Films

screenwriting for cinema

 Donna Marie Miller

“Polarizing, inspiring, strong and difficult.” The Most Hated Woman in America

“Polarizing, inspiring, strong and difficult.” The Most Hated Woman in America

Tommy O’Haver and Irene Turner on portraying the essence of the truth, flashbacks, and getting the death right.

Tommy O’Haver and Irene Turner on portraying the essence of the truth, flashbacks, and getting the death right.

 Christopher McKittrick

Wilson: A Walking Id

Wilson: A Walking Id

Daniel Clowes on writing a gag in five minutes, adapting comics into screenplays, and catching Scarlett Johansson in a bad mood.

Daniel Clowes on writing a gag in five minutes, adapting comics into screenplays, and catching Scarlett Johansson in a bad mood.

 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.

 Christopher McKittrick

Seven Decades of Cinematic Storytelling: Roger Corman on Screenwriting

Seven Decades of Cinematic Storytelling: Roger Corman on Screenwriting

Roger Corman on what he looks for in a script, telling stories for teenagers, and how to plan a low budget shoot.

In the early 1950s, Roger Corman began his creative career in the film industry as a story reader for 20th Century Fox, but left in order to create his own independent studio with its own distribution. Within only a few years he became the undisputed king of the low-budget movie. In his seven-decade career he […]

 Matt Mulcahey

“When I write by myself there are no rules.” Martin Koolhoven on Brimstone

“When I write by myself there are no rules.” Martin Koolhoven on Brimstone

Martin Koolhoven discusses writing a Western from the female perspective, the evolution of Brimstone’s non-linear structure, and how his film is spiritually connected to Tarantino’s Django Unchained.

Martin Koolhoven discusses writing a Western from the female perspective, the evolution of Brimstone’s non-linear structure, and how his film is spiritually connected to Tarantino’s Django Unchained.

 Christopher McKittrick

“Every movie is its own beast.” Max Borenstein on Kong: Skull Island

“Every movie is its own beast.” Max Borenstein on Kong: Skull Island

Max Borenstein on bringing giant-scale movies down to earth, how great actors elevate a screenplay, and making the audience care about your monsters.

Max Borenstein on bringing giant-scale movies down to earth, how great actors elevate a screenplay, and making the audience care about your monsters.

 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.

 Christopher McKittrick

Myth vs. Man: James Mangold and Scott Frank on Logan

Myth vs. Man: James Mangold and Scott Frank on Logan

Writing an intimate superhero film, the summer blockbuster arms race, writing for children, and dialogue as a delivery system of lies.

Writing an intimate superhero film, the summer blockbuster arms race, writing for children, and dialogue as a delivery system of lies.

 Tom Stempel

Understanding Screenwriting #155

Understanding Screenwriting #155

Tom Stempel on Manchester by the Sea, Things to Come, 20th Century Women, La La Land, Sophie and the Rising Sun, Julieta, and Railroad Tigers.

Tom Stempel on Manchester by the Sea, Things to Come, 20th Century Women, La La Land, Sophie and the Rising Sun, Julieta, and Railroad Tigers.

 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.

 Christopher McKittrick

“The star of the movie is the screenplay.” August Wilson’s Fences

“The star of the movie is the screenplay.” August Wilson’s Fences

Producer Todd Black discusses bringing Wilson’s adaptation to the big screen, letting the screenplay inform every decision, and working with platinum.

Producer Todd Black discusses bringing Wilson’s adaptation to the big screen, letting the screenplay inform every decision, and working with platinum.

 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.

 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.

 Tom Stempel

Understanding Screenwriting #154

Understanding Screenwriting #154

Tom Stempel on The Edge of Seventeen, Moonlight, Elle, Loving, Allied, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Tom Stempel on The Edge of Seventeen, Moonlight, Elle, Loving, Allied, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

 Brianne Hogan

Building a tapestry: Kenneth Lonergan on Manchester by the Sea

Building a tapestry: Kenneth Lonergan on Manchester by the Sea

Kenneth Lonergan discusses making the story your own, the use of flashbacks, and rooting your script in realism.

