.” Richard Cowan on Barney Thomson

Richard Cowan discusses accepting criticism, what makes a good story, and crafting characters to suit actors.

By Brock Swinson. Barney Thomson, a self-conscious and somewhat insecure Glasgow barber, lives a seemingly mediocre life until he accidentally stumbles into the amusingly absurd world of a Scottish serial killer. Based on the book by Douglas Lindsay, the film, also known as The Legend of Barney Thomson, was written by Richard Cowan and Colin […]

 Brock Swinson

Brock Swinson’s Year in Quotes

Brock Swinson’s Year in Quotes

Brock looks back over his interviews from 2015, and gives his top ten quotes.

By Brock Swinson. Over the past year, I’ve been fortunate enough to interview a number of screenwriters, from first-time writers to Oscar nominees. Below are a selection of my favourite quotes and pieces of advice from these interviews. I hope you enjoy them, and of course, if you want to read more, just click on the link […]

 Brock Swinson

Let Go of Ideas: Michael Petroni on Backtrack

Let Go of Ideas: Michael Petroni on Backtrack

Michael Petroni discusses morphing genres, the unreliability of memory, and letting go of ideas.

By Brock Swinson. Backtrack follows the story of therapist Peter Bower who borders on hysteria when he learns that his patient roster is made up of ghosts. To fight for his sanity, Bower must go back to his hometown and dig up a forgotten past. Australian-born writer/director Michael Petroni has also penned films such as The Book […]

 Brock Swinson

2,000 Words Before Coffee: William Monahan on Writing Mojave

2,000 Words Before Coffee: William Monahan on Writing Mojave

In a frank interview, William Monahan discusses his screenwriting career, writer’s block, and writing for actors.

By Brock Swinson. William Monahan writes before the sun rises, goes about his day, and then writes some more. The 55-year-old screenwriter’s credits include Kingdom of Heaven, The Departed, Body of Lies, and recently The Gambler. In 2010, he not only wrote but also directed London Boulevard, and is doing so again with his latest film Mojave.  Creative Screenwriting spoke […]

 Brock Swinson

Mel Brooks on Screenwriting

Mel Brooks on Screenwriting

Hollywood icon Mel Brooks discusses his writing process, what makes a good story, and his love of Fred Astaire films.

By Brock Swinson. Somewhere between the designations of filmmaker, comedian, composer, actor, and songwriter lies Mel Brooks. As a Brooklyn native, Brooks was raised by a single-mother where he discovered the outside world through film. As a teen, he learned the drums and even started making money as a performer at the age of fourteen. […]

 Brock Swinson

Sam: “A real, honest-to-goodness, made-in-America romantic comedy.”

Sam: “A real, honest-to-goodness, made-in-America romantic comedy.”

Nicholas Brooks discusses modern romantic comedies, the most difficult step in the writing process, and what makes a good story.

By Brock Swinson. Nicholas Brooks’ Sam is a love story that exists within a juxtaposition. Sam Wellman, played by Brock Harris, is a New York alpha male who is suddenly transformed into a woman (Natalie Knepp), and learns something of what it means to be female. Over the years, Brooks learned editing and consulting from his […]

 Brock Swinson

“We’re not saving the world. We’re telling stories.” Cary Joji Fukunaga on Beasts of No Nation

“We’re not saving the world. We’re telling stories.” Cary Joji Fukunaga on Beasts of No Nation

Cary Joji Fukunaga on dangerous sets, research, and why starting a work is the most difficult step in the writing process.

By Brock Swinson. Beasts of No Nation is the first fictional feature to be released by the streaming, multi-platform giant, Netflix. An emotionally demanding film, Beasts is the next step in Cary Joji Fukunaga’s collection of dramatic stories, including Sin Nombre, Jane Eyre and the highly-awarded HBO series, True Detective, where he received a Primetime […]

 Brock Swinson

“The pleasure for me is in the monomania.” Lucinda Coxon on The Danish Girl

“The pleasure for me is in the monomania.” Lucinda Coxon on The Danish Girl

Screenwriter Lucinda Coxon discusses her latest film, what makes a good story, and why in ten years time it will be old-fashioned to talk about a transgender film.

By Brock Swinson. Danish painter Einar Wegener pioneered the fight for gender-reassignment surgery at the break of the century. Played by Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything, My Week with Marilyn), Wegener, who became Lili Elbe, was one of the first to undergo the controversial and risky surgery and did so with the support of […]

 Brock Swinson

Intolerable Pressure: Morwenna Banks on Miss You Already

Intolerable Pressure: Morwenna Banks on Miss You Already

Morwenna Banks discusses writing rituals, her latest film, and the importance of holding on to your vision.

By Brock Swinson. With a catalogue of work including BBC’s The Thick of It, Ruddy Hell! It’s Harry and Paul, Saxondale with Steve Coogan, and even a short stint on SNL, a heartbreaking story like Miss You Already is miles away from the comedic realm where Morwenna Banks got her start. After the success of […]


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Joss Whedon on Screenwriting

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