Ramona Zacharias

A deep dive into character: Ken Biller and Noah Pink on Genius

A deep dive into character: Ken Biller and Noah Pink on Genius

Ken Biller and Noah Pink discuss writing in a nonlinear narrative structure, the advantages of working in a writers room, and the value of doing more work than you should.

Ken Biller and Noah Pink discuss writing in a nonlinear narrative structure, the advantages of working in a writers room, and the value of doing more work than you should.

 Ramona Zacharias

Pushing through the membrane of discomfort: Damon Lindelof on The Leftovers

Pushing through the membrane of discomfort: Damon Lindelof on The Leftovers

Damon Lindelof discusses writing a show with religious overtones, making every character the star of the show, and using the title sequence as an overture to the episode.

Damon Lindelof discusses writing a show with religious overtones, making every character the star of the show, and using the title sequence as an overture to the episode.

 Ramona Zacharias

“Telling my story through someone else’s story.” Avi Nesher on Past Life

“Telling my story through someone else’s story.” Avi Nesher on Past Life

Avi Nesher discusses his latest film Past Life, mathematical versus poetic elements of structure, and the importance of a personal story to screenwriting success.

Avi Nesher discusses his latest film Past Life, mathematical versus poetic elements of structure, and the importance of a personal story to screenwriting success.

 Ramona Zacharias

Keep your stories true and interesting: Zander Lehmann on Casual

Keep your stories true and interesting: Zander Lehmann on Casual

Zander Lehmann discusses planning a season of Casual, the differences between writing for television and film, and a writer’s greatest asset.

Zander Lehmann discusses planning a season of Casual, the differences between writing for television and film, and a writer’s greatest asset.

 Ramona Zacharias

“Good Screenwriters are Good Filmmakers.” T.S. Nowlin on Phoenix Forgotten

“Good Screenwriters are Good Filmmakers.” T.S. Nowlin on Phoenix Forgotten

T.S. Nowlin discusses writing found-footage film Phoenix Forgotten, allowing space for improvisation, and the importance for writers of getting into production.

T.S. Nowlin discusses writing found-footage film Phoenix Forgotten, allowing space for improvisation, and the importance for writers of getting into production.

 Ramona Zacharias

Defying Genres: Nacho Vigalondo on Colossal

Defying Genres: Nacho Vigalondo on Colossal

Making a monster movie without a big budget, breaking screenwriting rules and tropes, and why a film should be a conversation with the audience.

Making a monster movie without a big budget, breaking screenwriting rules and tropes, and why a film should be a conversation with the audience.

 Ramona Zacharias

Five Origin Stories: John Gatins on Power Rangers

Five Origin Stories: John Gatins on Power Rangers

John Gatins discusses writing for teenage characters, the importance of keeping the audience personally invested, and seeking inspiration.

John Gatins discusses writing for teenage characters, the importance of keeping the audience personally invested, and seeking inspiration.

 Ramona Zacharias

Love the Process: Jeff Stockwell on The Ottoman Lieutenant

Love the Process: Jeff Stockwell on The Ottoman Lieutenant

Jeff Stockwell discusses using research to shape your project, not critiquing your first draft, avoiding the internet, and the importance of enjoying the process.

Jeff Stockwell on using research to shape your project, not critiquing your first draft, avoiding the internet, and the importance of enjoying the process.

 Ramona Zacharias

Fabrication: A Company for Writers

Fabrication: A Company for Writers

Alexandra Cunningham on protecting the writer’s vision, why television is the place to be, and saying thank you for notes.

Fabrication’s Alexandra Cunningham on protecting the writer’s vision, why television is the place to be for writers, and saying thank you for notes.

 Ramona Zacharias

Ramona Zacharias’s Year in Quotes

Ramona Zacharias’s Year in Quotes

Ramona looks back over her interviews from 2016, and shares some of her favorite quotes.

Ramona looks back over her interviews from 2016, and shares some of her favorite quotes.

 Ramona Zacharias

Damien Chazelle on La La Land

Damien Chazelle on La La Land

Damien Chazelle discusses writing two movies in one, the underlying sadness of musicals, and challenging yourself to make it personal.

Damien Chazelle on writing two movies in one, the underlying sadness of musicals, giving your script feeling, and challenging yourself to make it personal.