Kenneth Lonergan discusses making the story your own, the use of flashbacks, and rooting your script in realism.

 Christopher McKittrick

Hidden Figures: “A Mathematical Juggling Act”

Hidden Figures: “A Mathematical Juggling Act”

Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi on the importance of repetition, ensuring balance in an ensemble piece, and not getting attached to your first draft.

Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi on the importance of repetition, ensuring balance in an ensemble piece, and not getting attached to your first draft.

 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.

 Christopher McKittrick

“Power comes from writing.” M. Night Shyamalan on Split

“Power comes from writing.” M. Night Shyamalan on Split

M. Night Shyamalan on the importance of outlining, using dark humor, the four genres of Split, and writing for different budgets.

M. Night Shyamalan on the importance of outlining, using dark humor, the four genres of Split, and writing for different budgets.

 Christopher McKittrick

“What guides me is the real person.” Mike Mills on 20th Century Women

“What guides me is the real person.” Mike Mills on 20th Century Women

Mike Mills discusses writing from personal experience, why plot is not that important to him, and how to know when a script is ready.

Mike Mills discusses writing from personal experience, why plot is not that important to him, and how to know when a script is ready.

 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.

 Christopher McKittrick

Roger Corman on Death Race 2050

Roger Corman on Death Race 2050

Roger Corman discusses what makes a good screenplay, how Death Race 2000 influenced Mad Max and The Hunger Games, and why killing pedestrians was important.

Roger Corman discusses what makes a good screenplay, how Death Race 2000 influenced Mad Max and The Hunger Games, and why killing pedestrians was important.

 Brianne Hogan

Shared Inspiration: Claire in Motion

Shared Inspiration: Claire in Motion

Lisa Robinson and Annie J. Howell on learning from your actors, a unique way of writing as a duo, and what makes a partnership work.

Lisa Robinson and Annie J. Howell on learning from your actors, a unique way of writing as a duo, and what makes a partnership work.

 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.

 Brianne Hogan

“Don’t draw the line at good enough.” Diane Drake on Screenwriting

“Don’t draw the line at good enough.” Diane Drake on Screenwriting

Diane Drake on giving yourself permission to be bad, the essentials of a first act, and what to do with your script when it is written.

Diane Drake on giving yourself permission to be bad, the essentials of a first act, and what to do with your script when it is written.

 Tom Stempel

Understanding Screenwriting #153

Understanding Screenwriting #153

Tom Stempel on The Birth of a Nation, The Accountant, Inferno, Denial, Arrival, Beauty Shop, and All the President’s Men.

Tom Stempel on The Birth of a Nation, The Accountant, Inferno, Denial, Arrival, Beauty Shop, and All the President’s Men.

 Michael Welles Schock

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: A Cinematic Prototype

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: A Cinematic Prototype

Michael Welles Schock reveals what A Christmas Carol can teach us about plot structure, and how it illustrates the relationship between narrative conflict and the character arc.

Michael Welles Schock reveals what A Christmas Carol can teach us about plot structure, and how it illustrates the relationship between narrative conflict and the character arc.

 Andrew Bloomenthal

Walking a Tightrope: John Hamburg on Why Him?

Walking a Tightrope: John Hamburg on Why Him?

John Hamburg discusses character motivation and infusing back story into the comedy, and reveals a serendipitous behind-the-scenes anecdote.

John Hamburg discusses character motivation and infusing back story into the comedy, and reveals a serendipitous behind-the-scenes anecdote.

 Brianne Hogan

Collateral Beauty: A Holiday Fable

Collateral Beauty: A Holiday Fable

Allan Loeb on the secret to writing a good twist, walking while you write, and the biggest lesson he’s learned from being a writer in Hollywood.

Allan Loeb on the secret to writing a good twist, walking while you write, and the biggest lesson he’s learned from being a writer in Hollywood.