 Ramona Zacharias

Barry Jenkins on Moonlight

Barry Jenkins on Moonlight

Barry Jenkins discusses making the audience walk a mile in the character’s shoes, the use of waypoints in adaptations, and the importance of poor first drafts.

Barry Jenkins discusses making the audience walk a mile in the character’s shoes, the use of waypoints in adaptations, and the importance of poor first drafts.

 Ramona Zacharias

John McNamara & Sera Gamble: The Magicians

John McNamara & Sera Gamble: The Magicians

John McNamara & Sera Gamble discuss finding the best version of the moment, the importance of not knowing what happens next, and the value of treating everything as practice.

John McNamara & Sera Gamble discuss finding the best version of the moment, the importance of not knowing what happens next, and the value of treating everything as practice.

 Ramona Zacharias

Giving Up and Letting Go: Erin Cressida Wilson on Adapting The Girl on the Train

Giving Up and Letting Go: Erin Cressida Wilson on Adapting The Girl on the Train

Erin Cressida Wilson discusses her process of adaptation, embracing writer’s block, and the importance of embarrassing yourself when writing.

Erin Cressida Wilson discusses her process of adaptation, embracing writer’s block, and the importance of embarrassing yourself when writing.

 Ramona Zacharias

Communicating through Fiction: Tom Ford on Nocturnal Animals

Communicating through Fiction: Tom Ford on Nocturnal Animals

Tom Ford on why all his scenes have their own 3-act structure, writing as catharsis, the value of a strict schedule and the importance of photo research.

Tom Ford on why all his scenes have their own 3-act structure, writing as catharsis, the value of a strict schedule and the importance of photo research.

 Ramona Zacharias

Frank & Lola: A Long Labor of Love

Frank & Lola: A Long Labor of Love

Matthew Ross on writing a psychosexual noir love story, playing with audience expectations, and accommodating changes into your script.

Matthew Ross on writing a psychosexual noir love story, playing with audience expectations, and accommodating changes into your script.

 Ramona Zacharias

James L. Brooks and Kelly Fremon Craig on The Edge of Seventeen

James L. Brooks and Kelly Fremon Craig on The Edge of Seventeen

The importance of details, building audience trust with the narrator, and the writer’s edge.

The importance of details, building audience trust with the narrator, and the writer’s edge.

 Ramona Zacharias

“We didn’t want to put pencils inside any of them!” Aibel & Berger on Trolls

“We didn’t want to put pencils inside any of them!” Aibel & Berger on Trolls

Creating relatable characters, the secret to the success of a decades-long partnership, and great advice for aspiring writers.

Creating relatable characters, the secret to the success of a decades-long partnership, and great advice for aspiring writers.

 Ramona Zacharias

It’s all about the leaving out: American Pastoral

It’s all about the leaving out: American Pastoral

John Romano on the challenges of adapting Philip Roth, identifying the central through line of a story, and the importance of the spoken word.

John Romano on the challenges of adapting Philip Roth, identifying the central through line of a story, and the importance of the spoken word.

 Ramona Zacharias

A 2-Act Film: Paul Schrader on Dog Eat Dog

A 2-Act Film: Paul Schrader on Dog Eat Dog

Paul Schrader discusses his new film Dog Eat Dog, shooting on a budget, making a 2-act film, and the state of the film industry.

Paul Schrader discusses his new film Dog Eat Dog, shooting on a budget, making a 2-act film, and the state of the film industry.

 Ramona Zacharias

“There’s both light and dark…There’s a lot of dark!” Black Mirror

“There’s both light and dark…There’s a lot of dark!” Black Mirror

Charlie Brooker & Annabel Jones on screenwriting levers, satire, and why checking your phone is like smoking. Plus great practical advice for writers!

Charlie Brooker & Annabel Jones on screenwriting levers, satire, and why checking your phone is like smoking. Plus great practical advice for writers!

 Ramona Zacharias

The Blair Witch Is Back!

The Blair Witch Is Back!

Simon Barrett on working within an established canon, avant-garde choices within the horror genre and why he wrote a 130 page script for a 90 minute film.

Simon Barrett on working within an established canon, avant-garde choices within the horror genre and why he wrote a 130 page script for a 90 minute film.

 Ramona Zacharias

Feeling as Intensely as a Teenager: Nerve and the YA Market

Feeling as Intensely as a Teenager: Nerve and the YA Market

Jessica Sharzer on the screenplay for Nerve, opening up in the writers' room, and the Dirty Dancing remake.