 Christopher McKittrick

From All We Had to X-Men: Josh Boone, a Busy Man

From All We Had to X-Men: Josh Boone, a Busy Man

Josh Boone on his many projects, writing in a bubble, and building your career around books you love.

Josh Boone on his many projects, writing in a bubble, and building your career around books you love.

 Matt Mulcahey

Shepherding Arrival to the Screen

Shepherding Arrival to the Screen

Eric Heisserer on wooing your director, working with your source material, and how a screenwriter is like Charlie Brown.

Eric Heisserer on wooing your director, working with your source material, and how a screenwriter is like Charlie Brown.

 Brianne Hogan

“An Authentic and Vibrant Love.” Southside with You

“An Authentic and Vibrant Love.” Southside with You

Richard Tanne on connecting to your characters and story, making use of your research, and being inspired by love.

Richard Tanne on connecting to your characters and story, making use of your research, and being inspired by love.

 Christopher McKittrick

Lion: A Powerful, Primal Childhood Fable

Lion: A Powerful, Primal Childhood Fable

Luke Davies on bringing scenes to life, symmetry and turning points, and why a script has to be both a technical document and also a work of art.

Luke Davies on bringing scenes to life, symmetry and turning points, and why a script has to be both a technical document and also a work of art.

 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.

 Christopher McKittrick

The Different Faces of Jackie

The Different Faces of Jackie

Noah Oppenheim on writing a multilayered protagonist, the political mythmaking of the Kennedys, and the importance of narrowing the aperture.

Noah Oppenheim on writing a multilayered protagonist, the political mythmaking of the Kennedys, and the importance of narrowing the aperture.

 Tom Stempel

Understanding Screenwriting #152

Understanding Screenwriting #152

Tom Stempel on Hell or High Water, Sully, Bridget Jones’ Baby, The Magnificent Seven, The Dressmaker, and Shadow of a Doubt.

Tom Stempel on Hell or High Water, Sully, Bridget Jones’ Baby, The Magnificent Seven, The Dressmaker, and Shadow of a Doubt.

 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.

 Christopher McKittrick

Walking the line between filthy and having heart: Bad Santa 2

Walking the line between filthy and having heart: Bad Santa 2

Johnny Rosenthal and Shauna Cross on writing a sequel to a modern classic Christmas comedy, knowing when a character shouldn’t develop, and writing without a filter.

Johnny Rosenthal and Shauna Cross on writing a sequel to a modern classic Christmas comedy, knowing when a character shouldn’t develop, and writing without a filter.

 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.

 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.

 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.

 Christopher McKittrick

Emotional Trajectories: Jeff Nichols on Loving

Emotional Trajectories: Jeff Nichols on Loving

Jeff Nichols discusses gestational thinking, emotional trajectory in films, writing from a female perspective, and the universality of specificity.

Jeff Nichols discusses gestational thinking, emotional trajectory in films, writing from a female perspective, and the universality of specificity.

 Brianne Hogan

Indignation: Breaking the Philip Roth Curse

Indignation: Breaking the Philip Roth Curse

James Schamus on adapting Philip Roth, hinging a movie around an 18 minute conversation, and going against the grain of the dialogue.

James Schamus on adapting Philip Roth, hinging a movie around an 18 minute conversation, and going against the grain of the dialogue.

 Michael Hauge

12 Powerful Principles of Story Structure

12 Powerful Principles of Story Structure

Michael Hauge discusses superior position, foreshadowing, ticking clocks and other screenwriting techniques, as revealed in James Cameron’s Avatar.

Michael Hauge discusses superior position, foreshadowing, ticking clocks and other screenwriting techniques, as revealed in James Cameron’s Avatar.

 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.

 Matthew Wade Reynolds

When Allegory Becomes Real: Desierto

When Allegory Becomes Real: Desierto

Jonas Cuarón on the influence of Spielberg, the connection between Desierto and his space epic Gravity, and being careful with the space between characters.

Jonas Cuarón on the influence of Spielberg, the connection between Desierto and his space epic Gravity, and being careful with the space between characters.

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Joss Whedon on Screenwriting

MFA in Screenwriting