Jessica Sharzer on the screenplay for Nerve, opening up in the writers’ room, and the Dirty Dancing remake.

 Ramona Zacharias

“No Stories Are Plot Driven!”

“No Stories Are Plot Driven!”

Lisa Cron on the dangers of pretty language, foolish outlines and why no stories are plot driven.

Lisa Cron on the dangers of pretty language, foolish outlines and why no stories are plot driven.

 Ramona Zacharias

The Neuroscience of Storytelling

The Neuroscience of Storytelling

Lisa Cron on the neuroscience of storytelling, Breaking Bad's brilliant finale, and why pantsing is idiotic.

Lisa Cron on the neuroscience of storytelling, Breaking Bad’s brilliant finale, and why pantsing is idiotic.

 Ramona Zacharias

Imperium: Turning Fact into Fiction

Imperium: Turning Fact into Fiction

Daniel Ragussis on how to research an extreme subject, parallels in history, and his three top tips for screenwriters.

Daniel Ragussis on how to research an extreme subject, parallels in history, and his three top tips for screenwriters.

 Ramona Zacharias

The hardest screenplay Tarantino has ever read! Swiss Army Man

The hardest screenplay Tarantino has ever read! Swiss Army Man

Dan Kwan & Daniel Scheinert discuss the concept behind Swiss Army Man, getting notes from Tarantino, and the move from 4-minute videos to a 90-minute film.

Meet Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. Collectively known as Daniels, they’re the writing/directing duo behind Swiss Army Man, probably one of the most creative films you’ll  ever see. Truly bizarre, but in the most hilarious way possible (and often tender, thanks in large part to a beautiful score by Atlanta’s Manchester Orchestra), Swiss Army Man tells the story […]

 Ramona Zacharias

Adapting Austen: Love & Friendship

Adapting Austen: Love & Friendship

Whit Stillman on matching Jane Austen’s writing style, adding new characters, and the nature of Austen’s comedy.

When Love & Friendship writer and director Whit Stillman began the task of adapting Jane Austen’s short epistolary novel Lady Susan for the screen, he knew it would be a long labor of love. But he was so captivated by the story (which was never published in the writer’s lifetime) and its sharp comedy that […]

 Ramona Zacharias

“Think like a magician.” Ed Solomon on Now You See Me 2

“Think like a magician.” Ed Solomon on Now You See Me 2

Ed Solomon discusses keeping it light, writing out a major character, and the social issues underlying the franchise.

Now You See Me 2 screenwriter Ed Solomon has penned some outrageous scripts, more than one of which has ended up launching a series or franchise. From Bill & Ted to Men in Black to Charlie’s Angels, his stories are created to be both funny and fantastical, and ultimately entertaining for the audience. His film […]

 Ramona Zacharias

“You don’t want a screenplay to be too complete.” Rebecca Miller on Maggie’s Plan

“You don’t want a screenplay to be too complete.” Rebecca Miller on Maggie’s Plan

Rebecca Miller discusses her latest film’s unconventional approach to comedy, adapting original material, and the differences between writing novels and screenplays.

The eponymous hero of Maggie’s Plan (Greta Gerwig, Mistress America) is a single girl living in New York City. And unlike similarly fictional counterparts such as Holly Golightly and Carrie Bradshaw, she’s not terribly concerned with finding Mr. Right. She’d much rather snag a donation from her awkward mathematics-obsessed friend and pickle entrepreneur Guy (Travis […]

 Ramona Zacharias

That Preston Sturges Vibe: Matthew Carnahan on House of Lies

That Preston Sturges Vibe: Matthew Carnahan on House of Lies

Matthew Carnahan discusses breaking the fourth wall, the importance of taking risks as a showrunner, and giving characters the voice you wish you had.

By Ramona Zacharias. In his hit television series House of Lies, Matthew Carnahan gets to inhabit the cutthroat world of management consulting, week in and week out. Based on real-life consultant Martin Kihn’s book House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Tell You the Time, the half-hour comedy from Showtime stars Don […]

 Ramona Zacharias

Vince Gilligan on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul

Vince Gilligan on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul

Showrunner Vince Gilligan discusses structuring an episode, pacing a season, character development, and Easter eggs for fans.

By Ramona Zacharias. It’s not every day one has their work referred to as quite possibly the greatest television series of all time. And creator Vince Gilligan may humbly compare the success of Breaking Bad to “lightning in a bottle”. But those who avidly tuned in to the show week after week (or later binge-watched […]

 Ramona Zacharias

Uncomfortable Truths: Straight Outta Compton

Uncomfortable Truths: Straight Outta Compton

Andrea Berloff and Jonathan Herman discuss commitment to research, refusal to shy away from difficult subject matter, and the importance of presenting the truth.

By Ramona Zacharias. It’s the mid-1980s in Compton, California. With all the social, political and economic odds associated with both their era and location stacked against them, friends and aspiring musicians Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, DJ Yella and MC Ren aren’t content to follow the path facing most of the youth in their neighborhood. […]

 Ramona Zacharias

Screenwriting in Brazil: Afonso Poyart on Two Rabbits and Solace

Screenwriting in Brazil: Afonso Poyart on Two Rabbits and Solace

Afonso Poyart discusses his two latest films, moving from commercials to filmmaking, and his unusual approach to storytelling.

By Ramona Zacharias. Brazilian filmmaker Afonso Poyart’s debut feature is literally a picture of creativity. A fast-paced, high-octane action flick that excited an audience unused to seeing such special effects at the cinema, the English-subtitled 2 Coelhos was first released in Brazil in 2012, has since made appearances at various film festivals, and is now […]

 Ramona Zacharias

Final Draft’s 25th Anniversary

Final Draft’s 25th Anniversary

Co-creator Marc Madnick on leading the industry, the Final Draft awards and adapting to the needs of the modern customer.

by Ramona Zacharias. “Write the screenplay of your dreams”. For 25 years, Marc Madnick and his company Final Draft have been helping writers to achieve that goal. Co-founded in 1991 by Madnick and Ben Cahan, the latter’s technical savvy combined with the former’s marketing genius, and together they created a stellar product. With all three […]

 Ramona Zacharias

From 12 Pages to 45 Years

From 12 Pages to 45 Years

Andrew Haigh discusses his fascination with human relationships, his approach to writing a back story, and the importance of a name.

By Ramona Zacharias. The story behind the critically acclaimed 45 Years is a simple one – Geoff and Kate Mercer (played exceptionally by Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling) are just about to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary when Geoff receives a letter that throws them both into emotional turmoil. After five decades, the body of […]

 Ramona Zacharias

Delivering the Beats: Bone Tomahawk

Delivering the Beats: Bone Tomahawk

S. Craig Zahler discusses the western and horror genres, offers advice for aspiring writers, and explores the similarities between writing and drumming.

By Ramona Zacharias. Craig Zahler is a man of many talents. Besides being an accomplished novelist, screenwriter, director and cinematographer, he’s also a self-professed metalhead as the drummer, lyricist and singer for the band Realmbuilder. Not surprisingly, Zahler’s many passions have combined to make him an extremely interesting storyteller. He’s taught himself how to put […]

 Ramona Zacharias

Trumbo: Breaking the Hollywood Blacklist

Trumbo: Breaking the Hollywood Blacklist

John McNamara discusses his first feature film, the inspiration of the man who broke the Hollywood Blacklist, and writing a scene for John Wayne.

By Ramona Zacharias. It’s hard to believe that in 1950s, post-World War II America, one could be imprisoned for thought crimes. But that was exactly the society inhabited by screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. The man behind such films as Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo and The Brave One was one of the infamous Hollywood Ten, a group […]

 Ramona Zacharias

Zipper: Writing About Adultery

Zipper: Writing About Adultery

Mora Stephens and Joel Viertel discuss writing about adultery as a married couple, the challenges of bringing Zipper to the screen, and the need for a sixth sense in screenwriting.

By Ramona Zacharias. Mora Stephens and her husband Joel Viertel have worn many hats in the entertainment industry. Both have multiple writing, directing and producing credits to their names and are seasoned in different aspects of film and television production. And they love to write together. Their latest film, Zipper, was an official selection of […]

 Ramona Zacharias

“I’m not a big lover of fantasy, generally.” Peter Harness on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

“I’m not a big lover of fantasy, generally.” Peter Harness on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Peter Harness discusses his television adaptation of the much-loved "unfilmable" book.

By Ramona Zacharias. It’s not often you hear a body of work referred to as “unfilmable” these days. But that was precisely the reputation attached to Susanna Clarke’s epic novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. A ten-year effort for the author herself, this 1000-page story of two magicians in Napoleonic England is renowned for its […]

 Ramona Zacharias

“The last thing I wanted to do was another one!” George Miller on Mad Max: Fury Road.

“The last thing I wanted to do was another one!” George Miller on Mad Max: Fury Road.

George Miller discusses his intensely visual movie, and the unusual approach to screenwriting that it required.

By Ramona Zacharias. It’s been 36 years since writer, director and producer George Miller first introduced us to Max Rockatansky, the Road Warrior who became a cultural icon. Having graduated medical school in the late 1970s, the young Dr. Miller decided to explore a new career by combining his experience in the emergency room treating […]

 Ramona Zacharias

Ripper Street: “Not Hidebound by History”

Ripper Street: “Not Hidebound by History”

Richard Warlow discusses the development of the series, what he wanted it to become, and the gift of second chances.

By Ramona Zacharias. British writer Richard Warlow knows that the “Jack the Ripper period drama” has been done before. Which is why his critically acclaimed television series Ripper Street is not so much about the “Ripper” as it is about the “Street”. Leman, to be precise, and the men who policed it and the surrounding […]

 Ramona Zacharias

A Story That Had to be Told: The Imitation Game

A Story That Had to be Told: The Imitation Game

Screenwriter Graham Moore on bringing to the big screen a story that has been on his mind since he was a teenager.

By Ramona Zacharias. Barely on the cusp of his mid-30s, screenwriter Graham Moore has achieved phenomenal heights with his first screenplay, The Imitation Game. In an early emergence, it topped 2011’s Black List for the best unproduced Hollywood script. The end product was 2014’s beautifully moving film directed by Morten Tyldum (Headhunters) and starring an […]

 Ramona Zacharias

Into the Woods: Writing Without Limitations

Into the Woods: Writing Without Limitations

James Lapine brings his Broadway musical to Hollywood.

By Ramona Zacharias. Some 30 years ago, writer James Lapine and composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim created a musical that has charmed audiences across the world for decades. Weaving classic fairy tales with more contemporary fiction, Into the Woods tells the story of a baker and his wife who are unable to have children. Discovering their barren […]

 Ramona Zacharias

Pretty Little Liars: Adapting Hit Novels into a Hit Show

Pretty Little Liars: Adapting Hit Novels into a Hit Show

"I knew that we needed to continue to shock and surprise fans." I. Marlene King discusses her show, Pretty Little Liars.

By Ramona Zacharias. High school is hard enough for a teenage girl, what with all that social awkwardness and pre-adulthood business, not to mention parents, teachers, homework and homecoming. Throw in murder, stalking and psychological torture that is seemingly from beyond the grave, and you have the deliciously dark and irresistible world of Hanna Marin, […]

 Ramona Zacharias

A Walk in the (Brickleberry) Park

A Walk in the (Brickleberry) Park

The creators of Brickleberry talk candidly about their hit show.

By Ramona Zacharias. Brickleberry showrunners Waco O’Guin and Roger Black know what it’s like to write outside their comfort zone. Having met in their University of Georgia days and worked together for years (on The DAMN! Show and MTV2’s Stankervision), they’ve found success more recently as creators and writers of Comedy Central’s hit animated series about […]

 Ramona Zacharias

From Star Trek to Sleepy Hollow

From Star Trek to Sleepy Hollow

Alex Kurtzman looks for the Lego click.

by Ramona Zacharias. At a mere 40 years of age, Alex Kurtzman is a powerful creative force in Hollywood. In the last seven years alone, he and longtime writing/producing partner Roberto Orci have brought us the Transformers and Star Trek films, not to mention small-screen successes such as Fringe and Hawaii Five-O. In 2011, Forbes […]

 Ramona Zacharias

NBCUniversal: State of the Network

NBCUniversal: State of the Network

Ready to dominate 2013 prime time

by Ramona Zacharias “We are in business to create and deliver content so compelling it entertains, informs and shapes our world… As we grow our businesses together, we will not just anticipate the future, but rather create, invent and deliver it.”—NBC   So read the first and final lines of NBCUniversal’s credo. And if the […]


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Joss Whedon on Screenwriting

MFA in Screenwriting